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Emotions in Limine

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Kurt sighed as he pushed the elevator button for the ninth floor, looking out at the other buildings lining the Chicago streets through the windows as the elevator sped by. He hadn’t seen his office in three weeks. He'd been in Omaha for on the Harrison case with Quinn, one of his paralegals, and his partner, Sebastian, and the Chicago skyline was such a welcome sight after being away for so long.

Sebastian was his partner in law, not anything else – he liked to correct people, because Sebastian was more than happy to lead them on, if only to irritate Kurt. They were both passionate about their work and had an undeniable chemistry. It’s what made them excellent in court together. Even in law school, no one wanted to argue opposite Kurt and Sebastian during their exercises and mock trials. Together, they were practically unbeatable.

And well, if they’d given in to some of that chemistry post-trial, it just came with the territory of getting caught up in the joy of winning a major case. The pleasure that came from doing something right, not just for themselves, but for their client. What happens in Omaha stays in Omaha, right?

The same could be said for Indianapolis and Denver, Kurt supposed. And Minneapolis and Sioux Falls and …

Kurt really had to stop taking on these cases with Sebastian alone. He’d have to insist Santana take on more of the out of town stuff the rest of the year, though he knew she hated to be away from home for long. She tried to insist she found travel depressing, the basic Midwestern cities even more so, but Kurt thought it had more to do with Brittany, their receptionist, since he was almost certain Santana was sleeping with her

For what Sugar, their office manager, had dubbed ‘The Gayest Little Law Firm in the Midwest,’ they did seem to be fairly incestuous. Artie, their other paralegal, had once dated Sugar and there had been rumblings of him and Quinn seeing each other over the summer, though nothing had ever come from that. The only one who had been able to avoid the mess had been their third paralegal, Tina, since she was married to a lovely man, Mike, who was the one of the directors for the Joffrey Ballet (Kurt always forgot what he was in charge of – community management, maybe?). Tina was expecting their first child any day now, and had quit just before Kurt and the others had left for Omaha. Santana had hired a replacement, plus two additional paralegals since their case load had grown tremendously in the past year, and Kurt was happy to get some new blood in the office.

Kurt loved his coworkers, he did, but a change was always welcome. He’d worked with the same people the whole three and a half years the firm had been open. The eight of them had worked tirelessly together to get the little fledgling law firm of Hummel, Lopez and Smythe off the ground and Kurt would be forever indebted to all of them. They were slowly building a reputation for themselves, not just in Chicago, but the greater Midwest, and this was what Kurt imagined in his head when he thought about becoming a lawyer all throughout college, not the mundane firm he’d been stuck in for a whole year after graduation. His coworkers weren't just his coworkers; they were the closest thing he had to a family in Chicago.

Kurt strode through the glass doors, emblazoned with his name in neat, white letters – Santana’s and Sebastian’s right under, of course, but still. A little thrill shot down his spine whenever he noticed it. Thank goodness for alphabetization. He saw Brittany’s face brighten instantly behind the reception desk when she saw him, and he quickly hung his coat and hat on the rack (why was it still cold the first week of April?) and set down his briefcase and coffee cup before walking over to her and letting her envelop him in a tight hug. “Don’t tell Santana,” she whispered fiercely, a secret, “but I miss you guys when you’re not here. It’s just not the same without you. How was Omaha?”

“It smelled like cows,” Kurt replied, wrinkling his nose a little and making Brittany laugh. “The new paralegals settling in okay?” he asked, dropping his voice in case any of them were lurking behind reception.

Brittany nodded rapidly. “They’re not here yet. No one is. Just you and me! Lauren’s really good with computers and cameras and stuff that should be illegal, but it’s not, and Rachel’s kind of dramatic, but really sweet once you get to know her, and Blaine is great at following directions and really, really hardworking. He stayed here late with Santana almost every night this week.”

Kurt raised an eyebrow. Working late every night his first week there? He was probably a showoff, or perhaps had missed the memo that Santana was a lesbian, and had a crush. Still, it was nice to hear everyone was settling in well. He and Sebastian had been a little apprehensive about letting Santana conduct the interviews and hiring alone, but they were in a bit of a time crunch. Their biggest case yet was starting up in a few weeks, and they needed plenty of extra help.

"I'm going to try to get caught up, holler if you need me," Kurt finally said after allowing himself a few more minutes of gossip with Brittany, smacking his lips against her cheek as he left. He'd purposefully come in early to wade through the stacks of paperwork that had inevitably been left on his desk.

An hour later, his nonfat mocha was done for and his desk was at least organized. It wasn't quite nine yet, and Sugar had requested everyone meet in the conference room at ten to make introductions. Kurt would definitely need more coffee before then. He meandered to the break room, in a spectacularly good mood for just going through so much paperwork. He hummed a few bars from 'As If We Never Said Goodbye' under his breath as he pushed his back against the break room door to swing it open (it always seemed to lodge itself in Kurt’s head after traveling – it was one of his favorites from the brief time he was in glee club in high school). Kurt was so caught up in his own thoughts that he jumped considerably when he noticed he wasn't alone.

Kurt stared at the man turning to face him, the single-serve coffee maker previously occupying his attention, an amused grin playing on his lips. His suit jacket was slung over his folded arm, a navy blue bow tie and navy suspenders framing his crisp white shirt. Blaine, Kurt's brain supplied. Blaine Anderson, one of the paralegals. Kurt's eyes trailed up to his face again, deep amber eyes behind a pair of tortoiseshell frames, his hair parted and slicked back neatly with gel.

He suddenly wasn't so worried about Santana's hiring choices.

"Sorry," he said, finally finding his words after realizing he'd been staring a tad longer than should be professional, "I thought Brittany and I were the only ones here."

