It's Blaine. In their office. Checking the last of his grad school acceptances, and Kurt says nothing, waiting instead with perfect posture at their kitchen table, wringing his fingers together as he's expected to do until Blaine can bear to tell him what's going on.
Eventually Blaine comes out of the office and shoves his hands through his hair; he's agitated, tense and clearly ashamed. “I got a yes,” he says. “It's not New York.”
Kurt lets out a long shaky breath. It's not what he's wanted, but completely what he expected.
“So where are we going?” he asks, trying to be light.
“How do you feel about DC?”
Kurt tilts his head from side to side, considering. “Can we visit before I tell you?” he asks coyly.
Blaine looks at him with a bit of surprise and a lot of gratitude. Kurt beams.
“I go where you go,” he says breezily, even if it's a strain.
“Kurt, I don't --”
He shushes him as he gets up from his chair. “I'm proud of you,” he says, grabbing Blaine's shoulders. “Now tell me about the offer.”
That night, to bed, Blaine wears more clothes than he usually sleeps in, and they lay awake and silent for a long time.
“I'm afraid you're going to be unhappy.”
Then why are you even taking this offer? Kurt thinks viciously, but instead all he says is, “I am too,” he says, “but I think I can make it work.”
“There's a bus to New York that leaves at two thirty in the morning, every day. If there's an audition I want to go to, I'll go. And I'm a terrible dancer --”
“I am, and I need to fix that, so I can go to classes and keep taking voice lessons it'll be like grad school for me too. Just... self-directed. And it's not like there aren't theaters in DC.”
“That's a lot of planning for the last two hours.”
“Try the last two months.”
“I don't understand.”
“You don't grow up Kurt Hummel without having a plan B,” he says with a laugh.
“That makes me scared sometimes.”
“I'll miss it here,” Blaine says as he strokes his thumb over Kurt's wrist.
“I've loved this place,” Kurt says with a sigh, eyes darting around their shadowed bedroom. He twists onto his side. “Accept the offer, Blaine. But this time we're going apartment hunting together.”
Blaine lays a palm to Kurt's cheek and kisses him, heavy and chaste.
They're not sure what to expect when Blaine phones his parents with the news, but they know enough to make the call from their couch, Kurt holding Blaine's hand and ready to fight. Blaine's father likes that, and Blaine often can't muster the will to do it himself.
But it's Blaine's mother who answers the phone; Kurt can tell because of the way his boyfriend's voice goes soft. As much as he sometimes despises this woman for the bargains she makes, Blaine's quiet and intense affection for her is one of the things that makes it easier for Kurt to be in love with him.
Kurt knows Mrs. Anderson has gone to fetch Mr. Anderson when Blaine squeezes his hand, and he thinks maybe it's going to be okay when Blaine laughs genuinely at something his father says after he's told him the news. But then Blaine frowns, and it quickly becomes apparent that they're delving into the matter of the apartment and finances.
“Do you want me to...?” Kurt says softly, gesturing at the bedroom.
Blaine shakes his head. “No, this affects you too.”
“I hate the thought of anyone else living here,” Kurt says that night before bed, even as he's already thinking about “for rent” notices and apartment showings and managing the property because Blaine's father is sort of ridiculous and uptight and generous and weirdly respectful of Kurt all at once.
Blaine's unsure of what to say, and so just watches Kurt as he sits at his vanity moisturizing and examining the corners of his eyes for fine lines.
“I mean,” Kurt continues, meeting Blaine's eyes in the mirror, “I'm grateful for your dad's plan. Relieved, even. But --”
“We fell in love here,” Blaine finishes for him.
It's exactly what Kurt's thinking, but for a long moment he doesn't nod or agree or acknowledge Blaine in any way. He just continues to stare at himself in the mirror.
“We still are,” he says to his own reflection eventually.
“In love?” Blaine asks with a chuckle.
“New rule,” Kurt says sleepily when Blaine crawls into bed beside him as their clock ticks over to 4:04am.
