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Let Me Count the Ways

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“What you need, boo,” Mercedes said when Kurt put his Mai Tai down, “is to get laid.”

Kurt raised an eyebrow and opened his mouth to give her a piece of his mind, when Rachel piped up, “She’s right, Kurt. You’ve been so tense and short tempered lately. I’ve found that having regular sexual relations not only improves my mood but also my productivity. I do, of course, realize that not everyone can be on par with me, but I have not yet met anyone whose mood wasn’t improved considerably after an orgasm or two. You really have to work on that, Kurt. Your short temper just is not amusing anymore.”

Kurt glared at her, then at the other three girls sitting around the table of the little cocktail bar. It was a typical Friday night in New York and therefore packed to the brim with people in their early twenties - like them - trying to get sloshed or getting properly lubed with alcohol before hitting the city’s club scene. Kurt and the girls had no such ambitions. They were perfectly content to sit around, bitch about their jobs and lives and, in Santana’s case, grope her girlfriend.

“Sugar, it never was amusing to begin with,” Santana scoffed at that moment, flipping her ponytail over her shoulder before nosing along her girlfriend’s neck, whispering something into her ear that made Amanda smile. Kurt sighed and picked up his glass again before sniffing disdainfully.

“As fun as this intervention from you guys has been,” he interjected, “but I’m perfectly fine!” He received glances ranging from incredulous to pitying, but if there was one thing he didn’t need, it was pity.

Santana, being her usual charming self, called him out on it. She slid down the bench they were sitting on, slung an arm around his shoulder, pulled him against her and told him seriously, “You haven’t been fine since that asshole broke your heart.”

Kurt tried to evade her gaze but she was nothing if not stubborn. Catching his chin in a firm grip she forced him to look into her eyes. “I’m serious, Kurt. You need to get back out there and forget him, find someone better and brighter and hotter than him.”

“That shouldn’t be a problem,” Rachel chimed in, oblivious to Kurt’s glare, “he was never in Kurt’s league to begin with.”

“Oh thank you, Rachel, that makes me feel so much better,” Kurt said sourly, then sighed when he caught Mercedes’ sad smile.

“She has a point, boo. I always had the feeling that you were just... settling for him,” Mercedes added. Kurt froze.

To be honest, he had been settling for Jamie. He was just... he was the first guy who ever showed an interest in him after his move from Lima to New York, and aside from that asshole Karofsky, nobody in Ohio had ever really seen Kurt as a sexual being. While it would’ve been normal for any healthy eighteen year old gay teen to take the first chance they got to get laid, Kurt had never really been normal in that regard. Still, after years of not having the chance to even kiss another boy properly, his earlier ideas of romance and what love should be like had soon been overshadowed by his own libido. Having the attentions of a good looking guy on him for the first time in his life had been both a novelty and a balm for his soul.

And it hadn’t been so bad, really. Jamie had been a nice guy; taller than Kurt and a little on the slim side with shaggy blond hair and blue eyes. Kurt had fallen for him eventually, had even started to pick out china patterns for their future home in his head. Then, of course, Jamie had to go and cheat on him and tell Kurt that they had never been exclusive in the first place. What did Kurt think this was, a marriage?

It had burned him pretty badly. Now three years later at 22, Kurt was certainly wiser but not necessarily happier. Oh, he had a newly acquired degree in fashion design in his pocket as well as an internship with Vincenco da Silva, an up and coming designer who’d been rather taken by Kurt’s designs, who’d even told Kurt that his chances of sticking around after the internship had ended weren’t so bad either.

As for his private life, Kurt had the occasional one night stand under his belt and a few dates here and there that never really went anywhere.

Kurt’s life was at a point right now where he was content. Okay, so the dating had tapered off soon after he’d started his job, and if he was honest with himself he’d stopped it quite readily and faster than he might have done if he hadn’t been burned by Jamie’s betrayal. Realizing now that his ex had been a rather large reason for him not even trying to find someone new was a harsh thing to come to terms with. Back when he’d been burned by Jamie’s betrayal, he’d sworn to himself that he’d be damned if Jamie’s shadow would ruin things for him.

But apparently he had without Kurt even noticing, if even his friends could tell. Friends who he’d known for a long time now, but who he didn’t really see all that often due to conflicting schedules. If they were lucky, they met every eight weeks or so.

Kurt sighed again and suppressed the urge to rub a hand over his face - it wasn’t good for his complexion, after all. “You’re right, you’re right,” he finally admitted and saw Santana pause, her drink halfway to her mouth. He smirked at her. “Didn’t think I’d admit it, did you?”

Santana flipped him the bird, then patted his leg and slid back down the booth to Amanda’s side. Kurt let her and addressed the other three girls, “The problem is that I’m tired of casual dating or casual sex. I was tired of it two years ago, to be honest.”

“You’ve never been the casual type, Kurt,” Rachel said, giving him a knowing look. They’ve always been too alike for her to not know what was going on inside his head. “And honestly, I knew you weren’t happy with the guys you dated when you didn’t even want to introduce us to any of them.”

Kurt evaded her gaze. As much as he didn’t want to admit it, she was right. He didn’t want any of the guys he’d dated briefly to meet his girls, because he didn’t think any of them were worthy of being introduced to them. It was a sad truth, but even sadder was that he’d been transparent enough that Rachel had caught on so quickly. He shot her a doleful smile before lowering his head again to stare at his drink.

“Well, there’s only one thing to do then, isn’t there?” Santana’s girlfriend Amanda piped up. She reminded Kurt a lot of Brittany in her appearance, but she was three years older than them, studying law and had never been in a cheerleader squad in her life, much less thought of herself as a unicorn. Kurt liked her. She was good for Santana.

“What do you mean, babe?” Santana asked, running a hand over her arm. Amanda smiled at both of them.

“Blind dates, of course.”

Everyone stared at her before Kurt put his hands flat on the table top. “Oh hell no!”

“Oh hell yes,” Santana countered, with Rachel and Mercedes nodding enthusiastically. “You need to get laid, Hummel, but you won’t do the casual thing, and how the hell are you supposed to meet guys who want to date you if you don’t get out there and meet them?”

Before Kurt could voice his protest again and more pointedly, Rachel said, “In fact, I’ve got just the guy in mind. I could give you his number. He’s really sweet and he just loves-”

“What about ‘hell no’ gave you the impression that I want to go on a blind date?” Kurt interrupted her.

Santana’s hand landed on the table with a loud bang and cut Kurt off. She glared at him and he glared right back, each of them trying to will the other one to back down. In the end Kurt was too tired to argue with her - and had a few too many Mai Tais in him - and gave in with a weary sigh.

To his surprise it was Mercedes who started talking. “Look, Kurt,” she began, her concern obvious in her voice. “We’re your friends. We want to help. And what’s the harm in meeting a few guys on some dates?”

“Nobody says you have to go and marry them,” Santana threw in, earning herself a glare from Kurt and an exasperated eye roll from Mercedes. Santana just shrugged her shoulders saying, “What? It’s true!”

Mercedes shook her head, leaned over the table to grab Kurt’s hand and said, “Just... let us do this for you.”

Kurt bit his lip in thought. They did have a point. Dating might get him out of the funk Jamie’s betrayal had thrown him into. It was high time to leave it behind, and what better way to do so than meet a few guys? Vetted by his friends, no less. While that might not be the wisest decision, even someone picked by Rachel who sometimes didn’t make the best choices in men - as her dating history had shown - was better than some guy he would get off of some craigslist ad.


The girls gaped at him for a second, then they all began talking at once. Kurt raised a hand to quiet them down. “I’m pretty sure this is a stupid thing to agree to and I’ll probably regret it tomorrow when I’m sober.”

Santana snorted but Rachel actually bounced in her seat. “No you won’t. We’ll choose wisely for you, you just wait.”

“Can I get that in writing?” Kurt said, an eyebrow raised sceptically. Amanda looked like she wanted to agree but Santana’s hand on her thigh stopped her.

“Okay, clearly we have to come up with a plan here so that there’s no way Hummel can back out of it,” she said, and the other girls nodded.

“Each of us should pick a guy,” Mercedes suggested. “That way he’ll have some variety.”

Rachel nodded. “That’s an excellent suggestion. But I suggest we give him even more of a choice by choosing more than one guy. How about three from each of us?”

“Could work,” Santana said. Amanda grabbed a napkin and procured a pen from somewhere, starting to write down bullet points. Kurt blinked to make sure he was seeing that right, but when the image didn’t change he said, “Guys, do you really think this is neces-”

“Hush, you,” Mercedes cut him off and waved a hand in his direction, not even looking at him. “We’re trying to get your love life going again.”

“Oh!” Rachel said suddenly, clapping her hands. “This is actually perfect! It’ll be like ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’. He can have a date a week or something, and maybe have a boyfriend just in time for Christmas!”

Santana stared at her as if she’d lost her mind, but Amanda seemed to agree because she jotted the idea down.

“I vote for Fridays,” Mercedes said. “That way he can either recuperate during the weekend or go on a second date right away if he hits it off with the guy.”

Amanda wrote furiously and smiled. Santana didn’t say much of anything but she did look pensive. Then she cut in with, “Let’s rotate each week. Like, it’s Mercedes’ turn and then it’s Manda’s and then mine and so on. If we’re going to give him variety he should profit from it.”

“You mean like, one week he’ll get a cultural guy, and the next he’ll get acquainted with law enforcement?” Rachel said, then nodded before getting an answer. “I like it.”

“Me too,” Mercedes said.

“Uhm, guys?” Kurt finally piped up, having enough. “I’m actually still here.”

Santana gave him an unimpressed stare. “Hummel, you haven’t done anything for your love life in ages. You lost your right to contribute to this conversation.”

Kurt glared at her but she just crossed her arms over her chest, smirking at him. After a moment he heaved a sigh and slumped back in his seat. “Fine. Fine! Do whatever you want, at this point I’m too drunk to actually stop you guys. But do me a favor and make sure you’re not letting me date any psychopaths, okay?”

“I am hurt that you’d think so low of us,” Rachel pointed out but she was grinning. “Of course they’ll be a paragon of virtue.”

“Well, something like that,” Mercedes added. Amanda had stopped scribbling on the napkin and looked at Santana. They seemed to hold an entire conversation with one glance before they both looked at Kurt and grinned at him. “You’ve got yourself a deal, Mr. Hummel,” Amanda said, raising her glass in a toast. “And to make sure you won’t back out on this tomorrow, I’ll set up a few documents with all the details to make sure you’ll go through with this.”

Kurt groaned. “Is that really necessary?”

The resounding chorus of “Yes!” from all four girls made him recoil a bit, then close his eyes and shake his head in defeat. “You’re all insane.”

Amanda smiled at him. “It’s for your own good, Kurt. Prepare to get wow-ed.”

“Prepare to get laid,” Santana corrected, leering at Kurt. He rolled his eyes, but still had to smile a bit. Maybe this blind date business wouldn’t be quite as horrible as he thought it would be. Out of all the people he knew, apart from his dad, he trusted these girls the most. Mercedes had helped him through tough times, and while Rachel could be an unbearable know-it-all at times, he knew that she was actually a caring woman who had trouble expressing that in a moderate fashion. And hell, if it weren’t for Santana and her tough love he might’ve never been able to survive in the fashion industry. Most of the insults that were flung at him on a daily basis were child’s play in comparison to what Santana had said to him during most of his high school years.

And who knew? Maybe Mr. Right really was out there, within his reach.

It took the girls a week or so to hammer out the details. Rachel apparently won the proverbial coin toss of who would go first and gave him the phone number of one of her theater buddies.

His name was Paul and he was 26. He was a costume designer and had recently taken up with a new production company off Broadway. When Kurt talked to him on the phone he had a lovely voice and was very polite. He even suggested a bar in Brooklyn that was frequented by theater buffs and he promised they wouldn’t attract any stares for being a same sex couple on a date. Kurt readily agreed, as he was only familiar with pick up joints - he’d never bothered to find the tamer side of gay New York. Plus, he lived only four blocks away from the bar.

When he came face to face with Paul, Kurt was pleasantly surprised. He was well dressed - as a costume designer, Kurt didn’t really expect anything less - his hair was impeccable and his grip was firm when they shook hands. He even got so far as to pull out Kurt’s chair for him, which was a bit much for a bar but Kurt didn’t mind so much. He’d never had anyone be this polite to him.

When the waitress came around, Paul ordered a martini and Kurt a Virgin Strawberry Daiquiri. After his embarrassing episode with Ms. Pillsbury in his sophomore year of high school, he’d grown reluctant in ingesting alcohol and only ever did it these days when he was in the company of people he trusted, which pretty much excluded any strangers he’d just met. Then they started a conversation about Paul’s work and his inspirations.

At first it had been interesting to listen to Paul’s experiences with fitting 30+ actresses who just didn’t cope with the fact that yes, their baby had left a few extra pounds on their hips. No, it would not help to let out the seam on the old dresses. And by the way, haven’t you heard that we’re no longer doing Hamlet and your dress for Ophelia was no longer on the table anyway?

That was the first time Kurt failed to get a word in edgewise. He tried to talk about his internship and this one fellow intern whose biggest accomplishment to date had been being a candidate on Project Runway but whose ego would’ve suggested that he’d run in Milan and New York. He’d barely been able to say that much before Paul interrupted him and continued to bitch about the fabric choices his budget department made for him.

Kurt was the first to admit that he could be a little self involved. Any good designer told you that it went with the job description. Paul, however, was in a league of his own. He’d been talking for almost thirty minutes without a break, Kurt unable to contribute anything to the conversation.

Kurt ordered a second Daiquiri 15 minutes into Paul’s rant about idiotic accountants who didn’t get that you couldn’t put a price on creativity and tried to look attentive. For the first time in a long while he wished desperately that the drink had actual alcohol in it so this would be less painful. Really, he loved to talk fast and plentiful as well but usually he gave his companions the chance to actually say something in return. After he’d tried several times, Paul totally ignoring his attempts to get a dialogue going, Kurt resigned himself to just listening. Though the stubborn part of him crossed its proverbial arms over its chest. If Paul was so much in love with his own voice, fine. Let him talk. But he shouldn’t expect Kurt’s attention if he didn’t seem to care about his opinions anyway.

His gaze started to roam around the bar after he came to that conclusion, taking in groups of people and couples who had way more fun than Kurt if their laughter was any indication. He saw the two bartenders go about their work, one polishing glasses while the other joked with two customers. Even they looked like they were having a better time than Kurt. Which was actually kind of depressing.

If Kurt hadn’t promised his girls that he would try to get to know the guys they set him up with, he would’ve left as soon as it became clear that Paul liked to hear himself talk more than he wanted to get to know Kurt. As it was, Kurt was nursing his third drink and looked at the clock above the bar as inconspicuously as he could, then tried to suppress a wince. He’d been here less than an hour and he already felt like it was a year of enduring Paul and his bitching.

When Paul started up on a new topic, Kurt suppressed an annoyed groan and was this close to just throwing in the towel and giving Paul a piece of his mind before leaving. Damn Rachel and that she had to work with him in the future. What had she been thinking, setting them up in the first place anyway? Thankfully he was saved from Rachel’s future wrath for alienating her work acquaintance when someone stopped at their table and said quietly, “Excuse me?”