"No, I'm sorry," the man who was presumably Blaine said with a head tilt and a soft laugh. "I didn't mean to startle you. I'm Blaine."

"Kurt," he replied, walking over and proffering his hand for Blaine to shake. "Kurt Hummel."

"Well, Mr. Hummel, I've heard a lot about you." Blaine smiled at Kurt, all toothy and genuine, and Kurt felt a little weak in the knees. No one should be allowed to be this charming.

"Please, call me Kurt," he said, letting go of Blaine's hand and feeling a flush rise in his cheeks. What was happening to him? He was Kurt Hummel, attorney extraordinaire, known for his ability to never crack under pressure. What was he doing letting a cute paralegal fluster him? He broke Blaine's gaze, busying himself with selecting a coffee flavor, hoping he wasn't making too much of an ass of himself for a first impression.

"Kurt," Blaine repeated, taking his coffee mug from under the machine and raising it in mock toast. "I'm looking forward to working with you, Kurt."

With that and a nod in Kurt's direction, he was off, leaving Kurt to shamelessly stare at his ass as he walked out the door.

Kurt was certainly looking forward to working with Blaine too.

 

There was a knock on Kurt's door at nine thirty-five. "Hey, sexy," Sebastian said, low and teasing as he peeked his head in the door.

"Sebastian, shut the stupid door," Kurt hissed. "And we don't do that here. So, stop."

"We could," Sebastian said, sinking down into the plush club chair in front of Kurt's desk. Oh, fuck. They had been over this.

"Sebastian, we've known each other for eight years. I could go on for hours about how wrong that would be, and you know I'm right." Kurt let his words hang in the room, finally groaning loudly. "Omaha was a mistake, okay? It was a sleep deprived, alcohol induced, post-trial euphoric decision, one that isn't going to happen again." Ever. Which he had said after all of the other times too, but this time he was sticking to it.

Sebastian pursed his lips. "If you say so. You say this every time and you still come back. I thought we were pretty fucking fantastic. One of these days you’re actually going to let me fuck you, you know."

"I didn't ask you, and no I’m not," Kurt snapped. He softened his tone before continuing. "Now, come on, the Schuesters are paying us way too much money for things to get messy between us."

"Duly noted." Sebastian looked Kurt in the eye, and Kurt knew it was. Both of them had too much professional integrity for something as silly as feelings to get in the way. Regardless, Kurt wasn’t sure Sebastian was even capable of feelings. "Game face on, Hummel, let's go meet these newbies."

 

Blaine, Lauren, and Rachel integrated themselves seamlessly into the group, and two weeks in, it was as if they'd always been there. One particular Friday, Kurt was knee deep scouring board meeting transcripts, and there was no way he was getting out of there on time. Other law firms probably would have left all of the transcripts for the paralegals to dig through, but with the firm's small size, Kurt was used to getting his hands dirty. He always thought it prepared him better for the case anyway.

He picked up half of what was left and headed to the office the three new paralegals were sharing, thumping the hard copies down on the table by the door. "I need help going through these, who wants the overtime?" he asked, a bit wearily.

Blaine, of course, volunteered. He had been nothing but polite and professional for the whole two weeks he and Kurt had worked together, and Kurt had already taken a shine to him. He was hardworking, like Brittany had said, and he worked more quickly and efficiently than even Quinn, who worked with Kurt like a well oiled machine after all these years, though he'd never dare tell her. They moved to the conference room after everyone left to spread out, and studied the transcripts in relative silence, searching for any mention of their clients' names.

Blaine's stomach growled loudly after they'd been at work for a while, and Kurt's eyes shot up to the wall clock. It was almost eight already. Shit. "God, I'm sorry, Blaine. I didn't realize it was so late. Sugar usually orders dinner for me when I stay late because I always forget to stop and eat ..." He trailed off, dropping his highlighter and pen on the table and getting up to find the stack of take out menus.

He found them successfully stashed away near Sugar's desk, and they settled on Thai. It was surprisingly quick for a Friday night, and Kurt pulled his Shrimp Pad Thai and accompanying ginger salad out of the delivery box with a groan that could be considered obscene, informing Blaine of his one rule - no working while they ate.

"So, Blaine, are you from Chicago?" Kurt asked conversationally as he picked through his salad.

"No, New York," Blaine answered as he did the same. "I've only been here a since January. My parents are in New York, and my brother is in LA, and I guess I landed somewhere in the middle." He laughed a little before returning to his salad.

No wonder the kid jumped at overtime, Kurt thought. He didn't have any friends in Chicago. He shook his head, bringing himself back to the conversation when he realized Blaine was asking him the same question. "I've been here eight years, since law school, but I grew up in Ohio. Almost made it to New York for college, but settled on Princeton instead."

"Oh, poor you, settling on Princeton," Blaine replied, but his tone was mischievous and Kurt grinned.

"Such a rough life. I had my heart set on NYADA, though - I know, I know, in high school I thought I could actually make a living as an actor, silly me." Kurt laughed, pausing to lick a bit of the ginger dressing off his hand, and he realized Blaine's tone had grown serious once he started speaking.

"It's not silly at all. Actually, my whole family acts. Nothing major, commercials and bit parts in TV, but - I kind of got burnt out on it by the time I got to college. It somehow wasn't fun anymore."

"Well, that's depressing," Kurt said matter-of-factly, and they both laughed. "Santana and I went to high school together, and she'd gotten into Princeton, with plans to go onto law school - so when NYADA fell through, and I had no back-up plan, I stupidly copied her. Majored in Politics, because my dad was our district's congressman for a few years, and then we both came here to Northwestern. She fed me some line about lawyers really just being actors deep down, putting on a show for the jury of course, and I fell for it. First she couldn't shake me, and then I couldn't shake her. We picked up Sebastian at Northwestern along the way and when the three of us aren't at each other's throats, we're a pretty good team."