“Mmmmm?” Blaine asks, obviously tired but far too handsy for Kurt to think he's actually interested in sleep yet.
“No more apartment websites until after graduation.”
“No. Seriously, Blaine,” Kurt says, becoming wakeful because Blaine isn't sorry enough.
“I just --”
“Yes, you're excited,” Kurt says. He sits up in frustration as Blaine tries to latch onto to him like some sort of squid. “I'm even excited. But we have to actually graduate first, and you not coming to bed until 4am because you were procrastinating on Craigslist? Not helping.”
“Shit, Kurt, I –”
“It's not making me love you less,” he says, settling down again into Blaine's arms, “but I need you to stop.”
“Sorry. It's just –”
“I know, Blaine, I know. But it's three more years now 'til I can do the only thing I'm meant for other than being with you. So I need you to be grateful. Just a little. Just until I get used to it. Can't you do that?”
It turns out Blaine can do that. Kurt is always amazed with how completely he steps up once he's been bludgeoned with just a little bit of sense.
Three weeks before graduation, Blaine surprises him by picking him up in the car after a late rehearsal and apologizes for the slight detour they have to take to grab the sushi order he's already called in for dinner.
“Aren't you supposed to be writing a paper or something?” Kurt asks.
“I needed food; you didn't need to waste an hour on the T, and oh, by the way, I've missed you.”
Kurt beams. “So do you want to risk our futures by going to a movie with me this weekend?” he asks flirtatiously.
Blaine laughs. “Oh god. More than anything.”
At the movies they flip up the armrest between their seats and Blaine curls around Kurt, absently kissing the back of his neck through the entire film. It's not quite like being teenagers with nowhere to go, but it's close and definitely strange because that's not something they ever really were.
“I feel like I should blow you in the car after this,” Blaine whispers in his ear during a particularly violent explosion.
Kurt elbows him and laughs. “We have a home, you know.”
“We also didn't drive.”
“Have you read any of this?” Kurt asks, fanning himself with the folder containing the information on Blaine's graduation ceremony.
“Not yet. Why?”
“Because there's a problem!” Kurt says, thrusting the folder at him. “Start reading. I'm timing you.”
Blaine gives Kurt a wary look before sinking down on their couch and going through the materials.
“Ninety dollars for the rental of something polyester and poorly fitted?” he asks after a while.
“Well, yes. But tragically, not something we can do a lot about.”
Ten minutes later, Blaine curses under his breath.
“Mmmmmmhmmmm,” Kurt hums smugly.
“You need to find a way to get another ticket. Because let me make this very clear: I am going to your graduation. And I don't think you really want to tell your dad that he's not.”
“Find another ticket.”
“Scheduling!” Kurt announces, dropping a large erasable calendar onto their dining table.
“We've been living together four years and now you want a joint calendar?” Blaine asks. He sounds amused and maybe just a little bit condescending.
Kurt considers picking a fight with him about it, but takes a deep breath instead.
“Correct me if I'm wrong,” Kurt says, uncapping a marker. “Your mother is arriving from Ohio in 16 days, on the 19th. I'm picking her up at the airport and driving her to her hotel – wait, why am I doing that?”
“You sort of volunteered.”
“Okay... anyway, then your father, who is renting a car, thank god, is flying in from meetings in New York on the 20th. They're taking you –”
“Whatever – to dinner on the 21st. Your ceremony is on the 22nd. After which they'll probably drag us to some other thing, and then they leave the next morning, giving us two days and change until Dad, Carole, and Finn show up, probably not at the same time, late on the 26th, but we've only booked one hotel room for them, so maybe Finn is staying here?”