Kurt startled and looked up at the guy. The first thing he noticed were the hazel eyes. He blinked before the rest of the man came into focus. And boy, what a man he was indeed. A bit on the short side maybe, but that didn’t really matter because he was very pretty and kind of hot, in an understated way. Dark, unruly hair crowned his head, framing a pleasant, handsome face. Strong shoulders and slim hips gave him an athletic figure. That’s when Kurt noticed the uniform.

Oh. He was one of the bartenders.

“Sorry to interrupt but there’s a phone call for you,” the guy said, waving vaguely in the direction of the bar while looking pointedly at Kurt.

Kurt was puzzled. Who in hell had the phone number of this place so they could ring him up? And why wouldn’t they try to ring him on his cell phone if it was apparently important enough to call in the middle of his date? On the other hand, at this point he would take any excuse to get out of Paul’s clutches, so he smiled tightly at his companion and followed the bartender.

They entered a hallway, probably leading to a set of offices, when the bartender stopped, turned around to Kurt and gave him an apologetic smile. Kurt’s heart skipped a beat, then a swarm of butterflies started a riot in his belly. Fuck, the smile made him even more beautiful, and Kurt wouldn’t have thought that was even possible.

“There isn’t, actually,” the bartender said, pulling Kurt out of his musings. At his confused stare, he elaborated, “A phone call, I mean. You just looked like you needed an escape route.”

Kurt continued to stare at him silently, but now more perplexed than confused. When the man started to shuffle his feet, clearly uncomfortable with the ongoing silence, Kurt tried to suppress a smile but his lips still twitched slightly. That didn’t seem to help the bartender any who had clearly noticed Kurt’s amusement.

“You can hang around back here for a minute or two and then make your excuses, if you want,” he offered Kurt, who just nodded, trying to look earnest but not quite sure if he succeeded.

The bartender nodded too, then turned to go back out to the bar. A sudden impulse made Kurt raise his hand and shout, “Wait!” The man had turned around, gaze questioning. Kurt wasn’t sure why he’d stopped him. He just knew that he was very grateful this stranger had noticed his plight and decided to do something about it. “Thank you,” he said quietly, deciding that it couldn’t hurt to express his gratitude with words.

The bartender smiled again and shook his head. “No problem.” Then he exited the hallway to get back to work.

Kurt let out a slow, steadying breath when he was alone again, closing his eyes for a moment to get his bearings back. Holy shit, he never would’ve thought that a smile could unravel him like that. When he was sure he could form coherent sentences again, he counted to sixty before he went back out to the table where Paul was still waiting for him.

“I am so sorry, but I have to bail on you,” Kurt said as soon as he was within hearing distance. Grabbing his coat from the back of his chair, he put on an apologetic smile that he didn’t feel in the slightest. Paul actually looked disappointed.

“Something wrong?” he asked, for the first time this evening actually seeming to be interested in Kurt.

Kurt made a non-committal sound while putting on his coat. “Just a family emergency.”

“We can always reschedule the date?” Paul said, looking hopeful. Kurt tried not to show his horror. The last thing he wanted to do was listen to him wax on some more about his ailments in costume designs.

“I don’t know yet. Let me give you a call,” Kurt put him off, throwing a few dollar bills on the table to settle his tab. If it was up to him he would call Paul when it was a cold day in hell. “It was nice meeting you,” he added, shaking Paul’s hand, before he fled the bar.

As soon as he was out in the crisp autumn air and walking back to his apartment building, he released a breath and closed his eyes briefly. Okay, the first blind date of his life had been more of a let down than even he had anticipated. He was going to kill Rachel for this, as soon as he got his fingers around her delicate little throat.

The sudden image in his head of the bartender who had lied for him made Kurt stop in his tracks. He really had been a handsome fellow, no doubt about it. But he was probably straight as an arrow. They always were when Kurt felt an instant attraction to them. It was obviously his lot in life to find and fall for straight guys. Or assholes like Jamie.

Kurt sighed and continued his way back home. As soon as he was back, he picked up his phone and dialed Rachel’s number.

She picked up after the second ring. “You’re home early,” she said in greeting. Kurt rolled his eyes and made his way to the kitchen to brew some tea.

“What did you expect me to do? Drag him home and have my wicked way with him?”

At her expectant silence, Kurt snorted. “I doubt he would’ve stopped talking long enough about himself for me to actually ask him home,” Kurt said, putting the kettle on the stove.

“What do you mean?” Rachel asked, her tone revealing her confusion.

“I mean, he was the most self involved guy I’ve ever had the misfortune of meeting, and I grew up being me and knowing you, so that’s saying a lot,” Kurt bit out, then rummaged around in his cupboards for some herbal tea. He needed something to calm his nerves.

Rachel was silent for a moment, then said, “I didn’t know he was self absorbed. He’s very passionate about his field of work, I admit, but I thought you would be able to bond over your love for fashion and design.”

“If I could’ve stated any opinions, we might have,” Kurt replied, then sighed again and slumped against his kitchen counter. “You weren’t too far off with your assumption, Rach. He just wasn’t it for me, I guess.”

“I’m sorry,” Rachel said. “I’ll pick someone better for next time.”

Kurt made a vague sound of assent while searching for a mug. “Oh, I should probably warn you: I lied to get out of the date early, citing a family emergency. I also told him I’d call, which I obviously won’t. So if he asks you about it, make something up. Tell him I’ve died or something.”

Rachel snorted, then laughed outright. “You? Are a horrible human being, Kurt Hummel,” she said, trying to sound stern but not doing a very good job of it.

Kurt scoffed, putting the cup next to the kettle. “Whose turn is it next?”

“Mercedes’,” Rachel said promptly. “No idea who she picked though. We all decided to keep our cards close to our chests. All I know is that her guys will definitely be different to the guys I’ll choose.”

“Not really that surprising,“ Kurt said, smiling a little. “Theater folk don’t really go all that well with educators.” Kurt just hoped that Mercedes wouldn’t set him up with a kindergarten teacher. It was bad enough that she’d found her love for ankle biters and decided to make it her career. She did get in contact with a lot of teachers and professors though. The men would be urbane at the very least. If there was one thing Kurt could tolerate even less than self involved people, it was ignorance.

“We’ll see, I guess. Should I call her or-”

“Oh, no,” Rachel interrupted him. “I’ll let the girls know. You just concentrate on being your fabulous self and get ready for your next date.”

“I just hope it won’t be as much of a disaster as this one was,” Kurt mumbled, pushing the thought of the hot bartender out of his mind. He’d barely talked to the guy. He was just nice to look at, nothing more. He was a bartender for fuck’s sake, most people didn’t even notice the people supplying them with alcohol.

It figured that Kurt had to be the exception to the rule.

Rachel laughed. “Don’t you worry, Kurt. We’ll find the perfect guy for you.”

His name was Hamish. He was originally from Scotland and had immigrated ten years ago. He was currently a Professor for American History at Columbia and while he was definitely nice and asked Kurt many questions about himself, he had an obvious flaw: he was easily 20 years Kurt’s senior.

Now, some guys might dig that, but all through dinner in an upscale restaurant in Manhattan with such a fancy dress code that Kurt worried briefly he might not find something suitable in his closet, Kurt felt like he was talking to a customer of his dad’s. He tried to ignore the age difference, he really did, but it became clear after a while that Kurt just couldn’t. Hamish seemed to be of the same opinion. After their desserts he gave Kurt a rueful smile and said that, while he’d enjoyed Kurt’s company very much, he couldn’t really see them in a romantic relationship. Kurt breathed a sigh of relief and agreed. They parted on amicable terms and Hamish even paid for a cab back to Brooklyn so Kurt wouldn’t have to take public transport.

As soon as he was back home he dialed up Mercedes.

“What gave you the impression that I wanted to date someone in my dad’s age bracket?” he asked her as soon as she picked up. She didn’t respond right away before she sighed and said, “I take it the date didn’t go well.”

“Your guess would be correct,” Kurt replied. “Lucky for you, it wasn’t unpleasant. Hamish agreed, by the way. We wouldn’t work out very well.”

“But you had fun at least?” Mercedes pressed.

Kurt had to give her that one. “The conversation was stimulating. It would’ve been better if he hadn’t been in his late forties.”

“Okay, okay, I get your point,” Mercedes said, then fell silent. “I didn’t think the age was important to you so long as you got along. But okay, I think I’ll have a better grasp on your preferences now. Alas, it’s Santana’s turn.”

Kurt’s stomach tightened. “Do I have to go purchase a gun?”

Mercedes laughed. “We all agreed to your terms that they won’t be psychopaths, d’you remember? She’ll hardly set you up with a boy from her former ‘hood, boo.”

“I guess,” Kurt said, not really convinced. If Santana thought her guy was a good match, she’d probably bail him out of jail for the date.

“Don’t worry,” Mercedes reassured him. “If nothing else, Amanda would be on her case. You’ll like him.”

“We’ll see,” Kurt hedged, then let Mercedes draw him into a discussion about her boyfriend’s latest mishap with kitchen appliances. Twenty minutes later he’d forgotten all about Santana and the next date looming on the horizon.

His date’s name was Christopher and they were somewhere in SoHo; Kurt couldn’t even remember where exactly or what the name of this establishment was. It was some sort of bar/lounge/dance club and the music was ridiculously loud - definitely too loud to have an actual conversation, that was for sure. Christopher was Kurt’s age and had recently finished his training as a paramedic. As far as Kurt could tell, he knew his way around an ambulance, but after a few drinks Kurt got the feeling that he didn’t like himself very much.

It hadn’t been obvious at first. Christopher had been a little fidgety when they met up in front of the club, but Kurt couldn’t really blame him for being nervous. When they’d entered the club and walked into a wall of loud electronic beats and heavy bass, Kurt felt the first doubts creeping up on him. How were they supposed to have a conversation, let alone get to know each other if they could barely even hear their own thoughts?

Christopher didn’t seem to think anything was amiss with his choice of establishment. He went straight for the bar and Kurt followed him, albeit reluctantly. After Christopher had downed his first drink in one swallow and had his second one in hand, he gestured to a set of metal stairs leading up to a bridge. Kurt could make out some couches and tables so he agreed. Maybe they’d be able to hear each other better up there.

They couldn’t. In fact, Christopher turned more quiet with every passing minute while he bounced his knee rapidly up and down. Kurt had to suppress the urge to put his hand on Christopher’s leg to stop him. If it had been one of his girls he might have done it, but he wasn’t and Kurt wasn’t comfortable touching people he barely knew. Christopher had downed his second drink almost as fast as his first one, and when a waitress had walked past their table he’d ordered a third drink. Kurt was still holding his first one.

Despite the loud music, Kurt tried to get a conversation going. Christopher was, after all, nice to look at and seemed like an interesting guy, if a bit shy and very nervous. But the few bits of information Kurt got out of him made it pretty clear that Christopher wasn’t comfortable with being on a date with another man. In fact, after his fourth drink it became pretty obvious that he had a whole bag of issues.

Why he’d even agreed to Santana’s suggestion to meet Kurt, he would probably never know. But here they were, Kurt trying his best to get Christopher to slow down on the alcohol and talk to him while Christopher’s goal seemed to be to get drunk as fast as possible so he would forget that he wanted to fuck Kurt.

Well, that ship had sailed about three drinks ago. The more alcohol Christopher had ingested, the more talkative and handsy he became. Kurt looked around, getting increasingly more worried about the events. Then Christopher slid down the bench, invading Kurt’s personal space and running a hand down Kurt’s arm.

“God, you’re so fucking gorgeous,” he slurred, not even looking into Kurt’s face but instead staring at Kurt’s throat.

“Thank you?” Kurt said, not sure what to do with this drunk, self-hating man petting his arm.

“‘s not fair,” Christopher said, a frown appearing on his face. “‘s not fair that you’re so tempting. Wish I didn’t wanna fuck you so bad, ‘s not right! Thought I could do this but it’s still not right.”

Something cold settled in Kurt’s stomach at the words. He tried to move away from Christopher because there was no way in hell he’d let that man paw him anymore. However, the attempt to put some space between them seemed to enrage Christopher. His face was a mask of anger when his hand closed painfully around Kurt’s shoulder and he shouted, “Now you’re playin’ hard to get? You wanna get fucked, ‘s all over your fuckin’ face! You want it, don’t deny it!” Then he leaned forward and tried to kiss Kurt.

Kurt had had enough. Unpleasant memories of his high school years and Dave Karofsky came back to him and he shoved Christopher away, not caring one bit if he hurt the man or not. “I am not that easy, you asshole,” he said icily and stood up. “And if you touch me one more time I’m going to call the police.” After a last glare he left without a backward glance.

He’d worked himself into a proper rage by the time he got out of the cab. As soon as Kurt had closed the apartment door, he grabbed the phone to call Santana. He got even angrier when she didn’t pick up right away. He put down the receiver with an angry snarl and stormed around his apartment, shedding the clothes he’d worn and putting on a pair of well worn sweatpants and a baggy t-shirt. Taking care of his beauty regime calmed him down a little bit, and when he was done he just sighed and tried calling Santana again. This time she picked up.

“You hate me, don’t you?” he asked her, his voice strangely small after he’d been so angry for the better part of the evening.

Santana seemed to agree that something was amiss. “What happened?” she asked, the tone of her voice not quite as bored as she’d usually reserved for Kurt.

Kurt shrugged even though she couldn’t see and sank down onto his couch. Putting an afghan over his legs he snuggled back into the couch cushions, let his cheek rest against the back and closed his eyes.

“Kurt?” she snapped, sounding alert. “Tell me what happened.”

“It’s just... could you please pick someone next time who doesn’t hate himself?” Kurt asked her quietly, not really in the mood to get into what had happened. It was bad enough that Christopher had succeeded in putting him back into the mindset of his high school years when Dave Karofsky had basically made Kurt responsible for his lack of self control by dressing too flamboyant and risqué, or as Karofsky had said once, ‘faggy and asking for it’. He really didn’t want to dwell on it now by talking about it at length.

“What did he do? Do I have to kick his ass?” Now Santana was in full protective mode and Kurt couldn’t help but smile a little. He heard Amanda’s voice in the background and Santana covering the receiver to talk to her. Now Kurt felt bad. He’d probably interrupted a date night. It was Friday, after all.

“Kurt? Do you want us to come over?” It was Amanda on the phone now, and hearing her earnest, compassionate voice nearly undid Kurt. She didn’t even know why he seemed to be in such an odd mood. Kurt doubted that Santana knew as he’d never told the story of how Karofsky had kissed him against his will and then sexually harassed him with glances and gestures all year. Their readiness to drop everything and come keep him company just because they thought he might need it made something in Kurt’s chest ache. Even though he wasn’t really on the verge of a nervous breakdown, the knowledge that his friends were there for him no matter when or what made him smile a bit.

“No, I’m okay,” he assured her. And he was. He was just in a funk, that was all. A good night’s sleep would get him out of it, he knew from experience.

“Are you sure?” she asked, still so concerned for his well being. Kurt’s smile lost the sad touch at that.

“Yes, I’m sure. Just... try not to set me up with a psycho?” he asked her, only half teasing.

Amanda laughed. “I’ll try my best. Though fair warning: lawyers are by nature all a little psycho.”

“I think I can manage that level of psycho,” he shot back, feeling his limbs relax a little. Maybe he should watch Gene Kelly for a bit before bed. He always got Kurt out of his moods.

“I’ll call you in a few days with the details, okay?” Amanda said, voice warm and careful.

“You do that.”