"I can see that, just from the short time I've been here. You're all very ... passionate," Blaine said with a small grin as he stabbed a piece of lettuce with his plastic fork.

"Oh, come on, Blaine, you can say it, we're all crazy here," Kurt replied with a hearty laugh. "That you willingly signed up for the crazy, though, I'm not sure what that says about you."

"I like a challenge," Blaine quipped, and oh, this kid wasn't allowed to be handsome and charming and funny too. It was no secret that witty banter was a turn on for Kurt. The ‘lawyers are just actors’ concept initially drew him to the profession, but Kurt loved words. He loved using them to construct a strong argument, he loved using them to get justice for people who were wronged, but most of all, he loved a good conversation. A good conversation was like foreplay for Kurt.

From the time they'd spent together, Kurt could tell that Blaine was someone who used his words well. They were simple, direct, to the point, but also purposeful. Words sounded good rolling off his tongue. His voice was soothing, somehow.

Basically, Kurt was screwed.

Kurt realized he'd gotten lost in his Pad Thai (and Blaine's words, and his eyes, and damnit), and he cleared his throat. "So, is that why you became a paralegal? For a challenge?"

Blaine's face twitched and he bowed his head, and shit, Kurt had hit a nerve. No turning back, though. "I actually went to law school. Completed my first year and then deferred."

"Blaine, you don't have to tell me if you don't want to." Kurt's voice was soft, but not pitying. Kurt thought he knew Blaine well enough to know he wouldn't want that.

"No, it's okay," Blaine said, tossing his empty salad container in the box and pulling out his own meal. "It's just - I wanted to become a lawyer because of the injustice I saw growing up. Some of it happened to me, some of it happened to my friends, some of it just happened. I - I take cases too personally. I get angry. I lose focus. It's not good for me, it's not good for the client."

Kurt chewed a bite of his dinner, thinking over Blaine's words. "Blaine, there are plenty of lawyers who don't try cases."

Blaine's eyes snapped up to meet Kurt's at his words. "No, I know. But, I didn't want to end up splitting up wills or property or - that's not why I wanted to become a lawyer. I wanted to help people - not that those types of attorneys don't help, but."

"No, I understand. Your heart's in the right place, Blaine." Kurt smiled fondly at him before spearing a shrimp with his fork and popping it in his mouth.

"I like to think so," Blaine said, returning Kurt's smile. "So, I dropped out of law school, went to the local community college for a year - which is so ass-backwards, I know, but I wanted an actual piece of paper to fall back on. And here I am. It's worked out pretty well so far. Still helping people, just behind the scenes."

"Well, you're very good at it, for what it's worth," Kurt said. "Santana's been singing your praises, and I for one am happy to have you around."

Blaine gave him another smile, this time it genuinely meeting his eyes, before returning to his food. Blaine changed the subject to their case then, and Kurt went with it, figuring they'd shared enough personal information for the night, ignoring his rule of no shop talk during dinner just this once.

 

While Santana and Sebastian would assist Kurt on the Schuester case at trial, they had other cases to wrap up while Kurt and the paralegals were preparing for it. It would take months to collect and research everything they’d need to be ready for trial, and Blaine and Quinn were the paralegals assisting Kurt the most.

Kurt tried to justify working so closely with Blaine as an excuse to get a better feel for Blaine’s work ethic, even though deep down he knew there was more to it than that. He genuinely enjoyed Blaine’s company on the late nights, and he especially liked learning more about him during their dinner chats. He tried to ignore the pinging in his chest at each new tidbit of information – Blaine used to sing, both in high school and in college a capella groups, Blaine organized his bow ties by color and fabric, Blaine considered himself a romantic at heart, but had ‘no idea what he was doing.’

One brisk Tuesday morning, Kurt brought Blaine along with him to meet with a few witnesses. They finished up around one, and Kurt suggested they grab lunch from a café before heading back to the office.

They collapsed into a booth, Kurt ordering a Cobb salad and Blaine a chicken Caesar, discussing what they needed to get done when they got back to the office. Lunches were the opposite of dinner for Kurt – smack dab in the middle of the day, prime time for work discussions. They were deep in discussion when the waiter brought their salads, and Blaine was just asking something about the School Board (who they were up against in this particular case), when he caught Kurt staring. He set down his knife, stabbing a piece of chicken with his fork, and asked, “What?”

Blaine actually used both a knife and fork to eat his salad. It was kind of adorable. Kurt told him so (minus the adorable part).

“Of course,” Blaine said matter-of-factly, grinning widely (and he had to stop doing that, it just made him even more delightful, Kurt was in so much trouble). “No one wants to sit across from someone biting down on a huge hunk of lettuce!”

Kurt looked down at his own salad. He didn’t speak for a moment, and Blaine asked, “What?” again, laughing a little.

“It’s just –“ adorable, charming, endearing, perfect, “very you,” he settled on, suddenly very self conscious about the bites of salad he was taking. “We’ve ordered Thai like, half a dozen times. I’ve never seen you do that before.”

“Well, the Thai place doesn’t send plastic knives with their cutlery,” Blaine explained, picking up his knife again.

He returned the conversation to the Schuester case, and Kurt tried not to think about how Blaine’s adorable quirks were growing so numerous they were going to need their own file folder soon.