“Yeah we should figure that --”
“Meanwhile, my recital's on the 27th,” Kurt plows on. “Graduation's the next day, along with dinner with them, and then Wes and Pris show up that night because they can and you invited Santana, I don't even know why, and I think Rachel is coming up from New York because her graduation's next week, and, by the way, we need to send her a card, and I don't know who's booked hotel rooms and who hasn't or where we're going to put any of these people for a party we haven't even planned but that you swear everyone ever is going to come to on the 29th. And oh yeah, we need to be in DC on the 2nd so you can shake hands with important people and show off the boyfriend --”
“Boyfriend. You're not done with school, and we are not engaged....” Kurt takes a deep breath; he hates when Blaine does that. “Did I miss anything?”
“Mercedes,” Blaine says casually like Kurt isn't freaking out and hasn't just snapped at him about their non-marital status when he's the one wearing the ring.
“Finn said Mercedes was driving in with him.”
“The Finn and Mercedes part or the why am I more up on this than you are part?”
Blaine smiles, pries the dry-erase marker from Kurt's hand and pulls him into his lap. “Because I love you.”
“That makes no sense.”
Kurt kisses him, and Blaine turns it sloppy.
“Bed,” Blaine says. “We can figure this out later.”
After, Kurt's brain immediately snaps back to the logistical nightmare. He pushes himself up to sit up against their headboard, and Blaine curls against him, forehead pressed against Kurt's hip.
“You know how we said various people could stay here if they had to?” Kurt asks, fingers plucking idly at the sheets.
“I'm possibly regretting that decision.”
“You were kind of loud.”
Kurt shoves at Blaine and laughs.
“Oh god, I love that,” Blaine says, wrapping his arms around Kurt as tightly as he can.
“What?” Kurt asks, his laugh turning slightly nervous.
“You. Laughing. In bed. Sometimes I think it's all I've ever wanted.”
Kurt raises an eyebrow.
“Your joy, your ease, your comfort.”
“Okay, Blaine? Stop.” Kurt says gently as he threads his fingers through Blaine's hair.
“Because I don't have time to be this ridiculously moved by you right now.”
On the 19th, after dinner and a too long walk along the river, Kurt wandering far ahead of Blaine and his mother so that they can talk privately, they finally drop her off at her hotel, before making their own way home.
“I feel bad that she's alone tonight,” Blaine says.
“It must be strange is all. Me graduating. My father being the way he is. I think, if I were her I'd want someone to talk to. I mean, I do. I just keep feeling like the world's supposed to stop, momentous occasion and all that. But it's not. It's just us doing what we do.”
“If you want to stay with her tonight, I'll understand.”
“Yeah. I know. I don't though. I just... you know.”
“I do,” Kurt says, although he doesn't really.
It's the closest they've ever come to talking about how unhappy Kurt has always assumed Blaine's mother to be.
When they get home, Blaine sits down at the piano more out of reflex than any intent to actually play, and Kurt brings out his sewing box from where he keeps it under his vanity. He sets it down in the middle of the dining room table and perches in one of their chairs, his body twisted so that he can watch Blaine. He dumps out a tube of sequins on the table and threads a needle so that he can sew them on to the top of his graduation cap. It's not something that will really improve the ensemble in any way, but he knows he'll feel better for having made the effort.
“Do mine too?” Blaine asks when he realizes what Kurt's doing.
“Your dad will kill you.”
Blaine shrugs. “Not really.”
Kurt snorts. “How do you know I'm even going to be able to find sequins that match yours on one day's notice?”
“Because I looked in the bag, and you already bought them.”
“That's cheating, Blaine.”
“Did I deprive you of cajoling me?”
“Yes. Yes you did. And I'm very put out.”
“What can I do to make it up to you?”
Kurt laughs and sets his own cap aside to go find Blaine's. “Everything.”
Somehow, it's never occurred to Kurt that sitting with Blaine's parents at his graduation would be one of the most awkward experiences of his life, but, now that it's happening, that he should have expected it seems obvious. Mr. Anderson has insisted that Kurt sit next to him and not Blaine's mother.
“It is oddly impersonal, don't you think?” Kurt says eventually.