The receiver changed hands again and Santana was back on line. “I’ll kick his ass anyway,” she promised and Kurt laughed. “You don’t have to, I handled it.”

“Kurt, for you to get so spooked, he definitely deserves at least a dressing down.” Santana sounded so sincere that the tight feeling in Kurt’s chest returned full force. He swallowed heavily.

“Just... give him the number for a good psychiatrist who helps him to accept his sexuality.” That was all he would say and Santana knew him well enough not to try to get more out of him. She remained silent and Kurt was sure she would try to do her part.

“Now get back to your girlfriend,” Kurt said, finishing up the phone call. “Sorry I interrupted your date night.”

Santana hesitated. “You’ll be good over there?”

Kurt smiled sadly. “I’ll be fine.” I always am.

“Okay,” Santana conceded. “Later, Kurt.”

“Bye.” He hung up and let the phone slide into his lap. He stared at the TV, debating if he should pick out a Gene Kelly movie or not, then decided to go straight to bed. Tomorrow was a new day. With that in mind, he got up and went down the hall to his bedroom.

After the disastrous outing with Christopher, Kurt got wary about the next date. What if Amanda chose someone equally unfit? She’d known Kurt the shortest out of all of them, though Kurt was pretty sure she’d heard enough stories about him from Santana. Still, she was mostly acquainted with lawyers. He hoped the worst that would happen would be another boring evening of watching other bar patrons while he desperately waited for the date to end.

As it turned out, Calvin was a perfectly respectable guy, if extremely bland. He was an accountant, not a lawyer, as Kurt found out pretty early on into their date. He knew that he wasn’t the most exciting guy and joked about it. He was funny in a very dry way, and he made Kurt laugh, but there was simply no spark whatsoever. He wasn’t really Kurt’s type, and the fact that getting the newest limited edition of postal stamps seemed to be the highlight of Calvin’s life didn’t help the matter either. They didn’t have a lot of common ground, it seemed. Kurt didn’t get the beauty of chess, of which Calvin was a massive fan. Calvin, on the other hand, never really got the point of dressing up or fancy clothes in general, which made Kurt hurt deep in his very soul. Sexually speaking, Kurt could very well have been on a date with his long lost brother. Kurt tried to picture Calvin taking off his clothes but got stuck at the image of him folding his socks and underwear all prim and proper before he went to bed. No, he couldn’t even picture him naked, it was just too weird.

Unlike Kurt, Calvin seemed to be very attracted to him, which made for a very embarrassing few minutes after their date when Calvin tried to kiss him and groped Kurt’s ass. Kurt set him straight right away and way less cutting than he usually would have. Calvin seemed disappointed, but accepted the rejection, then wished Kurt good luck in finding the right guy.

At this point Kurt had lost all faith in his friends to find the perfect guy for him. Admittedly, his confidence in them had always been small to begin with, but these past few experiences really didn’t bode well for the future. So far he didn’t even want to make out with any of the guys they’d set him up with. It had been a very disappointing first round indeed. Although at least Amanda’s boring accountant friend hadn’t been self-involved, way too old or self-hating.

Maybe he should give craigslist another chance. At least the guys there were straightforward in what they wanted. Then again, there were some real psychos there as well. Better he stuck with the devils he knew - also known as his girl friends.

After he’d reported the failure of his date with Calvin, it was Rachel’s turn again and she’d assured him that this time she’d picked the perfect guy for him. His name was Jason and he was the rising star in a small production. He had a voice like an angel, according to Rachel, and coming from her that was the highest compliment anyone could ever get.

Apparently the theater folk really liked the bar in Brooklyn because that’s where Jason wanted to meet him. Kurt didn’t really have a problem with that and agreed to meet there, secretly hoping that maybe Cute-Bartender-Guy (as he’d secretly started to think of him in his head) was working tonight. Which might not be the best starting point for a date, all things considered.

When he entered the bar, his first glance was to the back. Kurt felt a disappointing little clench in his gut when he couldn’t spot Cute-Bartender-Guy behind the bar, then shook himself out of it and looked around the room for his date.

He spotted him right away, and something in Kurt cringed and recoiled. Really, Rachel? he asked her in his mind. Did she even know him at all? He really, really couldn’t spend a night with that guy, he just couldn’t. It would feel like cradle-robbing, he looked so young. He had to be at least 18 to even get inside the bar, Kurt knew that much, but seriously? He looked like he was twelve and was even more flamboyant than Kurt, which was saying something. It might be chauvinistic as hell but he liked his guys a little manlier than this Jason would ever be capable of being.

Kurt debated with himself if he should turn around right away and just leave him there, but his manners piped up and told him firmly that he couldn’t do that to the kid. He should at least let him know that the date wasn’t going to happen. An idea popped into his head how he could finish this evening as quick and painless as possible, so he steeled his shoulders and marched right up to the table where Jason was waiting for him. His face lit up when he spotted Kurt, but the expression soon morphed into confusion when Kurt didn’t smile back.

“Hi,” Kurt greeted as soon as he was in hearing distance. “Are you Jason?”

“Yes?” he replied and shit, he even sounded twelve. And people accused Kurt of sounding like a girl.

“Kurt asked me to meet you and tell you he’s sorry but he can’t make it,” Kurt lied and felt awful at Jason’s crestfallen look. He’d obviously really been looking forward to this date.

“Uhm, okay?” he said after a while. “Does he, like, want to reschedule?” He was so hopeful that something in Kurt’s chest twisted painfully.

“Honestly, between the two of us?” Kurt said, leaning forward. “I think he’s still hung up on that guy he dated a few years ago. He was just doing Rachel a favor. It’s probably best if you don’t try again, you wouldn’t get out of it with your heart intact, honey.”

There, at least he’d trashed himself while getting out of a date he wouldn’t be able to endure. Jason looked positively crushed, but nodded and gave Kurt a grateful smile before he got up and left the bar. Kurt sighed in relief. He turned to follow suit, then hesitated. It was Friday and the night was still young. Why should he go home just yet, when he was already here? One drink wouldn’t hurt anyone, and maybe he’d get his head clear. Decision made, he walked over to the bar and slid into a recently vacated stool.

“What can I get you?” a vaguely familiar voice asked. Kurt’s head shot up and his heart skipped a beat when he looked into a familiar pair of hazel eyes. He blinked at Cute-Bartender-Guy who he’d been sure wasn’t working tonight. He was smiling politely at Kurt, waiting for his order.

“Uhm, a Virgin Strawberry Daiquiri please,” Kurt decided after a beat and Cute-Bartender-Guy nodded, turning around. Kurt stared at his back, his gaze traveling down to the tight black pants. He filled them well, his ass looked fantastic in the black material. Firm and round, it practically begged Kurt to touch it. He could feel the blush rising on his face at that thought and snapped his gaze up, but that only made it worse when his eyes came to rest on the guy’s broad shoulders. He definitely filled out that white shirt and black vest pretty nicely.

Get a grip, Hummel’ he chastised himself when he realized that he’d ogled the guy pretty much the entire time he’d been turned around. Kurt tore his gaze away from the appealing figure to look down at his entwined hands on the counter top.

“One Virgin Strawberry Daiquiri,” Cute-Bartender-Guy interrupted his thoughts and put the glass down in front of Kurt.

“Thanks,” Kurt mumbled, taking a sip and smiling at him when the fruity concoction rolled over his tongue.

“Bad date again?” Cute-Bartender-Guy asked him after a moment, nodding to the table Kurt had recently stood next to. Kurt cringed and took another sip of his cocktail.

“You could say that,” he hedged, then buried his face in his hands. “I’m a horrible human being who shouldn’t be let out of his apartment.”

“Why’s that?” Cute-Bartender-Guy asked, putting his forearm on the counter and cocking his head, signaling that he was all ears. Kurt stared at the naked arm, noticing the tendons bulging slightly when the other man flexed his hand. He tore his gaze away and up where he was met with a curious gaze. Kurt sighed.

“I just lied to that poor kid because I couldn’t bear sitting there with him feeling like a pervy old man. But really, how could I not feel like a perv when he looks barely old enough to get in here, let alone buy himself a drink? Shit, I shouldn’t have agreed to my friends setting me up on blind dates. What was I even thinking? So far they’ve either been self involved to the extreme, total psychos or had the sex appeal of a wooden stick. They were all horrible. Well, except for Hamish, but he was way too old. He could’ve been my dad and that’s just...” Here he shuddered, then realized that he’d essentially babbled at a complete stranger and looked up, apologetic.

Cute-Bartender-Guy seemed amused by Kurt’s diatribe. He changed his position and put his chin on his hand. “Well, it is pretty hard meeting the right person without putting yourself out there, I suppose.”

Kurt had to agree, but still. “Why do I get all the unsuitable ones though?” he lamented and put his head on his arms. “My friends should know me better than they apparently do. Am I really that hard to please?”

“I don’t know, but why should you settle for something less than you deserve?”

Kurt looked up at that, but Cute-Bartender-Guy’s face told him he was completely serious. Kurt couldn’t help a small smile forming on his face. “You might have a point.”

“I always have,” he replied, but before he could say more someone shouted, “Your break’s not for another two hours, Anderson!” and Cute-Bartender-Guy cringed.

“Sorry, got to go back to work,” he said, then walked over to the guy who’d shouted for him.

Kurt didn’t know why, but he was intrigued. He explained his curiosity with the fact that Cute-Bartender-Guy - Anderson? Kurt hoped that wasn’t his first name, it didn’t fit him at all - was hot as sin, but something else, something deeper tickled Kurt’s fancy. It was as if he somehow knew him on a deeper level. It intrigued him enough that he decided to stay and get another drink, maybe get another chance to talk to the guy. His desire to talk apparently wasn’t one-sided as Cute-Bartender-Guy came to Kurt’s side of the bar every so often, talking a bit about how he discovered new sides to New York every day and how much more expensive it was than he’d anticipated when he’d come here three years ago. Kurt was excited to learn that the guy knew his way around a Broadway musical, but before they could go deeper into it, he was called away again.

When there was finally a lull in customers, Cute-Bartender-Guy came back to where Kurt was sitting, put his towel down and said, “You know, three’s usually the charm.”

Having no idea what he was talking about, Kurt just gave him a puzzled glance. Cute-Bartender-Guy ducked his head. “The dates, I mean. Usually three’s the charm.”

Kurt just laughed. “I passed number three two guys ago,” he confided. “And trust me, he was definitely not charming. If anything, he scared the crap out of me.”

“What do you mean?” he asked, clearly alarmed now.

And while Kurt didn’t want to talk about it with Santana or Amanda, for some reason he didn’t even think twice about spilling his guts to this virtual stranger.

“He had issues with being gay, got drunk and handsy and cursed at me for tempting him. He tried to kiss me and I shoved him off. It was just... he dragged up bad memories from high school, is all.”

Cute-Bartender-Guy was silent for a moment, seemed to mull something over in his head. Then he seemed to come to a decision. “You know, you could have all your dates here.”

Kurt stared at him, disbelieving. “Excuse me?”

Cute-Bartender-Guy fidgeted. “It’s just... you would be safe here. I’m working almost every weekend and a few shifts here and there during the week. If you don’t feel safe or need someone to give you an excuse to leave your date because they bore you to tears, I could help.”

Kurt stared some more, not sure he’d really heard what he had just heard. After a moment he said, “Well, I appreciate the offer, Mr. …?”

That seemed to startle the guy. “Oh, right.” He wiped his hand on his pants and then held it out for Kurt to shake, “My name’s Blaine. I’m a student at NYU and I’m a nice guy who just wants to help, I promise.”

Kurt stared at Cute-Bartender-Guy - Blaine, his name was Blaine and that suited him so much better than Anderson, thank god - then at his hand before slowly lifting his own to shake it. A spark of electricity traveled down his arm and Kurt bit down on the inside of his cheek so he wouldn’t give his instant attraction away.

“Kurt,” he introduced himself. “I’m not sure if you’re for real or not, but I’d be happy to take you up on your offer.”

Blaine smiled at him outright. “I promise I’m not a psychopath, just eager to help. My friends would all tell you I have a hero complex so... there you go.”

Kurt couldn’t help but smile back. Blaine’s smile was infecting. “I’ll hold you to that.”

In retrospect, Kurt should’ve made sure he had a safety net from the very beginning. Even if his friends chose the guys they set him up with, the Christopher debacle had clearly shown that they weren’t infallible. Having someone who had his back was certainly a wise decision.

“I have to get back to work,” Blaine said after a moment in which they just looked at each other, grinning. Kurt nodded, then looked at the clock and winced. He drained his drink and put a few bills on the counter. “I’ve got to get home. I’ve got a friend to yell at for setting me up with a child.”

Blaine laughed and the sound send a surge of lust so strong through Kurt that he almost fell off his stool. “You do that,” Blaine smiled at him. “I’ll see you around. Kurt.”

“Have a nice evening. Blaine,” Kurt replied, then slid off the stool and made his way home, all the while thinking that the prospect of more dates wasn’t quite as daunting anymore now that he had a nice, hot bartender looking out for him.

He ignored the little voice in the back of his mind telling him that he set himself up for another major heartbreak. Blaine was unavailable. He knew that. It wouldn’t be a problem.

He wouldn’t let it be a problem.

Mercedes’ pick for him this time was a guy named Richard. He was 28 and teaching Math in a high school. He wasn’t exactly out to his students but he didn’t hide his preferences either, Mercedes assured him. Apparently the Christopher thing had made its round in Kurt’s circle of friends.

Richard was indifferent to where they met and didn’t raise a fuss when Kurt told him he wanted to meet in a bar instead of a restaurant. So it was yet another Friday night that brought Kurt to the bar a few blocks from where he lived, meeting a potential Mr. Right. He caught a glimpse of Blaine working behind the bar when he entered and received an encouraging smile before he had to tend to a customer. Kurt took another deep breath and took a look around for Richard.

He spotted him after a moment, made his way over and smiled encouragingly at him. Richard was a pleasant surprise. He was taller and broader than Kurt - which, in and of itself, wasn’t really all that difficult - with blue eyes and artfully tousled chestnut hair. If anything, Kurt at least had something pretty to look at throughout the evening.

Richard obviously liked what he saw too. He smiled at Kurt, asked him what he’d like to drink, listened attentively while Kurt talked about himself and readily answered questions about himself. He touched Kurt’s hand or arm to emphasize a point or just because he could - Kurt never really knew but he didn’t exactly disapprove - and Kurt thought that finally, one of his friends had hit the jackpot.

That was, of course, the moment it all fell apart. Kurt wasn’t even sure how they brought up that topic of conversation, but at one point they’d strayed to Musicals and Broadway shows and Richard made a disparaging comment about the flamboyance of Broadway and that he’d never seen the appeal and hated every minute he’d been subjected to it before by former boyfriends.

Kurt gaped at him, not believing what he’d just heard. Okay, so he’d buried his dreams of singing on Broadway before he’d left high school, but his heart still belonged to the glitz and glamor of Broadway. He breathed the songs and the costumes and a partner who couldn’t even appreciate it was unthinkable.

Kurt tried to save the date by bringing up that surely he couldn’t argue the superiority of the old musical movies. Richard, apparently oblivious that he lost Kurt’s interest with every parting minute, just replied that they were almost as bad as being subjected to a musical on a stage and that he hated Gene Kelly with a passion.

Kurt could barely hold back a shocked gasp at that. Who could hate Gene Kelly? Seriously, it just wasn’t in any gay man’s genetic code to hate Gene Kelly!