 

Kurt's thirtieth birthday was just around the corner, and instead of heeding his warnings of wanting to do nothing, Sugar had planned him a surprise party at one of the local bars. He would have hated her for it, but everyone from the firm was there, plus Tina and Mike, and Finn and Puck had driven in from Ohio. "Happy Birthday, sweet cheeks," she announced on the Saturday night before his birthday when she'd dragged him to the bar under the pretense of needing to gossip for a bit and not letting him stay cooped up in his apartment on the day before his birth, thirty or not.

"I hate you all!" Kurt shouted at the crowd that was gathered, but he couldn't wipe the grin off his face if he tried. They'd commandeered a corner of the bar and Kurt figured he should make introductions. "Alright, our little group has grown, not that we don't miss our Tina dearly," he started, grinning at his friend and pulling her into a quick hug. "The newbies are Blaine, Rachel and Lauren, and this is my stepbrother, Finn, and his business partner, Puck. I think everyone else knows each other," he added with a handwave.

"Yes, we've already been acquainted," Rachel said shyly, meeting Finn's eye, and god, Kurt needed a drink. Fast.

They settled into barstools, the conversation loud and boisterous and the other bar patrons probably hated them, Kurt was sure of it. "So, let me get this straight," Lauren said, leaning over the corner of the bar. "You four went to high school together?"

"Puck, Finn, Kurt, and I were totes the talk of McKinley High," Santana replied, already slurring her words a little, and Kurt tried to mentally keep track of how many drinks he'd already had - and failed. "Finn's mom married Kurt's dad, what, like junior year? And Puck and I used to date, before I saw the error of my ways and realized I was in love with the ladies." Everyone laughed loudly at that and Puck blew Santana a kiss.

"And, well, I don't know if you'd consider what Finn and I did dating." Finn's cheeks flushed and Kurt heard Sebastian let out a whoop, even though he'd heard this story at least a dozen times before. "But anyway, Puck and Finn were football players and Kurt and I were cheerleaders -"

"Oh my god, I am not drunk enough for this conversation," Kurt muttered, cutting her off and motioning to the bartender for another round. He met Blaine's eye at the other end of the bar, who quirked his eyebrow at him. Kurt just shook his head and lifted his glass to his mouth, trying to get every last drop of alcohol out of it. "Can we change the conversation to something that's happened in, oh, the last decade?"

"Spoilsport," Santana pouted, but thankfully, she switched topics after that.

After a while, people started excusing themselves to the makeshift dance floor in the middle of the bar, first Santana and Brittany, then some lovely Irish stranger asked Sugar to dance, and by the time Kurt excused himself to use the restroom and returned, it was just Blaine sitting at the end of the bar by his lonesome. Puck was dancing with Lauren and Finn with Rachel. Quinn was dancing around Artie's wheelchair while he did some notable dance moves with his arms, and even Sebastian had found some young college looking kid to dance with.

"It's my birthday and I'm the only one not hooking up," Kurt said with a sigh as he settled into the barstool next to Blaine.

"I'm sure we could fix that," Blaine said with a laugh. "Those two guys over on the other side of the room keep looking at us, but I think they think we're together. I could go inform them we're not."

Kurt turned to look in the direction of Blaine's nodding head. The two guys were cute, if a little older than them (and really, who was Kurt to talk, he was thirty), and normally, Kurt would probably be interested, but he was warm and toasty from the drinks and kind of liked the idea of getting to talk to Blaine alone.

"That's not -" he started to say when the bartender brought them refills, a vodka tonic for Kurt and club soda with lime for Blaine. "What - why aren't you drinking? Do you not drink?" What if Blaine was some recovering alcoholic and they'd brought him to a bar, he was kind of shifty about his past -

"No, I drink," Blaine quickly said, chuckling at Kurt's probably horrified face. "I just - sometimes I don't make the best decisions when I drink, and the last thing I wanted to do was embarrass myself on my boss's birthday."

"Blaine," Kurt said, sighing exasperatedly. He placed a hand on Blaine's arm, where his shirt sleeve was rolled up, and Blaine's skin was hot under his fingers, and his bow tie was a little loose around his neck, the top button of his shirt unbuttoned as well, Kurt noticed, and he suddenly had the urge to untie the tie completely. No, Kurt thought, focus. "I know I'm technically your boss, but we really are a family. One crazy, dysfunctional, fucked up family. I - I want you to be comfortable around us."

"I am," Blaine replied, meeting Kurt's gaze, and Blaine's eyes were warm and reassuring and Kurt had to look away before he did something stupid. He signaled for the bartender instead.

"Whatever you want. On me," Kurt said, which was kind of stupid, because he knew Santana and Sebastian would probably just split the tab at the end of the night, like he and Sebastian had done for Santana's thirtieth. Blaine didn't know that, though.

"Alright, alright!" Blaine said, raising his hands in surrender and ordering a gin and tonic.

"You are old enough to drink, right?" Kurt teased as he took his first sip.

Blaine's brow furrowed a bit, an amused expression playing on his face. "How old do you think I am?"

"It was a joke, Blaine, I know you're old enough to drink - I don't know, twenty-four, twenty-five?"

Blaine’s eyes grew wide and he laughed. Kurt couldn’t be that off – right? “I’m only a year younger than you. I’ll have to go through the whole turning thirty bit next year.”

“Seriously?” Kurt stared at Blaine’s face, his eyes a bit unfocused, so he squinted instead. “Well, you look damn good for twenty-nine,” he finally said, smiling coyly and shit, was he flirting?

“Oh, come on, like you really look like you’re thirty,” Blaine countered, taking a sip of his gin and tonic. “Though, by the time my birthday rolls around, you’ll be a pro at the whole being thirty thing. I might need you around to make sure I don’t have a new-decade crisis.”