Mr. Anderson hums and nods.
“That's Blaine, though, there,” Kurt says pointing. “With the sequins.”
“Was that your idea?”
Kurt smiles wickedly. “What do you think?”
Dinner, with Blaine and his mother carrying most of the conversation, is less awkward. His father orders a bottle of wine as a celebratory gesture, and Kurt knows he's expected to partake, although he's not interested in his cleverness being dulled around Blaine's parents, nor is he pleased with the look Mr. Anderson gives him as the waiter pours, like he doesn't expect Kurt to be able to hold his wine.
Kurt's not really worried about it until a second bottle is ordered and he's asked to give the toast. He raises his glass, wrist and fingers soft and graceful around the stem, and his lips quirk into half a smile. His hands are the only thing about himself that he has always, always found beautiful.
He gives a little nod first to Blaine's father and then to his mother. But the toast is really only for Blaine; it's clear in the softness of his voice, and the way the words sound like a question, but totally aren't.
“To what's next,” he says simply, before mouthing I love you to his boyfriend.
Blaine leans over to kiss him, mouth far more open than it should be for a parental audience. But Kurt darts his tongue out for just a moment to enjoy that before guiding it into something more chaste and, more importantly, over, as quickly as he can. After, he's trembling a little, because wow, not appropriate, and he's really tempted to glance over to see if Blaine's father is freaking out.
But Blaine, who Kurt suddenly realizes is more sober than he's letting on, gives a minute shake of his head, and Kurt nods.
When Blaine comes home giddy and relaxed from seeing his parents off at the airport, Kurt has to remind him that he hasn't graduated yet; that they have a ton of people coming into town; and, oh yeah, Kurt has a recital to worry about. Blaine, taking the hint, tumbles into organizational mode and starts calling people to figure out when they're showing up and where they think they're sleeping.
“The news is mostly less grim than you think,” Blaine says to Kurt as he sits at their piano singing scales.
He nods for Blaine to continue, but keeps singing.
“Okay, so your parents are set; Finn and Mercedes have just been booked into an airport hotel because they apparently want privacy over convenience; and Wes and Pris are good, but I wasn't really worried about that. Rachel found some woman's dormitory sort of thing; I wasn't really clear on what the deal was, but she was smug about it and the location is fantastic....”
“Which just leaves Santana,” Kurt says, dropping out of his exercises.
“Because you saved the best for last.”
“I know you don't like her....”
“No. She makes me tired.”
“And you don't trust her.”
“What are you afraid she'll do?”
“You don't think we'd...?”
“God, no!” Kurt says, annoyed that Blaine somehow thinks that's his primary fear. "Still. Santana. But," he sighs, "she's your friend, and I don't want to be rude; I know she's been good for you.” I know you called her when you were in Shanghai and I couldn't stand the sound of your voice.
“Thanks.” Blaine sighs and runs a hand through his hair. “Do you want me to see if I can get her a room wherever Rachel's staying?”
“Honestly? That sounds like a terrible idea.”
Blaine laughs. “It really kind of does.”
“Okay, fine,” Kurt says throwing up his hands because even if there is a better solution, he's not sure he has the time to find it. “She can stay here, but – and I mean this – if drama transpires, it's your problem. Alcohol poisoning, crying, broken hearts, fist fights. Whatever it is, you're the one who gets to sit up with it. Deal?”
Kurt's parents come to the apartment before even checking in to their hotel.
When Blaine opens the door for them, Kurt exclaims, “Daddy!” and throws himself into his father's arms.
Blaine, not knowing what to do, smiles past them at Carole.
“Hi,” he says.
“Hi, Blaine. Congratulations. You must be relieved to be done,” she says as if this is all perfectly normal.
“You have no idea,” he says as Kurt extracts himself from his father's embrace and then greets Carol.
Blaine takes the moment to shake Burt's hand and ask Kurt if he should take Carol out to coffee while he and his dad catch up.