Kurt was so flustered by this awful development that he excused himself to escape to the bathroom. He needed to regroup.

He locked himself into a stall and sank down on the toilet seat to think. He just couldn’t understand this. It had gone so well until Richard had to go and say that. Kurt knew himself well enough that he could never live with someone who couldn’t at least appreciate musicals. They didn’t have to love them quite the same way Kurt did, but if life had been different Kurt could very well be on Broadway himself.

Just the thought of not being able to talk with his partner about a new show, or listening to an old number together while cuddling on the sofa on a cold winter’s night, was a rather sad prospect indeed. And really, loving Broadway wasn’t exactly something to be ashamed of. It wasn’t like Kurt loved to kill small kittens or anything. The music was catchy, and Kurt couldn’t even pretend not to sing to his favorite numbers once in a while. Giving that up? Well, he wouldn’t exclude that he would tone it down if his partner was annoyed by it, but giving it up altogether was not an option.

That wasn’t the worst though. Someone who hated Gene Kelly? No, it didn’t fit with Kurt’s picture of the perfect guy at all. They could dislike Broadway all they wanted, but hating Gene Kelly pretty much meant they hated an essential part of who Kurt was.

Decision made, Kurt left the bathroom, squared his shoulders and made his way back to Richard who greeted him with a warm smile. Kurt didn’t smile back, which resulted in a puzzled frown. “Are you okay?” he asked, reaching out to Kurt who put his hand in his lap to evade the touch. The puzzled frown increased.

“I’m very sorry, Richard, but I don’t think the two of us will work out,” Kurt told him firmly. Richard was clearly confused and Kurt couldn’t really blame him. He would’ve been confused as well in his stead.

“I thought it was going well, actually,” Richard said after a moment, entwining his hands on the table top.

Kurt grimaced. “It was, until you told me you hate Broadway and musicals. I’m sorry, I can’t see myself with someone who hates it. It saved my life so many times during high school!”

Richard sat back, clearly stunned. Then something bitter flashed over his face. “You’re telling me you don’t want to pursue this further because I hate Broadway?”

Kurt stiffened at the tone. “Yes, that is precisely what I am telling you.”

Richard’s brows shot up and he stared at Kurt in disbelief. Then he shook his head and laughed hollowly. “Wow, Mercedes didn’t mention that you’re so shallow.”

Kurt went rigid at that, but remained calm. Richard may think that of him, but he didn’t really know Kurt well enough, and to an outsider his reasoning might look shallow. Biting back an instinctive cutting response, he took a calming breath and said, “I might seem to you that way, but I’m really not. It’s just that I think partners should be absolutely honest with each other, and if you give me the constant feeling that I’m doing something wrong whenever I want to go see a Broadway show or listen to my favorite tunes...”

Richard opened his mouth to say something but Kurt shook his head. “Let me finish?” Richard sank back in his seat, then nodded reluctantly. Kurt took another deep breath and continued, “Don’t deny that I would drive you crazy after a month of listening to me gush about one thing or another, and don’t pretend you could change for me or tolerate my devotion to Gene Kelly. I don’t want you to change, because your hate is something fundamental to you, something that defines you. So, if I don’t want you to change, and I definitely don’t want to change either, it’s clearly a bad decision to even try if we already know this would stand between us.”

Richard sat there, seeming a bit stunned by Kurt’s reasoning, but not protesting it either. After a while he sighed deeply and shook his head. “I find it regrettable that you don’t even want to try, but I guess I’m glad you’re being honest.” He flashed a small, sad smile at Kurt, stood up and grabbed his jacket. “Take care,” he mumbled, nodded a goodbye and threw some dollar bills on the table before he left the bar. As soon as he was out of sight, Kurt slumped in his chair and rubbed his temples.

He gave himself a minute before he picked up the money and made his way over to the bar to settle the tab. It didn’t take long for Blaine to make his way over to him, giving him a sympathetic glance.

“That didn’t look like it ended well,” he commented and took the money when Kurt held it out for him. Kurt just shook his head, on the verge of turning around to leave as well before he whirled back around and grabbed Blaine’s wrist.

“Am I shallow when I can’t go out with a man who hates Gene Kelly?” he asked before his brain-to-mouth filter could engage. Blaine only blinked at him, then looked down at where Kurt was still grabbing his wrist. He let it go immediately and felt a blush rise on his face.

“Who could hate Gene Kelly?” Blaine asked, clearly confused, and something in Kurt’s chest loosened. ‘See?’, he wanted to shout at Richard, ‘even straight guys like Gene Kelly!

“It gets worse,” Kurt said gravely and slumped down on a stool, putting his cheek on his fist. “He hated musicals in general. I breathe Broadway. I could never go out with someone who hates such a fundamental part of me.”

Blaine blinked down at him, biting his lip in thought. Kurt tried not to stare at the plump lower lip currently mangled by straight white teeth. He failed miserably.

“I don’t think that partners necessarily need to have everything in common,” he finally said, so adorably earnest that Kurt’s heart ached. “That would be kind of boring, actually. But if you got the feeling that he couldn’t accept that part of you then why should you settle for him? It’s your heart on the line here.”

Kurt looked at him, his heart thumping heavily in his chest. This guy was so perfect it almost hurt. Kurt looked down at the counter top to prevent Blaine seeing his feelings plain as day in his eyes. A sad smile curled his lips. “You’re right. It is.”

“The next guy will be a new chance,” Blaine tried to cheer him up. Kurt snorted. Six guys in and he’d found fault with each and every one of them. Maybe he was too demanding.

Shaking his head, Kurt let that thought go and smiled at Blaine. “Let’s just hope the next one won’t hate Gene Kelly.”

The good news was that Greg didn’t hate Gene Kelly or himself, but dear Lord on a pogo stick, if Kurt heard one more time about this glorious ex-boyfriend of his he would stab someone with his toothpick.

Apparently Greg, currently firefighter in training, was still hung up on his ex, glorious police officer Damon, and couldn’t stop telling Kurt all about their good times together and alternately bursting into tears. What had Santana been thinking, setting him up with a guy who was obviously still hung up on his ex? Santana met the strangest guys during her police officer training, that was for sure.

At the moment he had a sobbing Greg on his shoulder who was ruining Kurt’s shirt while Kurt patted his head and tried to console the man. Kurt’s gaze traveled through the bar and caught Blaine’s, who was polishing glasses. He quirked an eyebrow at Kurt and looked pointedly at Greg. He just shook his head and gave Blaine a self deprecating smile and mouthed, “Tell you later” before he looked down at Greg, only to give him a tissue, which he took gratefully to clean his nose. Then he started to babble at Kurt, apologizing profusely for being such a mess and that this had clearly been a bad idea and it definitely wasn’t Kurt’s fault but he, Greg, was clearly not ready for a new relationship right now and would it be possible for Kurt to call Greg a taxi?

It was the most exhausting two hours of Kurt’s life to date, but in the end he maneuvered Greg into a taxi, told him for the sixth time that it was no problem and it was okay, assuring Greg again that he needn’t take the blame because he couldn’t help how he felt, and finally closed the door and let the taxi take off. He took a deep breath of the cold New York air, shivering slightly in only his shirt and pants before he made his way back inside and straight to the bar where Blaine was already waiting for him with a Virgin Strawberry Daiquiri. Kurt grinned at him gratefully and took a sip.

“How come you never drink alcohol?” Blaine asked, curiously cocking his head to the side.

Kurt snorted. “And be a blubbering mess like my date just now?” he quipped, then shook his head. “I drink it sometimes, just not in public unless I’m with people I trust. I had a bad experience in high school.”

“You seem to have had a lot of bad experiences in high school,” Blaine said, a bit cautious. Kurt froze, his drink halfway to his mouth. He thought about that for a minute, remembered the bullying and Karofsky forcing a kiss on him, the shunning for being who he was, the slushie attacks and of course, the almost alcohol poisoning thanks to April Rhodes, then shrugged his shoulders.

“I guess I have,” he conceded, toasting Blaine and then drowning his drink in one go. Blaine’s gaze was concerned now but he took the glass when Kurt held it out for him.

“If you want to talk...” he started but tapered off when Kurt frowned. In all honesty, he wasn’t sure if he wanted to talk about it, but Blaine always seemed to make it so easy to confide in him. Still, this was a chapter of Kurt’s life that he very rarely, if ever, liked to revisit. So he shook his head and Blaine nodded, going back to mixing Kurt’s drink in silence. Kurt got the feeling that Blaine wanted to say something else, but he never did. He just put the glass on the counter and asked Kurt what the crying had been all about. Kurt laughed a little, then proceeded to tell him everything.

It was in the quiet of his apartment about two hours later that Kurt started to question himself and his motives here. When had he started to talk to Blaine as if they’d been friends for years? And why did it never feel like a hardship to tell him about some of the more painful parts of his past? He’d confessed things to him he’d only ever told his dad. His heart clenched painfully in his chest, already knowing the answer, but Kurt quashed it down ruthlessly. He wouldn’t go there. He just wouldn’t.

After he’d laughed at Santana for hours on end, Amanda promised him she would send a more suitable guy his way who was definitely not mooning over anyone, all the while ignoring Santana’s protests that he’d seemed fine for Christ’s sake, how could she have known he was still hung up on the dick?

Kurt’s next date’s name was Simon. He was a year older than Kurt, almost finished with law school and on the fast track to becoming a corporate lawyer in his father’s firm. He was a little puzzled that Kurt insisted on meeting in a bar instead of the upscale restaurant Simon had originally wanted to go to but readily agreed after Kurt explained that he’d prefer meeting in a familiar setting where he was at ease.

Simon was charming from the very start. He was a handsome young man with lightly tousled, honey blond hair - no doubt a very expensive haircut was to thank for the illusion of simplicity - chocolate brown eyes and a smile that showed white, even teeth. His voice was a lovely baritone and he didn’t hold back with compliments on Kurt’s wardrobe and hairstyle, making Kurt blush a little bit. He was charming, cordial, very polite and a little flirty. All in all, Simon set him at ease within a matter of minutes of meeting him and Kurt felt himself relax.

Simon talked a bit about his lectures and how much he was looking forward to working his own cases. He was ambitious, no question about it, but Kurt liked a little bit of ambition in a guy.

After they’d talked about their current professional engagements, Kurt asked Simon about his childhood, where he’d grown up. Simon laughed.

“I have to admit, I had it easy,” he said. “My parents are wealthy and I went to private schools where I received the best education. I knew very early on that I wanted to become a lawyer like my father, and I wanted to go to the same university he attended, so here I am.”

Kurt smiled, looking at Simon’s hand encircling a glass of Chardonnay. His fingers slid up and down the delicate stem and Kurt could feel the color creep into his cheeks. When he looked up he was met with a smirk. His blush deepened but he couldn’t stop the smile either. Good to know that Simon seemed to be interested, it would’ve been very awkward if Kurt were the only one getting some good vibes here.

“What about you?” Simon asked, taking a sip from his wine. “How did you end up in New York of all places?”

Kurt shrugged slightly and raised a hand for a waitress. He debated briefly if he was comfortable enough with Simon to order a glass of wine as well but when the waitress appeared next to their table, he stuck with his non-alcoholic beverage.

“I grew up in Ohio,” Kurt answered after the waitress had left them. “It wasn’t exactly the most accepting place. It had been my dream to move to New York since I knew that I was gay. Granted, back then I thought I’d come and make it on Broadway, but I think fashion suits me much better.”

Kurt’s gaze was drawn to the bar and Blaine who put a number of drinks on a tray, including Kurt’s Virgin Strawberry Daiquiri. He looked up briefly and winked at Kurt who couldn’t help the small smile tugging on his lips. Simon noticed and turned around to find out what was so amusing. When he caught sight of Blaine, his jaw tightened for a second before he turned back to Kurt, his face carefully blank.

Something changed at that moment. At first Kurt didn’t even notice. It was just strange little barbs here and there about the establishment and the poor service - for all the times Kurt had been there, bad service had never been an issue - which Kurt dismissed as Simon being raised by rich parents and being used to posher bars and customer service.

Then Simon started touching Kurt, getting in his personal space without any warning, which confused him and made him slightly wary. While the interest had been obvious on both their sides, this sudden increase in PDAs just didn’t fit with the subtle flirtation they had been engaging in before. Kurt tried to get a glimpse of Blaine to signal him that he might need rescue if this got worse, but couldn’t make him out behind the bar. Great, the one time he actually needed his services he was out on a break. Fantastic.

But then Blaine entered from the back, carrying a case with fresh bottles of beer and Kurt relaxed slightly, knowing his knight was only a shout away.

Simon seemed to have followed his gaze. He snorted and raised an eyebrow at Kurt. “You know him?”

Kurt shook his head. “Only in passing. He’s the bartender.”

“Oh, is that what he’s doing these days?” Simon’s tone was decidedly condescending. Kurt didn’t like it at all.

“What do you mean?” he asked, his gaze traveling to Blaine for a moment before coming back to Simon who looked almost smug.

“We used to study together at NYU before he dropped out. The loser never could catch up with the rest of us law students. I’m not surprised he ended up here tending bar.”

Something in Kurt sat up and took notice at Simon’s words, but a bigger part was extremely offended on Blaine’s behalf. He knew that Blaine was still a student at NYU - he’d said as much after he’d offered Kurt his help and Blaine didn’t strike him as someone who would lie about stuff like that - so whatever strange idea Simon had of Blaine was definitely false.

“You’re, what, a year apart? Do you even know him?” Kurt asked, trying to tamp down his rising anger. Simon didn’t seem to notice. He just snorted again and waved dismissively.

“Why should I bother? He’s a college drop out. His parents must be so proud. He probably lacks the intelligence to study law, so he’s definitely not worth my time.”

At that, Kurt snapped. “Are you kidding me?” he bit out, louder than he’d wanted to but not sorry either. “Did you even try to understand the reasons why he might have dropped out?”

Simon looked at him, surprised. “No, and frankly I don’t care. He’s not exactly on the path to glory,” Simon said, honestly puzzled. That was the last straw for Kurt.

“If he is beneath you, what would you make of my dad who is a mere mechanic? He never even went to college. For that matter, am I even in your league? After all, I didn’t study law either, I’m just designing clothes. According to you, that doesn’t put me on the path to glory either.”

Simon sat there, frozen in place and clearly uncomfortable with the attention Kurt was drawing. Kurt really couldn’t give a shit. Simon tried to put a reassuring smile on his face. “Relax, Kurt. I didn’t mean to offend you,” he tried to soothe him. He waved vaguely in Blaine’s direction and added, “He’s really not worth fighting over. Believe me, even his parents think so.” Simon tried to take his hand, but Kurt shot up from his seat, leaned on his hands and seethed, “You’re a sanctimonious asshole I wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole and I’d appreciate it if you would leave now.”

The stunned look on Simon’s face took Kurt by surprise. Had nobody ever talked to him like that? Had nobody ever disagreed with him? It would certainly explain a lot, especially his disparaging comments he flung left and right without seeming to realize that they were hurtful. He was probably used to getting whatever he wanted, too. Well, he couldn’t have Kurt, that was for sure. Nobody who could speak so dismissively about another person was worth Kurt’s time or affection, especially not when they trashed a man who had been nothing but nice to Kurt the entire time they’d known each other.

“I...” Simon started, then didn’t seem to know how to continue. Kurt just crossed his arms over his chest and glared at him.