“It’s a date,” Kurt replied, lifting his own glass to his mouth and sucking on an ice cube, and he was totally flirting. He wondered if Blaine could tell; he wasn’t tipsy and delightful like Kurt was. He stared at Blaine for far longer than should be acceptable, and Blaine finally broke their gaze, laughing softly into his glass.

Their drinks dwindled quickly, since Kurt wasn’t allowing himself to talk for fear of what might slip out. Before he knew it, the bartender was back in front of them with two shot glasses full of what looked suspiciously like tequila and limes to go with them. He was saying something about compliments of someone, and Kurt noticed the guys Blaine had pointed out earlier waving at them. Of course they were. “We – he already poured them, I guess we can’t turn them down,” Kurt said, eyeing the shot glasses wearily after the bartender left.

“Bottoms up,” Blaine said, clinking their glasses together. Kurt grimaced at their tequila buyers from across the room before drinking the shot as fast as he could, coughing as it burned down his throat.

“Oh, god, now I remember why I stopped drinking tequila in law school,” Kurt sputtered, reaching for his empty vodka tonic glass for ice after he’d exhausted the lime. The bartender asked if they wanted another and Blaine said yes before Kurt could find his words.

“Oh no, I think I’ve hit my limit,” Kurt said once he did, pushing his refilled shot glass towards Blaine. “That’s the nice thing about being thirty, you know the line between pleasantly drunk and depressed and hugging the toilet for the rest of the night.”

“Kurt Hummel, if I didn’t know better, I’d think you were trying to get me liquored up to have your way with me,” Blaine teased, and oh, Blaine’s filter was gone too, and Kurt watched wordlessly as he knocked the shots back, trying not to think of all the ways he could have Blaine, in his hands, in his mouth, in his bed. The smallest drop of tequila was dripping from the bow of his mouth, and Kurt had to restrain himself from licking it off or brushing it away with his thumb, handing him a cocktail napkin instead. “Thanks,” Blaine said, a little sheepishly. “That was probably a horrible idea. Tequila and I aren’t exactly friends.”

“Is anyone friends with tequila though, really?” Kurt asked, laughing at Blaine’s pained expression. Blaine ran his tongue over the top of his lip, making sure the napkin had caught any remaining tequila, and suddenly the bar felt small and stifling. Kurt needed to get out, but he didn’t want to leave Blaine quite yet. “I think I really am done for the night,” he said, rattling the ice cubes in his abandoned vodka tonic, “and I could use some fresh air. Walk outside with me?”

Blaine simply nodded, wobbling a little on his feet once he hopped off his barstool, as if all three shots had hit him at once. Kurt reached for his hand to lead him out of the bar, and it was solid and warm in his own. They walked past their coworkers and friends on the dance floor, past the couple who had bought them the shots, and finally, finally, Kurt opened the bar door and was hit with a cool blast of fresh springtime air. They walked down to the corner, and Kurt realized he was still holding Blaine’s hand. He dropped it quickly and knew he was blushing (as if his cheeks weren’t already bright red from the amount of alcohol he’d consumed).

Blaine was flushed too, Kurt was unsure if it was from the handholding or the tequila, and he raised his hand to scratch at the back of his neck, as if he didn’t know what to do with it now that Kurt wasn’t holding it. Kurt was thirty years old, goddamn it, what was he doing getting flustered by an adorable guy he’d just held hands with? He realized Blaine was speaking, and snapped out of his own thoughts to listen. “Where are we going?” Blaine repeated.

“I – I don’t know. I didn’t have a plan, really, I just needed some air,” Kurt replied, stumbling over his words a little. Blaine opened his mouth to say something, and then stopped, resting his hands on his hips and tilting his head a little, his eyes focusing on something behind Kurt’s head. Kurt turned to see a small restaurant behind them, a clock hanging in the window. It read twelve-oh-three.

“It’s after midnight,” Blaine said, grinning at Kurt. “It’s officially your birthday!”

“I suppose it is,” Kurt mused, matching Blaine’s grin as he turned to face him. Still having no plan, Kurt started to walk vaguely in the direction of his apartment, Blaine following him, their shoulders brushing against each other every few steps. Kurt half-wondered why Blaine was blindly following him, if it was because he was worried about him getting home safely, or that he had actually felt whatever Kurt had felt between them in the bar too. He wasn’t curious enough to actually ask though, so on they went and after walking a block in silence, Blaine finally spoke.

“Alright, I have to ask. You can ask me whatever you’re curious about in fairness but – a cheerleader, really?”

Kurt laughed loudly, looking at their surroundings, faced with an apartment building that was not his own. It had nice, wide stone steps though, and his building or not, Kurt needed to sit. He collapsed on the third step up, and Blaine sat down next to him, close enough so Kurt could feel the heat radiating off of his body, or maybe that was just his imagination, but either way - distracting. “I’ll have you know I made red and white polyester look fierce, alright?”

“I don’t doubt it,” Blaine whispered, leaning his shoulder into Kurt’s, and the tone of his voice was just sinful. Kurt suddenly felt a tad uncomfortable in the tight jeans he’d chosen to wear that night, and he shifted slightly on the cool steps.

“Anyway,” Kurt continued, choosing to ignore Blaine’s comment. “My freshman year was hard. I was in glee club, like you, but I was shoved around a lot because of it, and it kind of fell into my lap sophomore year. We won Nationals that year, and my senior year, and it was good. Kept me out of trouble. Kept other kids from harassing me. I don’t know, looking back now, it’s all so embarrassing because I was so self-involved, but what teenager isn’t?”

Blaine nodded, staring at Kurt as if he was hanging on every single word coming out of his mouth. “Can I really ask you whatever I want now?” Kurt asked, voice low and conspiratorial. “I feel like I shafted you because it’s so not an exciting story.”