“Would you?” he asks, his face displaying a ridiculous amount of gratitude.
“Of course,” Blaine says smoothly. “Carole and I never get to spend enough time together.”
“That was a really good thing you did back there,” Carole says when they're seated at what's become he and Kurt's cafe of choice.
“Just doing what needed doing. And I really don't get to talk to you enough. Plus, Kurt's going through a lot right now, and that's sort of my fault, so....” Blaine trails off with a shrug.
“I'll tell you something that I won't tell him.”
“I think if he were ready for New York he would have fought for it.”
“And that's probably what he's confessing to his father right now. Not his frustration with you. But his frustration with himself.”
“So the talk this time isn't going to be how I better not break his heart?” Blaine asks with a chuckle.
“We know you're not going break his heart, honey.”
“He will be, you know, ready. He can't not be. He's so ridiculously good.”
Carole takes Blaine's hand and squeezes. “I know.”
“Oh my god, this is chaos,” Kurt says the night after he's graduated as he stands in the middle of his and Blaine's living room with a tray of drinks. He's trying to understand how they've somehow wound up having a party that involves his parents, a bunch of Blaine's classmates he's never really met, three people from his own program who are clearly there solely because they have nothing better to do, and an essentially random collection of people they went to high school with.
“Are you happy?” Blaine asks, grabbing a couple of drinks off the tray and twisting to shove them at Wes and Pris. Wes, who already has a drink in his other hand, in turn shoves his at Mercedes.
“I am so....” Kurt trails off uncertainly; he doesn't know what emotion to name. This whole thing is so much more Blaine's speed, and he doesn't want seem ungrateful. “It's just a lot.”
Before Blaine can respond, Santana walks up to them and drags a hand down Blaine's back before grabbing the tray from Kurt's hands.
“Hummel, stop serving drinks and enjoy your damn party.”
Thank you, Blaine mouths at her.
But the moment is ruined by Rachel grabbing Blaine's sleeve and asking whether it's really wise to let Santana serve the drinks.
After the last guests have left and nothing terrible has happened, Santana and Kurt curl up drunk on the sofa together as Blaine sets up the air mattress. He thinks Kurt might be sniffing her hair.
“You know what your problem is, Hummel?” she asks, pulling away from him.
“You?” he says, but there's no bite to it.
“You always expect the worst of people.”
“Want to tell me why I shouldn't?”
Blaine smiles to himself. Here it comes.
“Your father. Carole. Finn. Blaine. This crazy deal you have with his parents. I get that your life used to suck. Largely because of assholes like me. But it doesn't anymore. And, You. Need. To. Stop. Being. So. Defensive.” She punctuates each word by poking him in the sternum.
“If I say I'll take your point under consideration will you stop poking me?”
“No. I'm bored.”
When they board their flight to DC a few days later, Blaine slumps in his seat, exhausted, and drags the courtesy blanket over his face so that he can nap, but Kurt pulls it back down again.
“We've never flown together before,” he says, fastening his seat belt before crossing his legs primly and waiting for something marvelous to happen.
“If I hold your hand when we take off, can I sleep on your shoulder?” Blaine asks, hoping it's enough.
Kurt pretends to ponder this offer. “Don't you always?” he asks coyly.
They're in Dupont Circle for all of 45 minutes before Kurt says, “I want to live here.”
“So out of our price range,” Blaine says, trying to be good-natured about it. After all, they're not even here to look at apartments; they're here for him to do a meet and greet thing at his school and to see some theater and to convince Kurt that while the District is many things, not all of them good, it definitely doesn't have to be purgatory.
“Blaine. How many seriously spectacular designer pieces do I own? How much money have I ever made? We will just have to get lucky,” Kurt says, taking his boyfriend's hand as they walk down the street.
Blaine beams. It's a little bit new for Kurt to do this so easily in a place he doesn't even know, and suddenly, Blaine feels less terrified than he has in a long time.