“Frankly, I don’t give a shit. If you don’t leave then I will. Have a nice evening and don’t bother calling me again.” He grabbed his coat, turned and made a straight beeline for the bar where Blaine was staring at him with an unreadable expression on his face. His gaze flickered briefly over Kurt’s shoulder - probably to Simon, not that Kurt cared - before reaching for a glass to make Kurt his usual drink. Kurt slid onto a stool in front of Blaine, resolutely not turning around to check if Simon had left yet, and gave Blaine a grateful smile when he set his drink down in front of him.

“Not to be inappropriately curious, but what was that all about?” Blaine asked after Kurt had taken a sip. It was obvious that he didn’t want to pry but had heard enough to get that it had pissed Kurt off majorly. If he believed Simon, Blaine had to at least know him from around campus.

“He was an asshole, is all,” Kurt replied curtly, trying to squash the conversation.

Blaine sighed and replied, “Yeah, he always was.”

That got Kurt’s attention. Shooting Blaine a curious look he asked, “You know each other?”

Blaine made a face, studiously not looking at Kurt and cleaning the counter top instead. “I was studying law before I changed majors. Plus, our parents frequent the same social circles.”

Now Kurt was definitely intrigued. “What are you studying now?”

Blaine hesitated, clearly uncomfortable with the conversation, before he seemed to give up his inner struggle. “Musical education,” he said at last.

Something warm unfurled in Kurt’s chest. Yes, he could see that. The little he’d gathered from Blaine during their short acquaintance was a caring nature. It definitely fit him better than law, that was for sure.

“That’s... definitely a long way from law,” Kurt decided to comment and Blaine just drew up his shoulders, clearly defensive.

“I was already 19 when I started college,” he explained, not looking at Kurt who desperately wanted to ask what had happened to him. “I never fit in with the law students and the subject was so boring but I tried to stick with it because my dad wanted me to become a lawyer like him. I tried for two years, studied as hard as I could even though, at times, the subject matter made no sense to me. It was always so hard. Then I snuck into some music classes, just to see what it would be like, and I felt...”

He stopped, a wistful smile appearing on his face, and whispered, “I felt alive there.”

The smile slowly vanished and he shrugged. “I gave up a couple months later and changed majors.”

He stopped after that, a look of pain flashing through his eyes. Kurt wanted to grab his hand, wanted to reassure him or maybe just hug him but Blaine didn’t look like he’d appreciate it. So all Kurt did was ask quietly, “I take it he didn’t react very well. Your dad, I mean.”

A bitter little smile twisted Blaine’s mouth and Kurt’s heart ached.

“You could say that,” he mumbled, shooting Kurt a quick look. “He disowned me and told me I’d have to put myself through college if I wanted to pursue this silly career choice.” Suddenly he spread his arms and gave Kurt a fake smile. “So here I am, putting myself through college.”

Kurt stared at him, not sure what to say to that. He ached for Blaine who clearly had lost quite a lot just to be able to pursue his dreams, but on the other hand he was fiercely proud of this man.

“I think you’re very brave,” he said quietly, his gaze not wavering when Blaine looked at him incredulously. When he realised that Kurt meant what he’d said, he lowered his arms, sighed deeply and shook his head.

“I’m not brave,” he confessed, equally quiet. “I’m just stubborn. Always gets me into trouble.”

Kurt sensed that there was another story there but decided not to pry. Instead he smiled at Blaine and raised his glass. “Well, there are worse things than being stubborn. Being a sanctimonious asshole, for example.”

The laugh came so sudden that Kurt couldn’t help himself but stare at Blaine. Fuck, this guy was so beautiful and probably didn’t even know it. The laugh lit up his whole face and his eyes sparkled.

Kurt wanted to kiss him.

He froze. Oh no. Please, just... no. Not another crush-on-a-straight-guy debacle! He’d had enough of those during high school. He shook himself out of that alarming thought and instead smiled at Blaine’s amusement.

“Well,” Blaine said when he stopped laughing though his eyes were still sparkling with amusement. “I guess we won’t see much of him anymore, will we?”

“Definitely not,” Kurt said vehemently. “I’m just a little alarmed that I’m now eight guys down the line and still haven’t found anyone I’d even want to have a second date with. This is getting out of hand.”

Blaine’s grin dimmed down to a soft smile. “Sometimes it just takes a little time to find that special someone who will be just right for you.”

Something caught in Kurt’s throat and he looked up at Blaine. Was that... did he just flirt? But no, Blaine looked at him the same way he’d always looked at Kurt: a little amused, a lot fond and always eager to lend him a sympathetic ear.

Great, now he was starting to hear things he wanted to hear. It was high time he found someone who could hold his interest for longer than five minutes. Why couldn’t any of the guys he met be even remotely as interesting as Blaine clearly was? There were so many facets he didn’t know about the other man but desperately wanted to learn. It was frustrating and not a little sad.

Kurt covered that sobering thought with a small smile for Blaine and emptied his drink in one go. “I suppose. Let’s just hope he’s actually out there for me to find.”

The strange expression on Blaine’s face at those words puzzled Kurt long after he’d gone home.

“So far I’ve got to say, this whole dating business was a total wash.”

It had been nine weeks since he’d last met up with his girl friends and the plan to set Kurt up had been formed. After meeting up with and rejecting a new guy every week, he’d called a time out and begged the girls to go out with him before the last round of meetings started and he completely lost his mind.

Santana scoffed. “That’s because you’re a picky little bastard.”

Kurt gave her a flat stare. “Oh, and that psycho you set me up with the first time had nothing to do with it.”

Santana rolled her eyes but ducked her head. “I talked to him after and told him it’d be in his best interest to sort himself out,” she said, shooting him a defensive look. “He agreed.” She looked at Amanda when she took Santana’s hand and gave her an encouraging smile. “At least Greg wasn’t hating himself,” she added.

Kurt snorted. “It’s best if we don’t mention Greg, okay?”

Amanda snorted and Santana shook her head. “Yeah, whatever. He sucked, you win. Happy?”

“Ecstatic,” Kurt said, voice flat.

Mercedes grinned into her drink, then pointed out, “I didn’t send you any psychos.”

“No, you sent me a guy who hated Gene Kelly!” Kurt shot back and Mercedes grimaced.

“How was I supposed to know he didn’t have musical taste?” she exclaimed, then looked down at the table. “He is a Maths teacher, after all. Don’t think I ever met one with a creative bone in their body.”

Rachel patted her shoulder in sympathy, then opened her mouth to no doubt state her opinion on her chosen dates, but Kurt prevented her by raising an authoritative hand and shaking his head. “You don’t have a say here. You sent me a self involved idiot and a twelve year old.”

Rachel’s mouth snapped shut and she glared at Kurt, then crossed her arms and pouted. Santana snickered and raised her glass to toast nobody in particular before she drained it.

“I wish I could say I sent you the perfect guy,” Amanda piped up, looking contemplatively into her own glass. “But I actually know that I haven’t.” She looked up at Kurt and smiled apologetically. “Calvin was actually just someone I knew would be nice to you if nothing else, after that thing with Christopher.”

Kurt smiled at her and waved his hand dismissively. “He succeeded in that, at least. And who could’ve known that Simon would turn out to be such an asshole?”

“What exactly did he do?” Santana asked, signaling the waitress for another drink. “You never said.”

Kurt’s jaw tightened just at the memory. “He was incredibly rude to the bartender of the bar we went to. Apparently they knew each other from before and Simon didn’t approve of his life choices. He practically dissed my dad in the process as well.”

Mercedes and Rachel winced, knowing that talking down on Kurt’s dad was a surefire way to get a dressing down. Santana just laughed. “Good, serves the ass right. I told ‘Manda that you wouldn’t go for him.”

Kurt sighed, putting his chin on his fist. “The thing is: he was totally nice in the beginning until he decided to discredit someone who had to work to put himself through college. I just... it came out of nowhere and he was so... arrogant. He was lucky I didn’t kick him in the nuts.”

Rachel snorted into her drink while Mercedes laughed outright. Santana patted Kurt’s shoulder. “Good for you. I never liked him anyway. Too polished and fake, if you ask me.”

“That he definitely was,” Kurt agreed, toasted Santana and her newly arrived drink and emptied his in one go.

“The thing is,” Amanda said, grimacing slightly. “I actually have the perfect guy for you in mind but I can’t get him to agree to a blind date.”

Kurt flashed briefly to Blaine and that he’d be perfect too if he weren’t straight as an arrow, then dismissed the thought. No sense in dwelling on what could never be.

“His loss,” Mercedes quipped and startled Kurt with her timing, until he realised she was talking about Amanda’s mystery guy who didn’t like blind dates. “He has to be stupid not to want to meet our Kurt. He’s such a ray of sunshine, after all.”

“Oh, bite me,” Kurt shot back but grinned at her. She threw him an air kiss.

“So,” he continued their earlier topic of conversation. “What have you ladies planned for the last round of guys? Because I’ve got to tell you, if none of them work out I’m giving up and will go back to being happily single.”

The girls exchanged glances before they all grinned at him. Kurt knew their answer before they even opened their mouths.

“No way we’re telling you.”

“Where would be the surprise in that?”

“Seriously, Hummel, you’re not even trying to be spontaneous.”

“Okay, okay, I get it,” Kurt interrupted, raising his hands in defeat. “Just please, for the love of Gaga, choose someone I’d actually want to spend an evening with.”

“Yeah yeah,” Mercedes waved his concerns away. “You’ll love the guys we’re going to pick.”

Robert was... not what Kurt had been expecting.

This time around Rachel had picked well when it came to appearances and age. He was three years older than Kurt, almost a head taller, had a deep voice, broad shoulders, trim waist, a shock of black hair and kind brown eyes. When he smiled he flashed a dimple and Kurt was charmed almost from the moment he sat down to chat.

He should’ve known it wouldn’t last, really. They’d barely got the basics out of the way - where they’d grown up, what they were doing job wise right now, where they lived - when Robert grabbed Kurt’s hand, looked deep into his eyes and proclaimed, “You know, I happen to have some psychic abilities.”

Kurt stared, his hand slack in Robert’s grip. “Uhm... that’s... nice?” he said after a lengthy pause. But really, what could you say to something like that?

Robert smiled at him, clearly encouraged. “It’s really quite fascinating,” he continued, not realizing that Kurt tried to get his hand back. “There’s this spirit in my closet. I’ve been trying to get in contact with it for a month now but it’s reluctant to talk to me. It’s probably shy.”

Kurt blinked and continued to stare at him, still not quite sure he wasn’t dreaming this. He’d known that theater folks were strange sometimes but this... this was a whole new level of weird that even Kurt had never encountered before.

“I’ve also tried my hand at being a medium,” Robert said then, looking intensely at Kurt. “And I’ve got the feeling that there’s someone you miss terribly. The spirits are whispering to me, you know?”

“That’s...” Kurt began, then trailed off. He wanted to say ‘crazy’ but really, right now he was still at a loss for words at the bizarreness of it all. “I’d rather not rush into anything,” he finally settled on and Robert gave him this soft, almost creepily understanding look that made Kurt uncomfortable as hell. At least Robert let go of his hand after patting it consolingly. Kurt gave him a weak smile in thanks.

The evening pretty much went south from there.

Robert got into the topic of higher plains of consciousnesses, communicating with the deceased, trying to move objects with his mind and that it wasn’t working quite so well just yet because he hadn’t mastered that level of tranquility you needed for that type of telekinesis, and a whole host of other bullshit as far as Kurt was concerned. Kurt had to admit that he was fascinated in a way, probably more out of morbid curiosity at how far gone a man of Robert’s age could be than real interest in the topic. He did cast a searching glance through the bar at one point and caught Blaine’s eye who threw him a questioning glance and a subtle head nod at Robert. Kurt couldn’t do more than bug his eyes a little, shrug his shoulders and signal with his head that he really had no idea what to do here.

Thankfully, Robert excused himself at one point to go to the bathroom. Kurt took the opportunity to scramble out of his seat and over to the bar where Blaine was already waiting.

“What’s going on?” he greeted Kurt who just shook his head. Casting a furtive glance over his shoulder he leaned over the bar and hissed, “I think that man is one sandwich short of a picnic.”

Blaine bit his lip. “Excuse me?” he choked out, clearly trying to bite down on a laugh. Kurt glared at him.

“He wants to contact my mother for me because he thinks he can talk to the dead!” he whispered furiously. “Oh, and did you know that sex on a higher plain is so much more satisfying than the regular kind?” At Blaine’s incredulous stare Kurt nodded gravely. “Oh yes, I’ve heard all about it. I just can’t decide if it’s entertaining, very sad or horribly creepy. And not to mention extremely insulting to me that Rachel thought I’d appreciate a guy who wants to have psychic sex with me.”

Blaine obviously lost it at that point. Hiding his face in his towel he snorted out a laugh. When he caught Kurt’s incredulous look he shook his head as if to apologize, then dissolved into a full belly laugh. For some reason, Kurt couldn’t really be offended at that. Blaine laughing was a sight to behold, after all, not to mention that it was infectious as hell. Kurt found his mouth twitching before he gave into a small smile while looking at Blaine who tried to get himself back in control.

“I have to admit it sounds rather ridiculous when I retell it,” he said when Blaine let out a long breath. The big smile was still on his face though.

“I assume he’s not a keeper, then?” Blaine asked, probably knowing the answer before Kurt even shook his head.

“I’m not that desperate.”

“Good,” Blaine said, then leaned over the bar, slid his hand over Kurt’s cheek and tipped his head up before pressing his lips to Kurt’s in a soft kiss.

Kurt froze and stopped breathing altogether for a moment before his brain caught up with what was happening. Then he realized that Blaine was kissing him here and that, as chaste as the kiss was, it felt better than anything Kurt had ever felt in his entire life. It was pure instinct that made him raise his hand to slide it up into Blaine’s hair at the back of his head, draw him in closer and open his mouth slightly. Blaine’s breath hitched, just for a second, before his mouth opened as well. They shared a breath or two, neither of them taking it further. Kurt’s grip in Blaine’s hair tightened, anticipating the moment their tongues would touch and how did they even get here?


He jerked back from Blaine as if slapped. For a second he could concentrate on nothing but Blaine’s lips, red and plush and wet and he wanted to lean back in and continue kissing him.

“Sorry, man,” Blaine’s voice said. Kurt could only stare at his mouth, forming the words and fuck, why were they no longer kissing? “It’s just... Kurt and I used to date and when I saw him come in with you I realized that I never should’ve let him go and I... well I guess I got jealous and told him I didn’t want him to date other guys, that I still wanted him and... sorry. I didn’t want to ruin your date.”

It took Kurt a moment to get with the program. When the words Blaine spoke finally made sense to him he frowned, then looked up. Blaine’s gaze was solely focused on someone standing behind Kurt; he appeared sheepish and a little embarrassed. Kurt looked over his shoulder and came face to face with Robert who... looked more intrigued than hurt. It should’ve been a warning, really, but Kurt was still stuck on the fact that Blaine had kissed him and told Robert that they used to... oh. Oh. It had been a ploy to get Kurt out of his date with Robert.

Something in Kurt’s chest froze up at the realization that the kiss had not been real, had just been a means to an end and Kurt had bought it.