“What’s fair is fair,” Blaine replied, bumping Kurt’s shoulder with his own again, and he had to stop doing that. “Hit me.”

Kurt studied Blaine’s face, wondering if he should really ask the question he wanted to. He barreled forward quickly, before he talked himself out of it. “Just now, back at the bar. When you said you didn’t want to embarrass yourself. What did you mean by that?” Blaine looked surprised for a moment, and then shifted his gaze to the concrete below. Kurt turned his head to stare out at the street, to give Blaine some space. He knew he shouldn’t have asked. In his guilt, he started to ramble. “I mean, from the way you talked, I figured you’d be taking off your clothes and dancing on the bar or something, and you seem fairly normal to me –“

He turned to look at Blaine once more, and stopped his rambling when he saw how close Blaine’s face was to his. “Oh,” he whispered softly, unsure what Blaine was doing, but butterflies in his stomach started fluttering all the same. Blaine raised a hand to his cheek, running his thumb over Kurt’s jaw, and Kurt exhaled ever so slightly. His brain suddenly wouldn’t shut up. He was sitting on a random set of steps with his very-adorable-yet-very-drunk coworker, no paralegal, he was Blaine’s boss and Blaine was about to kiss him, which was wrong on so many levels, but –

Kurt’s mind finally quieted when Blaine actually kissed him, gently at first, just a brush of their lips against each other, until Kurt fisted his hand in Blaine’s rumpled cotton shirt, pulling him in for more, and Blaine let out a low groan against his lips, which was the sexiest fucking thing Kurt had heard in a really long time, maybe in forever. Blaine opened his mouth slightly, and Kurt didn’t hesitate before slipping his tongue in-between his lips, the taste of tequila still strong, but underneath he could just barely make out the taste that had to be uniquely Blaine.

The moment was broken when a door a few buildings down slammed shut and they both jumped back from each other. Blaine sheepishly looked away, running his fingers through his hair, trying unsuccessfully to flatten it back into shape. He dropped his hands to his lap, clearing his throat and still not looking at Kurt. “Um. Yeah. Bad decision making skills when drinking. Like kissing my boss …”

Kurt couldn’t make out the rest of Blaine’s muttering, something about making it all up in his head, so he decided to stop him right there. “Thank god for tequila,” he said, still a little breathless from Blaine’s kisses. “I don’t know if I would have let myself cross that line no matter how much I fucking wanted to.”

Before Blaine could answer, Kurt leaned back over, placing a finger under Blaine’s chin to tilt his head, placing just one kiss on his lips, firm and reassuring. “Come home with me,” Kurt whispered, barely hearing Blaine’s affirmative answer, the words getting lost in the rustling of the trees as he got up from the steps to hail a cab.

 

Luckily, Sugar had picked a bar close to Kurt’s apartment, so the cab ride was quick, Kurt thrusting a twenty at the driver and telling him to keep the change. Kurt usually enjoyed living in a building with a doorman, but on the very rare occasion he brought someone home, he always felt as if he was secretly being judged. They made it to the elevator without a fuss, however, and Kurt fumbled with his keys, finally letting them both into his humble home on the twelfth floor.

“Ta-da,” Kurt said, flinging the door open, and making a beeline for the kitchen to grab them both aspirin and bottles of water. “Since tequila is not your friend,” he explained, popping the remaining two aspirin in his mouth and placing a hand on the countertop near the sink. He took off his shoes, resting them in the caddy by the door to put away later, and Blaine followed suit.

“You have a nice place,” Blaine said, sounding a little unsure, before unscrewing the cap off his water and downing half of it quickly. Kurt left his near-empty bottle on the counter and figured he could at least show Blaine around to put on the air of some self-control (even though realistically he wanted to get Blaine to his room as soon as possible).

“Thanks,” he said, making eye contact with Blaine as he walked past and then pointing upwards. “I liked the exposed ceilings. There’s so much architecture in Chicago, so much history, I wanted something with a story, you know? The living room, dining room, and kitchen are pretty self-explanatory I guess, and I have an office through there,” Kurt added, waving at the closed door. “Then my bedroom is through here,” he said, glad he finally had Blaine closer to where he wanted him.

Kurt turned around to find Blaine hot on his heels and in his personal space, which was more than welcome, but it caught him off guard. “You don’t seem drunk anymore,” Blaine said, his arms hanging lifeless at his sides, as if this new revelation might change things.

“I’m not,” Kurt replied, because he wasn’t, not really. He was still pleasantly fuzzy around the edges, but between the walk and the cab ride, most of his buzz had worn off. “You’re not either,” he noted. “Did you really think I just brought you home because I was drunk and didn’t want to be alone on my birthday, or something?”

Blaine laughed and took a step forward, Kurt taking a step back to move out of his way. “I don’t know, you seemed pretty insistent on telling me your thoughts on Chicago architecture …”

Kurt took another few steps back, pretending to be outraged. “Oh, fuck you,” Kurt yelped, continuing to walk backwards, Blaine stepping forward in time to keep up with him. Kurt had spent far too many years drinking with Sebastian and Santana, their horrible vocabulary rubbing off on him. He really should do something about that, but he saw Blaine’s eyes darken at his words. Maybe not.

More steps backwards, and he grabbed for Blaine’s arm to try to steady himself, which felt strong and muscular under the sleeve of his shirt. “What do you propose we do instead, Blaine?” and as if on cue, the back of his legs hit his mattress and he went tumbling down on top of it. He might not have been drunk any longer, but he was far from stone cold sober, and didn’t possess the reflexes to right himself.