So had Robert, apparently. Giving both Kurt and Blaine a smile he leaned against the counter and said, “You know, I wouldn’t be opposed to a threesome-”

“Oh my god, no!” Kurt yelped immediately. Robert reeled back at his adamant answer. Kurt sighed, massaging his temple and trying to stomp down the hurt currently churning in his chest. “I’m sorry that I led you on, truly I am, but... I still have feelings for Blaine too.” Understatement of the century. “It wouldn’t be fair to you, and neither of us is into sharing our partners, so...”

He trailed off there, shrugging slightly. He hoped his gaze signaled his remorse about stomping on Robert’s feelings like that and not for what the look truly meant - that he felt hurt, a bit betrayed, hollowed out really. Then he berated himself quietly. What did he expect? Blaine was straight, after all. He’d offered to help Kurt by any means necessary to get out of unpleasant dates. Granted, this was an unusual way to do it but it had been highly effective.

Robert looked first at Kurt, then Blaine, then back at Kurt before he nodded and smiled, a little sadly. “Well, it was still nice meeting you,” he offered, putting out his hand for Kurt to shake, who did so reluctantly.

“And if you want me to contact anyone from the other plane-”

“You’ll be the first I’m going to call,” Kurt assured him hastily. Honestly, why couldn’t he just leave already?

Robert gave one final head nod to Blaine before going back to their table to grab his jacket. Kurt tracked his way to the door before he felt strong enough to turn back around and face Blaine.

Who looked slightly uncomfortable, avoiding Kurt’s gaze while studiously polishing the wood of the counter top. A weird, decidedly charged silence hovered between them before Blaine bit his lip - he’d tasted those lips, had felt them move under his own - and blurted out, “I’m sorry.”

Kurt’s heart skipped a beat, then thudded painfully when Blaine continued, “I didn’t know what else to do to get rid of him quick and painlessly. I should’ve asked you first if it was okay to kiss you but I didn’t have time.”

“It’s fine,” Kurt replied, his voice almost normal. It probably only sounded this hollow to his own ears. Blaine was still not looking at him, instead scratching the back of his head - he knew now what Blaine’s hair felt like under his fingertips - and looking down the counter to the other end of the bar. He waved vaguely in that direction. “I have to-”

“Go ahead,” Kurt interrupted and tried not to feel hurt when Blaine hurried away. He looked at his back, tried to read him but had no luck. Kurt sighed, gave up after ten minutes and signaled another waiter so he could settle his tab. He left the bar without a backward glance, trying to ignore the heavy feeling in his chest and the painful thudding of his heart. Blaine didn’t want him, just like every guy he’d ever been seriously interested in. Why should Blaine have been the exception? Really, Kurt should grow up and stop putting his hopes into hopeless cases.

His heart, however, was slower on the uptake than his mind and didn’t stop beating painfully the whole way home and throughout the night.

The incident replayed in his head over the next few days. He looked at it from every possible angle but still couldn’t really make sense of it. In the heat of the moment, Blaine’s reasoning had made sense, but in the cold light of day it was an extremely strange choice for a straight male to try and dissuade the advances of an unwanted date by kissing another guy. It just didn’t make a lot of sense. Adding to that the feeling that Blaine had been flirting with him for a while now gave Kurt a weird sense of hope.

He’d have liked to think further on this but he’d made the mistake of telling Rachel that her friend was not the right choice for Kurt, which of course meant she’d told Mercedes who promptly set him up with her last date for him. Kurt tried to refuse because on the one hand, he’d kissed Blaine and Blaine had kissed him and he really wanted to see if that could go anywhere, and on the other hand he was getting tired of dating strangers who almost never suited him. She didn’t want to hear of it though and hung up on him before he could formulate another argument.

Unfortunately, Kurt had never really bothered to find out whether Blaine worked during the week, or he would’ve tried to corner him when Kurt wasn’t on a date. On top of that, his work was absolutely crazy that week and later he couldn’t even tell anymore what had happened between Tuesday morning and Thursday afternoon except that they’d had to make way too many last minute changes to Vincenco’s collection for an upcoming show. Half the models had suddenly been incapacitated three days before the show and their replacements had different measurements and coloring and it was just a complete nightmare. By the time Friday night and Kurt’s date rolled around, he’d almost forgotten that he’d wanted to talk to Blaine beforehand.

Of course, that was not meant to be. He met John in front of the bar and they went inside together. While John was looking for a free table, Kurt tried to find Blaine behind the bar but couldn’t see him. He was probably in the back again. Kurt sighed, then followed John to a table.

Kurt decided pretty early on that John was just not right for him. For one, he had the worst teeth Kurt had ever seen outside of an English movie. It was pretty callous, he had to admit, but leaving that fact aside, John also didn’t seem to be able to sit at a table without accidentally breaking things. It was probably a good thing that he taught English and not something like Chemistry. Those poor students wouldn’t survive the school year with such a clumsy teacher.

It seemed Kurt was in luck as John didn’t seem to be too excited about their date either. He confessed after half an hour or so that Kurt was too feminine for him - Kurt bristled internally, but kept his game face on - and to be honest, he never really wanted to go on the date to begin with, he’d done it as a favor to Mercedes. They parted more or less amicably and John left the bar after one last handshake. Kurt let out a slow, cleansing breath before he looked once again at the bar. This time he spotted Blaine right away, talking to another customer.

Kurt remained seated, contemplating what he should do, if he should confront Blaine about his speculations. In the end he didn’t see how it could hurt, got up and made his way over. Blaine spotted him halfway there and gave him a short smile, just like he always did. Kurt’s resolve wavered a little at that.

“I see you got rid of that one all by yourself,” Blaine greeted Kurt and put his Virgin Strawberry Daiquiri in front of him. Kurt looked down at the drink, his fingertips ghosting over the stem before grabbing the glass and taking a sip.

“He said I was too feminine for him,” Kurt said after a moment, waiting for Blaine’s reaction.

He frowned, looking at Kurt. “Really? You don’t look feminine to me.”

“Good to know,” Kurt mumbled and earned himself a confused glance. Kurt just shook his head and nipped on his drink.

“Well, at least you’re not completely discouraged and continue to date,” Blaine said when Kurt didn’t say anything more. Kurt looked up at him, but he only saw honest relief on Blaine’s face. Surely if he’d been even a little bit interested in Kurt it would show on his face.

“Are you okay?” Blaine’s worried voice cut through his thoughts. “You’re awfully quiet tonight.”

Kurt snorted quietly. When would he finally grow up? Blaine was straight, and whatever Kurt had thought he’d sensed, or thought he’d seen, it had all been in his head. Just wishful thinking, like it had always been when he’d crushed on a straight guy. Blaine was no more interested in him than Finn had been back in high school.

He drained his glass in one gulp and gently put it back down on the counter top. “Just tired,” he replied after a moment. “It’s been one of those weeks.”

Blaine visibly hesitated, then, “I know how those go.”

Kurt smiled tiredly at him, then left a bunch of dollar notes on the counter. “See you next week.”

“See you,” Blaine’s voice drifted after him, his confusion obvious. Kurt didn’t have the strength to explain himself. He was tired, and drained, and right now he just wanted to go home and curl up in his bed, feeling sorry for himself.

Because Kurt was... well, Kurt, his pity party lasted no longer than a day before he shook himself out of his mood. So Blaine had been his usual polite, helpful self after giving him a kiss Kurt would forever measure other kisses against. So what? Blaine might think he was straight, but no straight guy went so pliant after another guy grabbed his head and responded to the kiss in the manner Blaine did, even the really helpful ones who put up a front of being someone’s fake boyfriend. It just didn’t add up in Kurt’s head.

Of course, work that week kicked his ass even more than before, and after the previous week that was saying a lot. He completely forgot that Santana had set him up with a fellow police officer from her precinct for that Friday until the fellow rang him up, trying to confirm their date. He sounded nice, at any rate. Kurt was still preoccupied with his work crisis and Blaine so he agreed to meet up before he could think things through - mainly that he’d rather have pursued this thing with Blaine, if there was even a slight chance he might like Kurt like that.

He only realized that he’d agreed to another, probably excruciating date after he’d hung up, and for a moment he groaned and wallowed in self pity. He was so damn tired of this dating bullshit. He’d rather sit at home for a change instead of dolling up and spend his time with a guy he didn’t know. He allowed himself a few seconds to feel sorry for himself before he put the date out of his mind. He could get rid of the guy easily if he set his mind to it, no problem. Then one of the sewing assistants caught his attention and Kurt forgot all about it.

By Friday Kurt was exhausted and totally not in the mood for a date, but he gritted his teeth and dressed up, keeping in mind that he just had to get this over with and then he could talk to Blaine and maybe get the real date started.

Kurt was still thinking about how to approach Blaine about this while he walked down the street to the bar. He rubbed his temples, trying to stave off the lingering headache that had been his companion since early afternoon. He just hoped he didn’t have to deal with a complete creeper who went on and on. It would be hard enough to feign interest until he could get rid of him.

Someone’s laugh rang out through the night and Kurt looked up. He was still a fair distance away from the bar and a couple was standing at the front doors, hugging. The woman’s back was turned to Kurt and in the darkness he couldn’t really make out her features. He caught a glimpse of blond hair that may or may not be done up in a chignon. The winter coat she was wearing looked expensive. The guy with her didn’t look dressed even remotely appropriate for the cold temperatures.

Kurt squinted at her, trying to remember if he’d seen her before because she seemed oddly familiar. But she never turned around quite enough for him to make out more than the back of her head and part of her cheekbone. The pair separated after a moment and she gave her companion a kiss on the mouth, then let go of him and took a step back until the lights of the bar lit up the guy’s features.

It was Blaine.

Blaine, looking at her, maybe smiling - it was hard to tell in this light - and clearly not minding her attentions. She turned in the opposite direction of Kurt and walked down the street, waving over her shoulder and shouting, “Love you!”

Blaine laughed and shouted back, “Ditto!” before he turned around and went back into the bar. Neither of them had noticed Kurt who stood frozen in the middle of the sidewalk, staring at the now empty space. When another pedestrian jostled his shoulder, he came back to himself and took a stumbling step forward, then derailed and leaned against the brick wall of a nearby building.

Blaine had a girlfriend. Blaine had a girlfriend who was rich and who he obviously loved and Kurt could never compete against a woman. The little hope he’d had all week shattered and died in his chest, leaving him gasping for breath. He would not start crying in the middle of the street over a guy who’d never even told Kurt he might stand a chance. He simply refused to be that tacky.

It took him almost ten minutes to breathe through the pain and compose himself, put his game face on, before he felt strong enough to enter the bar and meet his date.

His date. Oh fuck, how was he supposed to get through that now?

Kurt took one last breath to steel himself before he opened the door to the bar and entered it with his polite mask in place. He scanned the room and stopped at a table with a guy that matched Santana’s description of Gabriel: dark hair, dark eyes, dark complexion. He looked exotic, a little bit nervous but altogether harmless. Kurt could do this. At least he wasn’t hideous.

Kurt put on a polite smile and made his way over to Gabriel, not bothering to check if Blaine was behind the counter. Instead he shrugged off his coat and slid into the seat opposite his date. “Gabriel?” he asked, just to be sure.

The guy looked at Kurt, then nodded and held out his hand, “Kurt?”

Kurt’s smile turned a touch warmer at the smooth, deep voice saying his name. Okay, this wasn’t so bad. He could do this. “Yes. Hi. Sorry I’m late, I got delayed at work.” Technically not true, as his delay had more to do with finding out that Blaine had a girlfriend and Kurt had to cope with all his hopes shattered at his feet but Gabriel didn’t need to know that.

“It’s fine,” Gabriel assured him, then smiled tentatively at him. Oh boy, he really was nervous, wasn’t he?

“Did you have trouble finding the bar?” Kurt asked while signaling a waiter. He placed his usual order then turned his attention back to Gabriel who still seemed to think about his answer, before settling on a shake of his head and a smile. Kurt frowned a bit but put this little incident aside.

Gabriel really was quite attractive. He told Kurt that his parents were Mexican immigrants and that at 25 he was the youngest out of five kids. His two sisters were married with two kids each, his two brothers were also in law enforcement. After a little prodding he admitted that he wasn’t out to his family as they were very religious but that he planned to do so as soon as he had a partner he wanted them to meet.

Gabriel was perfectly polite, a little shy maybe, and seemed very interested in Kurt but it became obvious pretty soon that he wasn’t the brightest crayon in the box. He seemed to have a hard time understanding Kurt’s wittier barbs, but he smiled and laughed anyway. He was nice.

But he wasn’t Blaine.

Kurt had spotted him at one point, working behind the counter serving customers. He’d caught his eye once and only smiled reassuringly to signal the date went well and no interference was needed. Blaine had nodded and went back to work.

The thing was, nobody would ever be Blaine. Kurt had to let this go. And Gabriel was perfectly nice. He shouldn’t judge him by the first date alone. Maybe he was just nervous and it translated in appearing slow. He was probably a normal guy in broad daylight.

The truth was that Kurt needed to make a clean cut here. He would never have Blaine, and punishing himself by having every date in the very bar Blaine was working in would only cut him deeper and hurt him more in the long run than making a clean cut could. It would hurt like hell for a while, as he’d come to think of Blaine as a friend, a confidante and conspirator in Kurt’s apparently useless quest to find Mr. Right. Cutting him out of his life would be hard, but Kurt knew himself well enough to see that it was his only option if he ever wanted to get over this stupid crush that never could be.

So he put his best game face on and gave Gabriel his full attention. Gabriel made him laugh when he started talking about his big family and what a typical gathering looked like. Kurt never really had a big family and was therefore fascinated and horrified in equal measures.

“So, then my sister grabs him by the back of his neck, shakes him and starts yelling at him. And the poor kid didn’t even know what was going on because it was my brother Jesús who’d stolen the cake,” Gabriel said at one point, enthusiastically recounting the incident when his oldest sister had thought her son was to blame for a missing cake that she’d prepared for a bake sale for her daughter’s school. Kurt had to hand it to him: he was definitely a storyteller. His sides ached a little from laughing so hard.

“My brother, of course, is totally terrified of my sister,” Gabriel continued, waving his hands around. “And he tried to keep it secret that he was the one to blame. Of course, my mother is psychic and just knew when she looked at him. She...” He gasped, dissolving into laughter by the memory alone, “... she grabbed his ear and pulled him all the way to my sister’s house, making him apologize in front of her neighbors. Him, an almost thirty year old police officer. He was mortified.”

Kurt almost had tears in his eyes at the end of the tale and both men just sat there, letting the laughter wash over them. Then Gabriel sighed, still grinning, and shook his head. “You see now why I never lie to my mother unless I know for certain that I can get away with it. I’d rather not get dragged through half of New York to apologize to someone.”

“I can’t blame you,” Kurt said, smiling warmly at him. It was obvious by every word that Gabriel loved his family. If nothing else, they had that in common.

In the end Kurt did have a pleasant evening, and when they said goodbye at the end he meant it when he said that he had fun. He may have said it more enthusiastically than he’d actually felt but it wasn’t Gabriel’s fault that he wasn’t who Kurt really wanted.

As soon as Gabriel had left the bar, after giving Kurt a shy little kiss on the cheek, Kurt made his way over to the bar and slid into a stool, waiting for Blaine to finish with another customer before coming over.

“So, how did it go?” Blaine asked as soon as he was at Kurt’s side, already mixing him his Virgin Strawberry Daiquiri. Kurt watched him, admired his hands - so strong, capable and gorgeous - while he mixed the ingredients together.

“You know, I think it went really well,” he said and looked up at Blaine. He had an odd expression on his face but Kurt couldn’t decipher it before he turned to reach for a glass from the shelf.

“You mean he wasn’t weird, crazy or boring?” he asked, back still to Kurt while he arranged the drink. Kurt looked at Blaine’s back and the muscles playing under his white shirt. He gritted his teeth and forced himself to let it go.

“No, he was perfectly fine. I think...” he stopped himself, took a deep breath before he closed his eyes and breathed, “I think he might be it.”

It was eerily silent, except for the usual bar chatter, and Kurt opened his eyes. Blaine was still turned away, doing something to Kurt’s drink, and just when Kurt wanted to ask him if he was alright, Blaine turned, smile in place and handing the drink over. “Really?” he asked, his voice even and honestly curious.

Kurt nodded and looked down at his drink. “I never thought I’d actually meet anyone at this point but I think he’d be good for me.”

He looked up at Blaine and was met with a smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes. “I’m glad,” he finally said, smile warming up when he met Kurt’s gaze. “You deserve it.”

“Thank you,” Kurt replied, as evenly as he could, before taking a sip from his drink. “Our second date will probably be in a restaurant. That’ll be a change.” He smiled at Blaine, feeling as if it was the most fake smile he’d ever given anyone, but it was either in his head or Blaine didn’t notice.

“That’s probably not such a bad idea,” he said, nodding, and cleaned the working space behind the counter. “Definitely more romantic than here, I suppose.”

“True,” Kurt replied. Every word felt like it was cutting him, making him bleed all over the counter for all the world and Blaine to see except that everyone had turned a blind eye on his pain. He took a deep breath. “Thank you for all your help,” he said at last, looking back up at Blaine.

Blaine shook his head. “For what? I didn’t do anything.”

“You were there,” Kurt said quietly. “Believe me, knowing that someone had my back was... you’ll probably never know how much that meant to me. So, thank you for that.”

“Anytime,” Blaine replied, equally quiet with a small smile curling up his lips. He was back to staring at the counter top. The spell was broken when someone a few seats down the line shouted for Blaine. He looked over, then back at Kurt. “I have to...” he said, waving to the guy. Kurt nodded, raising his own drink.

“See you around,” Blaine said, staring at Kurt until he nodded again before turning and walking away.

Kurt was pretty sure they both knew that had been a lie.

Kurt rarely indulged in self pity, and if he did he never did so longer than a day. However, cutting himself off from Blaine was harder than he’d thought it’d be, considering he didn’t even really know the guy all that well. He’d just been a pretty face behind a bar who’d been kind to Kurt when he needed someone. It was kind of sad and said a lot about his life that a little kindness from a stranger meant so much to Kurt that he fell apart a little bit at the prospect of never seeing him again.

His girls knew that something was wrong, but he didn’t tell them his sorry story about how he’d fallen for the straight guy yet again. Instead he assured them he was fine, just tired from work and oh, did they hear that he would have a second date with Gabriel and wasn’t that great?

They left him alone after that.

Kurt did put a stop to his pity party after a weekend spent in his oldest, most threadbare clothes watching one Gene Kelly movie after another and eating more ice cream than his waistline could really afford. On Monday he threw himself into his work which, of course, had calmed down considerably all of a sudden and wasn’t really much of a distraction at all. But the heartache obviously helped Kurt to be creative, so that was at least something.

He made good on his promise and gave Gabriel another chance. Their second date was in a small little Italian restaurant in SoHo a week after their first one. Gabriel was still very handsome, very polite and very much uneducated. Kurt wasn’t sure if he was just lazy about his education or if he was just simple. Fact was that, no matter how much Kurt wanted to get over this thing he had for Blaine, he couldn’t do it with Gabriel. He would go crazy within a week if he had to date him for real. Kurt needed someone who challenged him intellectually, who got his wittier, more sarcastic comments on whatever he’d heard on the news that day. Beauty only got you so far and as attractive as Gabriel was, he wasn’t right for Kurt at all.

Gabriel was, to Kurt’s surprise, quite crushed when he told him they weren’t right for each other. When he asked Kurt to give him another chance, he told him part of the truth and admitted that he was still hung up on this other guy and it wouldn’t be fair to Gabriel if he strung him along. Kurt couldn’t very well tell him that even Finn was faster on the uptake than Gabriel. That wasn’t polite, and Kurt didn’t have it in him to cut the guy down. It wasn’t his fault, after all, that he wasn’t Blaine.

The news that Gabriel didn’t make it past the second date hit his girls hard and they decided that an emergency meeting at Kurt’s apartment was in order, which was spent with too many chick flicks, too much pizza and definitely too much tequila. In hindsight, Kurt should have known that they would get out the hard stuff, as it ailed any and all heartbreak. Okay, the booze was definitely Santana’s contribution, and the chick flicks were probably Rachel and Mercedes’ idea. The pizza, he admitted, had been a group decision, because as much as Kurt liked to stay in shape, sometimes even he needed comfort food.

After the first few shots of Tequila, Kurt became woozy and started to feel a little sorry for himself. Even though he very rarely drank hard alcohol ever since high school, he did have his weak moments, especially when his girls were involved. And he trusted them to catch him if he fell. After his dad, they were the very few people he trusted almost implicitly. Blaine could’ve become someone like that to him, but his stupid crush had destroyed that quite thoroughly.

“I just don’t get it,” Santana said an indefinite time later when they all had consumed way more alcohol than was probably wise. “You said you liked him. He liked you too. What went wrong?”

“He was simple,” Kurt slurred, trying to focus on the TV but having trouble getting to match the two pictures up into one. He was pretty sure there should only be one.

“So basically you are where you’ve been three months ago,” Mercedes added, throwing back another shot and grimacing. “Single, lonely, and in desperate need of getting laid.”

“Shut up,” Kurt mumbled and buried his face in his arms. Maybe the world would stop spinning if he pretended it wasn’t there.

A hand landed on his back, then Rachel’s voice said above him, “Kurt’s had his reasons to reject them. They might not be reasons we understand, but we don’t have to live with the guys.”

“Exactly!” Kurt said, raising his finger to make his point but not emerging from his arms to face them.

“So what you’re saying is that you’ll celebrate another lonely Christmas,” Santana cut in, her voice like a bucket of icy water. Kurt raised his head and glared at her.

“Thank you for reminding me that Christmas is imminent,” he bit out. “As if I wasn’t depressed enough already.”

“Hush, you two,” Amanda said, pulling Santana into a loose embrace and smiling at Kurt. “You’ll only ever be as lonely as you make yourself. You have friends and family who love you, Kurt. You’ll never be alone, okay?”

Kurt couldn’t help himself, and the alcohol in his system didn’t make it any easier to fight back the tears. The smile he gave her was wobbly but he meant it nonetheless.

“She’s right, boo,” Mercedes added, putting her head on Kurt’s shoulder. “It sucks that you don’t have a boyfriend but you’ll always have us.”

“Definitely,” Rachel put in her two cents and put her head on his other shoulder. Kurt’s head fell back onto the back of the couch and he closed his eyes while he slung one arm around each girl.

“Thank you, guys.”

They watched the TV for a while after that, comfortable silence cloaking them. Kurt was on the verge of sleep when Rachel piped up, “Will you go on your last date, at least?”

Kurt’s eyes popped open and he stared at the ceiling. He wasn’t sure if he even wanted to go out with yet another guy who had lost before he even met him. He looked over at Amanda who smiled at him, signaling him that she wouldn’t mind if he declined. It was that smile that convinced him to give it one more shot.

“Sure, why not? Let’s make the crappy dozen complete at least.” He winced when Mercedes slapped his thigh and glared at her. She glared right back. “No dissing the other guys.”

Kurt rolled his eyes. “Whatever.”

Rachel ignored them both and turned to Amanda. “Your guy has to be really special so we can prove Kurt wrong.”

Amanda looked a little worried but also contemplative. She rubbed her eyebrow, bit her lip and then nodded. “I’ll see what I can do.”

For over a week, Kurt didn’t hear anything from Amanda whatsoever. She’d probably taken Rachel’s demand a little too much to heart and couldn’t find a guy Kurt might like, especially after the disastrous Simon date and Kurt’s proclamation that he was probably not very well suited for lawyers - which pretty much decimated Amanda’s circle of acquaintances by at least 80 percent. He would’ve told her to just let it be if he hadn’t sort of promised his girls he would go on this last of his twelve dates. He was just glad when it was all over and he could go back to being single and miserable instead of dating and being even more miserable.

He was in the middle of doodling a new design for a men’s wear collection he’d been toying with for several months now in his free time when his phone rang, pulling him back to the present. He looked down at his display, then answered hesitantly when he saw it was Amanda.

“Hello, gorgeous,” he greeted her, already knowing what this was about.

“So, this is sort of unusual,” she greeted him - which, in itself, was already unusual as she was usually the politest person Kurt knew and was all for proper phone etiquette.

“Okay?” he replied, more a confused question than a real demand for her to go on.

He heard her take a deep breath, probably mentally preparing herself - for what, Kurt couldn’t even begin to guess - and then said, “So, I finally got one of my best friends to agree to go on a date with you. The only two conditions are that it be in a place of his choosing and that it’ll be tonight.”

Kurt frowned, looking down at his doodle. It was Saturday and Kurt didn’t really have anything planned, so it wasn’t like he had to cancel anything here. He wasn’t sure he liked the attitude though.

“This is kind of sudden,” he hedged and didn’t expect Amanda to laugh at that.

“You could say that. He’s... kind of shy but a real sweetheart, I swear. I’ve known him since I was 13, he was originally one of my brother’s classmates. I wanted to set the two of you up since the beginning but he didn’t want to. He’s been through kind of a lot in the past and I just want him to be happy and I think you could be that guy to make him happy and-”

“Amanda,” Kurt interrupted her. When she fell silent, he added gently, “You’re rambling.”

“I am, aren’t I?” she agreed, then laughed quietly. Kurt couldn’t help but smile. “I just... he means a lot to me, and so do you. I think you’ll get on well, is all.”

“Okay,” Kurt said before he could change his mind. If Amanda was so hung up on setting him up with this friend of hers then he could do her the favor. “So where does he want to meet?”

She let out a breath, probably in relief that he’d agreed without a fight, then told him the address to a small-scale restaurant he knew through Rachel’s crowd. It was favored by theater folks because it was good food for affordable prices. It was also pretty close to Kurt’s place.

“Be there at seven tonight, okay?” Amanda said.

“Okay, okay. I’ll be there,” he promised her.

“Perfect. Good luck.” Then she hung up. Kurt stared at his phone in disbelief, then put it down while shaking his head.

It took him half an hour before he realized he never asked her for the guy’s name.

For all that Kurt was usually of the mind that dressing up was the best way to leave a first impression, he dressed rather casually for his date. Well, casually for him at any rate. It was just that he was tired of it, after dating constantly for almost 14 weeks in a row and he wanted to feel comfortable, not putting up too much of a fuss. And really, if the guy expected Alexander McQueen it was his loss.

Kurt arrived at the restaurant with a few minutes to spare. He wasn’t sure if they were supposed to meet outside or not, but it was freezing so to hell with it, he would wait inside. He looked around when he entered the foyer. There wasn’t really a Maitre d’ he could ask if there was a reservation, and at any rate Kurt wouldn’t have been able to tell them a name anyway, seeing as he had no clue and he hadn’t been able to reach Amanda after realizing that. His casual glance over the restaurant patrons didn’t give him the impression of a guy waiting for someone either, so maybe he wasn’t here yet.

He was on the verge of turning around and leaning against the wall near the door to wait for his date when he caught a glimpse of someone familiar. He turned back and almost swallowed his tongue when he saw Blaine sitting alone at a table playing with the silverware, clearly nervous and waiting for someone.

Kurt froze, not sure what to do. Should he walk over and greet him? He was probably waiting for his girlfriend. Maybe she was in the bathroom, or she was late. Kurt should just turn around right now, leave the restaurant and wait for his date outside. It wasn’t worth the heartache, but fuck it! Seeing Blaine again was like being able to breathe properly for the first time in two weeks.

In the end the decision was made for him when Blaine looked up and met Kurt’s gaze. He froze as well, taking Kurt in. Then a slow smile bloomed on his face and nothing on this earth could’ve prevented Kurt from walking over there at that moment. He caught himself smiling back and tried to bite down on it while he made his way to Blaine’s table, but gave it up as a lost cause pretty fast.

When he arrived there, Blaine’s smile had taken on a decidedly nervous edge. Kurt tried to ignore it and put on his best game face. “Fancy meeting you here,” he joked, grabbing the back of the empty chair opposite Blaine’s. Blaine huffed a laugh.

“Yeah it’s...” He paused, taking Kurt in once again before he said quietly, “It’s really good to see you.”

Kurt had no idea what to do with that, either the words or the tone of voice. He looked over his shoulder, then back to Blaine. “Actually, I’m on a date.”

“I know.”

It took Kurt a moment to catch up with the soft words. He furrowed his brows. “Excuse me?”

Blaine took a deep breath, closed his eyes, then let the breath out slowly before he met Kurt’s gaze again, sure and frightened all at the same time. “I’m your date, Kurt.”

The world stopped at that moment for Kurt. He stared at Blaine, who looked so earnest and scared and hopeful all at the same time. Kurt must’ve misheard. He couldn’t have... he just couldn’t have heard what he’d just heard. Could he?

“What?” he asked, disbelief coloring his voice.

Blaine never stopped looking at him. “I’m your date, Kurt. I... Amanda has been one of my best friends since I was ten and she wanted to set me up with you since forever. But I always declined because at first I wasn’t into dating some guy I never met and then I was sort of hung up on you so I definitely didn’t want to date a guy I’ve never met. And I didn’t know it had been you she wanted to set me up with all along otherwise I would’ve said yes the second time she asked me and...”

He trailed off at Kurt’s ongoing silence. Sometime during Blaine’s monologue, Kurt had lost the ability to stand and had sunk into the seat in front of him, still staring at Blaine as if he’d never seen him before in his entire life. When he suddenly fell silent and looked at Kurt expectantly, Kurt said the first thing that came to his mind.

“I thought you were straight.”

Blaine blinked, looked around as if he expected someone else to turn up that Kurt might be talking to, but when nobody came forward he turned back to Kurt. “I’m sorry?” he asked, clearly confused.

Kurt felt like an idiot. All the flirting, Blaine’s readiness to help out a gay man with his blind dates, the kiss. How had he ever believed Blaine straight? In hindsight it was the most ridiculous thing in the history of ever. Kurt couldn’t help it: he put his hand over his eyes and laughed, at first quietly but pretty soon dissolving into helpless giggles.

“Kurt?” Blaine asked, now obviously worried on top of being confused.

“I thought you were straight,” Kurt said again, throwing his head back to look at the ceiling and trying to prevent the tears forming in his eyes from falling. “This whole time, I thought you were straight. I thought you had a girlfriend!”

“I... what?” Blaine fell silent then and Kurt finally had the nerve to look him in the face again. What he saw made his heart skip a beat. Blaine was clearly still confused, but there was hope, so much hope in his eyes now that it took Kurt’s breath away.

“I saw you with a girl, outside the bar. Right before my last date there,” Kurt said, then shrugged. “She kissed you on the mouth. I thought she was your girlfriend.”