“Mmm, I don’t know, you seem to have figured it out,” Blaine said as Kurt struggled to sit back upright on the edge of the bed. Blaine was close enough that Kurt could reach his askew bow tie, swiftly untying it and letting it hang at either side of his collar.

“I’ve wanted to do that all night,” Kurt murmured, running his fingers over the newly exposed skin at Blaine’s open collar. “You’re usually so much more put together, it was like it was teasing me, a little glimpse of what you’d look like if you let loose a little –“

Blaine raised an eyebrow as if Kurt had challenged him. “You don’t think I ever let loose.” It was a statement, not a question.

“I didn’t say that,” Kurt protested, but before he could explain further Blaine was pushing him back on the bed, kissing him fast and insistent, and hell, Blaine could think whatever he wanted, as long as he kept kissing him like that, like he had something to prove. He didn’t need to prove anything to Kurt, but even so, kissing his way into Kurt's mouth was kind of insanely hot, as if he was committing everything his lips and tongue touched to memory.

“God, this is better than I imagined,” Kurt breathed out as Blaine tugged at his hair, exposing Kurt’s neck enough to get at with his mouth. Blaine’s mouth slowed, sucking on the same spot above Kurt’s collar, and Kurt kept putting his foot in his mouth, didn’t he? “I need to shut my damn mouth,” Kurt muttered, and he swore he felt Blaine chuckle against his skin.

“You’ve thought about this before?” Blaine grunted against his throat, and Kurt nodded, not trusting his mouth to not betray him. “Prove it,” Blaine insisted, pulling back far enough to see Kurt’s face. “Tell me what you want, birthday boy.”

Kurt groaned and arched his back, hips seeking friction that was nowhere to be found, so he reached up to grip that perfect ass he first saw eight weeks ago leaving the break room. It felt amazing, as expected, firm, taut muscle under his flattened palms, and he rolled his hips up against Blaine’s, Blaine’s half-hard cock brushing over his hip, and at some point along the line, he realized he hadn’t answered Blaine’s question.

“Oh, Blaine, we don’t have enough time to do all the things I’ve thought of, and I don’t have nearly enough patience tonight.” Blaine was staring at him, waiting with his eyes wide and mouth slightly gaping. Kurt let go of Blaine’s ass with one hand, tracing his thumb along Blaine’s lower lip. “You’ve proven that you’re especially good with your mouth so far, though.”

Blaine’s face brightened, laughing slightly before drawing Kurt’s thumb into his mouth, sucking gently and then swirling his tongue around it. He pulled it into his mouth further, sucking all the while, running his tongue in circles on the pad, and maybe it was because Kurt was still a little tipsy, but it felt as if his hand was hardwired to his cock, a long, invisible current connecting it to Blaine’s mouth. “Blaine Anderson, you better not be a tease,” Kurt said, not finding it in himself to withdraw his thumb from Blaine’s lips.

Blaine dropped his mouth open enough to coax Kurt’s hand away, leaning all of his weight on one of his arms to reach down and cup Kurt through his far too many layers of clothing. “I would never tease you, Kurt Hummel. Trust me, I’ve got you,” he murmured, squeezing tightly around Kurt’s cock.

Clothes were shed then, shirts and pants and finally, finally, Blaine was nosing at Kurt’s hipbones and fumbling with Kurt’s belt. Kurt couldn’t remember the last time he’d been comfortable enough with someone to relinquish control in the bedroom, take whatever his partner gave to him, and he wasn’t sure why he felt that way in only two short months of knowing Blaine. It was perfect, though – it was his birthday after all.

Blaine’s little preview earlier was nothing in comparison to the real thing. Let loose he did, and others might have considered him sloppy, but Kurt thought it was wonderful. Blaine started out slow, sucking at the head of Kurt’s cock gently, before running his tongue down the underside and taking as much as he could in his mouth. Kurt’s hips began to rock, pushing him further and further into Blaine’s mouth but Blaine didn’t hold him down, he just took more of Kurt’s cock down his throat, and Kurt finally had to tangle his fingers in Blaine’s gelled-down curls just to steady himself. Blaine’s mouth was so tight and wet around him with just the perfect amount of suction, and it had been months since Kurt had had decent sex, so he wasn’t going to last long even with alcohol involved.

Blaine trailed the hand wrapped around the base of Kurt’s cock down further, stroking his balls as he passed, but settling on Kurt’s ass, gripping tightly and pulling Kurt deeper into his mouth, and when Kurt felt Blaine’s throat relaxing around him, he was done for.

He tugged sharply at Blaine's hair to warn him, and he pulled off just before Kurt came, pumping him through his orgasm with his hand. Before Kurt could even catch his breath, Blaine moved his hand to his own cock, jerking off with what was left of Kurt’s come on his hand, and as hot as that was, Kurt wasn’t missing the chance to return the favor.

He pushed a hand flat against Blaine’s chest to roll him on his back and covered Blaine’s hand with his own. “Let me,” he whispered, and he was quick to replace their hands with his mouth.

“I’m so close already, Kurt, I’m not going to last,” Blaine said as Kurt sunk his mouth down as far as he could go, tasting his own come on Blaine’s cock, which was a first, but kind of hot. True to his word, Blaine was fisting his hands in Kurt’s hair before Kurt had even brought his hand into the mix, and Kurt knew he should pull off but he couldn’t bring himself to, only removing his mouth when Blaine’s hips were pulling back from oversensitivity. Blaine let out a short chuckle as Kurt climbed up to the pillows next to him, feeling fairly punch drunk as well.

Kurt let out a yawn loud enough for his jaw to crack audibly, and Blaine raised a hand to his cheek, rubbing softly. “There, there, old man,” Blaine teased, and Kurt croaked out a fuck you, though it held nowhere near the same candor it had earlier.