Some of the confusion cleared from Blaine’s face and he bit his lip. “That... was Amanda, actually. That you saw me with. She’s been doing that since forever. Ever since I told her that I thought kissing girls was gross.”

Well. That certainly explained why she’d seemed so familiar. Kurt wanted to bang his head against a wall. Repeatedly.

“So you’ve never been straight,” Kurt stated, not even making it a question at this point.

Blaine’s mouth twitched, then he shook his head. “Never had a girlfriend either,” he added. “I’ve been out since I was 14.”

Kurt stared at him, then buried his face in his hands. “I feel like an idiot,” he admitted. Fuck, he wanted to hide somewhere and bang his head against a hard surface for his stupidity. He should’ve trusted his instincts. He could’ve had Blaine weeks ago.

Holy shit. He could have Blaine now. He could have him now! Kurt felt dizzy all of a sudden.

“Hey. Breathe,” Blaine ordered gently before his hand closed over Kurt’s wrist and pushed his hand down. He was smiling at Kurt when their eyes met. Kurt couldn’t help it: he smiled back, at first reluctantly and then wider when Blaine’s own smile lit up his whole face.

“So are we doing this, then?” Blaine asked after a while, his hand still encircling Kurt’s wrist. Kurt rotated his hand until he could clasp Blaine’s hand in his. Looking down at their entwined fingers, he nodded. “I think we are.”

Blaine’s smile could’ve lit up the whole restaurant. He signaled a waiter and turned back to Kurt. “Virgin Strawberry Daiquiri for you?”

Kurt looked at Blaine, then down at their hands, before looking back up at Blaine again and squeezing his hand in the process. “You know what? I think I’ll have a glass of wine tonight.”

All through dinner, their hands never stopped touching, and while the hour grew later, the two of them grew closer with each passing word and every told secret. They only realized how late it was when a waiter politely informed them that the restaurant was about to close. They laughed at themselves, a little embarrassed that they’d totally lost sense of time, then paid and left, Blaine helping Kurt into his coat and then holding the door for him.

By mutual and silent agreement, they walked into the direction of Kurt’s apartment, their hands brushing against each other while they walked and talked about Blaine’s plans for the future.

“I really hated being in pre-law,” Blaine admitted, looking sheepish. “I never really wanted to study it in the first place, but my dad wanted me to get into his law firm and I wanted to make him happy at first. Amanda was already studying it when I got here, and she’s always been so much better at it than I was. She saw how unhappy it made me so when I finally confessed that all I really wanted to do was teach kids about Music, she encouraged me to drop pre-law and change majors. So I did. Can’t say that I regret it, really. I love what I do now.”

Kurt looked at him from the side, catching Blaine’s eye when he looked over. Reaching for his hand, Kurt said quietly, “I think you’ll be an amazing teacher, Blaine.”

Blaine looked stunned for a moment before the by now familiar smile blossomed on his face and he squeezed Kurt’s hand before pulling him along down the street. Their hands stayed entwined until they came to a halt in front of Kurt’s apartment complex.

Blaine looked up at it, curious, then back down at Kurt and smiled at him, ducking his head. “So...” he said and trailed off.

Kurt laughed at how shy Blaine suddenly was. “I had a really nice evening,” he said after a moment of silence. Blaine looked up at him, his smile small and shy but pleased nonetheless.

“Me too,” he admitted, squeezing Kurt’s hand that was still clasped in his.

Kurt bit his lip, looking down at their hands, before he took a deep breath and steeled himself. “Can I ask you something?”

“Anything,” Blaine said instantly.

Kurt hesitated, not daring to look at Blaine before he continued, “That kiss... when you wanted to get rid of my date?” He looked at Blaine who seemed a bit uncomfortable all of a sudden. “Was that just a ploy?”

Blaine’s gaze flickered down to Kurt’s mouth briefly. “I’ve been looking for an excuse to kiss since you first set foot into the bar,” Blaine confessed, his voice deep and throaty. Kurt’s breath caught in his chest at the words. “I wanted to kiss you, and I’m sorry I was such an ass afterwards.”

“Well then...” Kurt started before letting the hand not currently clasped in Blaine’s slide over Blaine’s hip to grasp it gently. “You should definitely make it up to me,” he ended, looking up at Blaine through his eyelashes.

He felt Blaine catch his breath while he stared at Kurt, then at his lips, before licking his own. “I think I can do that,” he whispered before letting his own hand slide up and around Kurt’s neck to the back of his head. He tugged gently and rose up to meet Kurt’s lips in a soft kiss.

At first it was as gentle as the first time they’d done this. Then Blaine’s hand tightened in Kurt’s hair and he opened his mouth, his breath fanning hot over Kurt’s lips. He opened them out of reflex and it was all the encouragement Blaine needed. He pressed his body tight against Kurt’s, slung his arm around his waist and pressed his tongue between Kurt’s lips. He groaned and met it enthusiastically, pressing Blaine back until he collided with the brick wall. Now it was Blaine’s turn to groan, the sound swallowed by Kurt’s mouth. His hands were both buried in Blaine’s thick, unruly hair and he pushed Blaine’s head back oh so gently, changing the angle of the kiss which had turned into a slick slide of lips against lips and tongues entwining hungrily.

They parted eventually when breathing became difficult. Kurt’s breath came out in a white cloud between them, making Kurt aware again of how cold it actually was. Blaine was still leaning against the wall, his head tipped back and his eyes closed while his mouth was open, his lips swollen and well kissed. Kurt wanted to lean in again and start all over.

“Come upstairs with me,” Kurt said roughly, praying that Blaine wanted this as much as Kurt did. His eyes fluttered open and he stared at Kurt. The hazel of his eyes was almost completely gone and a surge of lust so intense swept through Kurt’s body that he swayed and almost fell against Blaine.

“Okay,” Blaine agreed after only a second’s thought. Kurt couldn’t help the silly grin exploding on his face, but he didn’t mind for Blaine’s answering smile was equally as silly.

They made it up and into Kurt’s apartment in record time. As soon as the door closed behind them, Kurt couldn’t stop touching Blaine, wanting to peel him out of his clothes so he could finally see what he’d been fantasizing about for all these weeks when he’d watched Blaine in his work uniform. Blaine seemed to be of an equal mind for he attacked the buttons on Kurt’s shirt as soon as Kurt had gotten rid of his coat.

They stumbled down the hallway to Kurt’s bedroom, panting into each other’s mouths and giggling uncontrollably while trying to get rid of their clothes and failing miserably. Later he wouldn’t be able to say how they managed to get there without killing themselves by stumbling over furniture. When they entered the bedroom, Kurt had already lost his shirt and Blaine’s was hanging open, only clinging to his shoulders. They stopped for a moment to look, breathing hard and looking at each other with hunger and desperation. Blaine shrugged his shoulder and let his shirt fall to the floor. Then he reached for Kurt’s pants.

“Can I?” he asked, breathless and turned on. Kurt groaned.

“Yes,” he breathed and groaned again when Blaine’s hand closed around his trapped erection before reaching for the button and slowly opening his pants. Without any further warning, he slid his hand into Kurt’s underwear and closed it around his dick.

Kurt stumbled and Blaine’s arm shot up, sliding around his waist and holding him in place. Kurt’s hands slid over Blaine’s naked back, trying to find purchase or something to cling to while Blaine’s hand stroked him slowly. He groaned again, breathing heavily against Blaine’s neck, then grabbed the back of his neck and thrust forward. It was Blaine’s turn to groan now and he trailed careful kisses down Kurt’s neck and to his collarbone.

“I have to see you,” Blaine breathed and withdrew his hand. Kurt whined in protest but shut up when Blaine grabbed the hem of Kurt’s pants, shoved his hands down the back of them and peeled them over Kurt’s hip, taking his underwear with them as well. He knelt down to get the pants off all the way and Kurt readily stepped out of them. As soon as Blaine had flung them aside, he looked up at Kurt from his kneeling position, mouth slightly open.

“You’re beautiful,” he said, almost worshipful. Kurt could feel himself flush - in embarrassment or lust, he wasn’t quite sure, but what he knew was that he’d never been with anyone like Blaine before.

“So are you,” he rasped and couldn’t help but smile when Blaine ducked his head slightly. It brought him level with Kurt’s dick, and he only hesitated a moment before he raised his hand, grabbed the base and guided the head between his lips. As soon as the warm, wet heat engulfed him, Kurt lost his capacity to breathe for a second. His hand found its way into Blaine’s hair and he moaned when his mouth slid further down, taking him in deeper, starting to suck. He was thrusting slightly into Blaine’s mouth and a surge of lust shot through him when Blaine’s moan vibrated through his dick all the way through his body.

Suddenly a thought popped into his head and his eyes snapped open.

“Shit,” he cursed and bit back a groan when Blaine let go of him instantly.

“What’s wrong?” he asked, looking worried. Kurt had to bite back a laugh at the sight: Blaine kneeling in front of him, his own erection straining against his pants while Kurt’s dick almost poked him in the eye.

“I don’t have any condoms,” Kurt admitted. “I... I wasn’t in need of them during the last few months and I usually don’t do this on the first date and what was I thinking-”

“Shh,” Blaine interrupted him, pushing to his feet and putting his hands on Kurt’s cheeks, forcing him to look at him. “It’s okay, Kurt. Hey, it’s okay. We can do something else. It’s okay.”

“I’m sorry,” Kurt repeated, looking miserably at Blaine who just smiled.

“Nothing to be sorry for,” he assured and kissed Kurt slowly, never taking his hands away. Kurt had never felt more secure during sex than he did at that moment. He slung his arms around Blaine and deepened the kiss, forcing his hand down the back of Blaine’s pants and bathing in the groan that elicited. He took a step back, then another, until he felt his bed at the back of his knees. He let go of Blaine and sat down on the mattress.

“Lose the pants,” he ordered, throatily. Blaine swallowed visibly and complied readily, shoving the pants and underwear down. Kurt couldn’t help but stare at him in his naked glory. He was even more beautiful than Kurt had anticipated. He wasn’t overly muscly but well defined with a toned stomach, smooth skin and a smattering of dark chest hair. And his dick! It was so beautiful, curving up towards Blaine’s stomach and seeming to beg for Kurt’s attention. Slowly he raised his hand and let his fingertips ghost over Blaine’s stomach to his side, down to his hip and then gently carded it through wiry dark hair until he closed his hand around Blaine’s dick.

He was hot to the touch and silky smooth. Kurt’s mouth watered at the sheer idea of putting his lips around the thick length. But not tonight. They had time now. Tonight they could just get to know each other, there was always time for more later.

“Come here,” he whispered and held his hand out for Blaine. He grasped it without hesitation and Kurt moved up the bed, urging Blaine to follow him. When Kurt’s head hit the pillows, Blaine slowly lowered himself slightly to the left of him, sliding a thigh between Kurt’s legs. As soon as it got into contact with his dick, Kurt groaned and thrust upwards without a conscious decision. Blaine answered him with a thrust of his own, burying his face against Kurt’s neck.

His hand came up again to slide into Blaine’s hair, pressing his face closer against Kurt’s heated skin, while his other hand wandered down to Blaine’s ass and pressed him down. His skin prickled where their bodies met, and Kurt breathed in the scent of Blaine’s hair when he turned his head to press a kiss against his temple. Blaine made a tiny noise against Kurt’s neck and shifted a little before he settled fully on top of Kurt, putting his forearm on the mattress to rise up a bit before thrusting down again, sliding their dicks against each other.

Kurt groaned and his hands grabbed Blaine tightly while his heart beat frantically in his chest. He briefly thought about finding the lube in his bedside drawer but then Blaine raised his head and looked at him. Heat curled low in Kurt’s stomach when he saw how far gone Blaine really was, his pupils blown and his cheeks red. Then, slowly and without stopping to look at Kurt, he raised his hand and licked it before he shoved it between their bodies and grabbed Kurt’s dick firmly.

His leg came up of its own volition at that point, encircling Blaine’s hip and drawing him closer, making it easier to thrust into Blaine’s hand. He lost track of everything except Blaine’s hot, slightly calloused hand after that point, thrusting against him and grabbing his hair while kissing him heatedly, almost frantically. It had been a while for Kurt so it didn’t take him very long to reach his orgasm. Still, it caught him completely by surprise when he spilled hot and warm between them and over Blaine’s hand. He closed his eyes tightly and threw his head back into the pillow, groaning when Blaine rained kisses down his exposed throat.

He was catching his breath when he noticed that Blaine was still hard. Without missing a beat, Kurt slung his other leg around Blaine’s hip as well and thrust upwards, shoving Blaine’s dick against Kurt’s stomach. Blaine answered with a downwards thrust and a deep groan.

“That’s it,” Kurt encouraged him. “Come on. I want you to.”

Blaine groaned again and his thrusts turned frantic, completely losing any form of rhythm. Kurt kissed his neck, then slid his finger down Blaine’s crease and pressed the tip against his hole. Blaine threw his head back in a loud shout and came wet between them.

It took them a while for their breathing to even out again. At one point Blaine slid off of Kurt and looked around for something before he grabbed for the tissue box sitting on Kurt’s bedside table. He took out a few tissues to mop up the worst of the mess on Kurt’s stomach. Kurt should probably go clean himself properly but he couldn’t be bothered to get up right now. Instead he curled up around Blaine when he laid back down. Blaine’s arms encircled him immediately without question. By some sort of silent agreement they’d decided that Blaine would stay.

They drifted in and out of sleep throughout the night, lazily groping each other whenever both of them were conscious enough for it. They would probably be groggy as hell come morning but Kurt had missed sleeping next to someone else and he relished every minute he could listen to Blaine’s even breathing.

When the sun finally came through the blinds of Kurt’s bedroom window, he gave up the pretense of sleep and peppered lazy kissed over Blaine’s chest. The hand curled around Kurt’s waist tightened briefly, then moved to Kurt’s back and drew small circles on his skin.

“I never believed in love at first sight,” Blaine said into the silence. Kurt froze up, not sure where this was heading, but Blaine’s fingers moved in slow patterns over Kurt’s skin so he assumed it wasn’t bad.

“I still don’t, not really,” Blaine continued after a moment. “But sometimes there’s this moment in time... Kurt, sometimes there’s just this moment where you look at a person and your heart suddenly expands and you say to yourself, ‘Oh, there you are... I’ve been looking for you forever.’”

Kurt’s heart was beating rapidly at that point and he raised his head, meeting Blaine’s clear gaze. He didn’t look hesitant, or even scared. Instead he caressed Kurt’s cheek with his thumb and leaned in for a close-mouthed, chaste kiss.

When they parted, Kurt stared at him, his heart beating rapidly in his chest. He wanted to laugh and cry at the same time. Nobody had ever said something this beautiful to him. He didn’t know what to say in return, so instead he leaned back in and kissed Blaine again; softly, lips moving carefully over Blaine’s until he opened up. This kiss was different, not quite as fueled and lust driven as the ones they’d shared during the night. No, this kiss was something new; it was a promise.

They smiled at each other when they parted. Kurt’s finger ghosted down Blaine’s cheek, then over his nose down to his mouth. He laughed when Blaine kissed the tip, then bit playfully at it.

“So, what do you think about breakfast in bed?” Blaine asked after they’d cuddled up and fell silent again. Kurt thought about it, about how he had this future with Blaine to look forward to now, and made a decision.

“Actually,” he said, raising his head and giving Blaine a smile. “I’d like you to meet my girls.”