“You’re staying, right?” Kurt asked, and Blaine hummed in response, and that was the last thing Kurt remembered before he drifted off to sleep.

 

Kurt was rudely awakened by the sound of his cell phone ringing far too early for any Sunday, but especially his birthday. He groaned, realizing he’d forgotten to set it to silent before falling into bed that night – but in his defense, he had been a little preoccupied. He shot up, only then noticing the still naked, still sleeping Blaine, just as gorgeous as ever even with the rumpled hair. He padded to the foot of the bed, searching for his pants, and found his phone still lodged in the pocket. Sugar’s bright and happy face filled the screen and he groaned again before answering. “Hello?” he croaked, rubbing a hand over his face.

“Oh, good, you’re alive!” she proclaimed, and Kurt could have sworn he heard clapping in the background. “As your hostess, what kind of person would I be if I didn’t make sure you got home okay?”

Kurt paused to try and pull on his boxer briefs from the night before. “I’m fine. Slightly hungover and not awake, but fine.” He noticed Blaine finally stirring at his words, sitting up and looking as if he had no clue where he was. His eyes finally locked on Kurt and Kurt mouthed an apology, pointing at his phone. “Sorry I didn’t say goodnight, it seemed as if everyone was … otherwise engaged.”

Sugar giggled at him. “Honey, I am never too engaged for little old you! Do you know where Blaine went? He disappeared too!”

Kurt turned back around to see Blaine still trying to wake up, sitting on the edge of Kurt’s bed and attempting to run a hand through his hair. He couldn’t tell Sugar that Blaine was sitting right next to him. “We, uh – we shared a cab when we left. I got dropped off first, but I assume he made it home alright.” Kurt hoped that his lie made sense – he realized he had no idea where Blaine even lived.

“He took a cab? Oh, that probably cost him a fortune … you’re sure he took the cab the whole way home?”

Shit. “No, Sugar, I’m not, I just know – that’s where I last saw him.” Kurt flopped back into the bed against his pillows. He needed to get her off the phone.

“Oh, well I suppose I should just call him. You have any exciting plans for the big day, Mr. Thirty?”

Kurt gazed at Blaine’s back where he was still sitting on the edge of the bed. He would be perfectly content to not leave his bed all day if Blaine was up for the idea – Blaine wasn’t looking his way, but they had been rudely awakened. “I’m not sure. I have a few options. I should probably go figure that out, see you tomorrow?”

Once Kurt disconnected the call, he asked Blaine, somewhat loudly, “Where on earth do you live?” He saw Blaine’s shoulders shake with laughter, Blaine still not turning to face him.

“Jefferson Park. It’s not that far - Sugar just thinks anything that isn’t downtown is a nightmare.”

Kurt watched as Blaine pulled on his underwear and pants – damn – and as if on cue, his phone rang. “Hello, my sweetness,” Blaine answered, pouring on the charm, and no wonder everyone loved him. “No, no, I had the cabbie drop me off at the L, everything’s fine.”

Kurt tuned out the rest of their conversation – no wonder Blaine was always at work early, his commute had to be over forty-five minutes including getting to and from the L, he probably left early to account for any problems along the way. Too bad the blue line ran twenty-four seven, he couldn’t use the excuse of trains not running so early to get Blaine to stay.

He realized Blaine was off the phone and asking him a question, clothes gathered in hand. If he could use Kurt’s bathroom, or should he use the one in the hall. “No, go on,” Kurt replied, waving him in the direction of the door. Blaine’s tone sounded … Kurt wasn’t going to over think things, he wasn’t, but it certainly wasn’t the cheerful tone he’d used with Sugar.

He figured he should give Blaine some space, just in case, and threw on his shirt, heading to the kitchen to busy himself with making coffee. He heard his bathroom door open just as the pot began to brew, and Blaine must have noticed the smell. “I wasn’t sure if you’d have a coffee pot, with the way you keep Intelligentsia in business with your daily nonfat mocha.” Blaine rounded the corner from the bedroom, fully dressed and fussing with his hair some more – it looked as if he’d run some water through it. Kurt hadn’t heard the shower, and there hadn’t been enough time.

He took a moment to process Blaine’s words. Wait. “You know my coffee order?” he asked, perplexed. He always picked up his coffee himself, and then had refills throughout the day from the office coffee machine, but he couldn’t remember a time he discussed his coffee habits with Blaine, even though they’d run into each other a few times before work at Intelligentsia.

“Of course I do,” Blaine answered as Kurt turned to grab two mugs from his top shelf. “I should probably go, get out of your hair. I’m sure you have a busy day planned.”

Kurt paused, setting the second mug back. Blaine probably hadn’t seen, the cabinet door in the way – and when Kurt turned back around, he was sure of it. Blaine wasn’t even looking in his direction. He was suddenly very interested in his shoes. “Oh,” Kurt said, unsure of what to say. Do not make this any more awkward than it has to be, he thought to himself. “Uh. Sure. You want any coffee before you go?”

Blaine shook his head, still avoiding Kurt’s gaze. “Nah, I’ll be fine. Thanks for the offer, though. See you at the office tomorrow?” He finally looked up, briefly, and headed for the door before Kurt had even responded.

Kurt tried to school his face into a neutral expression – the last thing he wanted to do was turn into the crazy guy who wanted something more out of a one night stand when the other didn’t, especially when he was Blaine’s boss. “Yeah. Tomorrow. Thanks for ... everything,” he finished lamely, locking the door behind Blaine as he left.

He couldn’t get out of there fast enough, Kurt thought bitterly.