Falling in love with Blaine did not happen all at once. The crush did, though, and with it came the swooning and the pining that kept Kurt awake at night and seriously threatened his grades, but that subsided after a while. Then, it completely died after Valentine’s Day, along with any interest Kurt might have had for GAP.
What followed was the slow and steady realization that once he stripped away the idealized version of Blaine he’d built over the months in his head, Kurt rediscovered his best friend and found something steadier and stronger than any crush he could have entertained. It happened slowly, then, over the course of the months. It kind of snuck up on Kurt, to be honest.
Let’s start from the beginning: Blaine Anderson is the single most ridiculous person to ever walk on the face of the Earth, and that’s including everyone in McKinley’s glee club and Mr. Schuester. Blaine is something like one-quarter-puppy, one-quarter-ADHD-four-year-old and half-nineteenth-century-gentleman with eyes too big for his face.
And Kurt is in love with that.
It’s more than love, actually. It’s deeply rooted affection, the kind that makes his heart swell and gives him the urge to wrap Blaine up in a blanket at keep him forever. Like a puppy or a four-year-old, both of which he never thought he’d compare to his love interest and yet there he is, sitting in front of a teenage boy with a drip of ice cream down his chin because he’s too busy animatedly talking about his favourite movie to notice it and Kurt is wondering where exactly the dark and brooding man of his dreams went.
“No, no, don’t interrupt me, I haven’t reached the good part yet,” Blaine exclaims, moving his hands wildly and flinging melted ice cream and chocolate syrup on the table with his spoon.
“Blaine, there’s ice cream on your chin.”
“What? Oh.” He grins sheepishly and then sticks out his tongue to try and lick it off, missing it by a good inch.
Kurt watches him for a few seconds, debating whether this should turn him on or make him laugh; he might be treated with an eyeful of Blaine’s tongue and its flexibility - which he’s well-acquainted with, mind you - but Blaine is being ridiculous again and it’s hard to keep a straight face.
“Here, let me—” Kurt reaches forward to wipe it off with his thumb. His brain catches up with what he’s doing two seconds too late, his finger having already brushed against Blaine’s skin to clean it. He retreats his hand quickly and clears his throat. “Sorry about that.”
“It’s alright,” Blaine says softly, smiling. “That’s your job.”
Kurt squints. “Taking care of you?”
“Making sure I don’t look like an idiot.”
“This is quite a daunting task,” Kurt quips, holding back a smile.
“I know you can do it.” Blaine pauses and frowns. “Wait, was that an insult?”
Kurt smiles sweetly and takes a bite of his cheesecake. “Of course not. I’d never dare.”
“Good,” Blaine replies happily before spooning about half of his sundae into his mouth.
“I was being sarcastic, Blaine. It was an insult. I can’t believe you still can’t tell whether I’m serious or not.”
Blaine rolls his eyes. “Whatever. You’d be bored without me.”
Kurt smiles tightly, his eyes darting around the room to avoid Blaine’s, finally stopping on the crumbs left from his slice of cake in his plate. Bored isn’t really the first thing that comes to mind when he tries to imagine what his life would look like if he hadn’t met Blaine.
“You okay? Did I say something wrong?” Blaine reaches across the table, his hand coming to rest on Kurt’s arm, the most affectionate they let themselves be in public.
“No, no, I’m fine. Sorry, I was just—” Kurt shrugs. “I’m just really glad I have you.”
Blaine preens, his contagious grin prompting a small smile from Kurt. “Well, Kurt Hummel, you’ve just earned yourself the last spoonful of my sundae.”
“I really didn’t,” Kurt says, eyeing Blaine warily.
“Ah, come on! You can’t say stuff like that and expect nothing in return! Open up.”
Kurt presses his lips together and shakes his head as Blaine quirks his eyebrow and moves the spoon toward him.
“Blaine, do—” Kurt begins, his words muffled by the spoon Blaine shoved in his mouth the second he started talking. “This didn’t just happen,” Kurt deadpans when he’s done swallowing, eyes wide and cheeks on fire.
“I’m afraid it has.”
“We’re in a restaurant, Blaine! You cannot spoon-feed me in public! What is wrong with you?”
“Was it good?”
“The sundae. Was it good?”
Kurt stares at Blaine in disbelief. “Yes, but that’s not the point.”
“That’s exactly the point.”
“I can’t believe I’m in love with you.” Kurt sighs and shakes his head, his smile contradicting his words.
“Neither can I. I lucked out.”
“So did I.”
To say Kurt is nervous would be an understatement. Blaine has invited him to the Lima Bean after school. Blaine Anderson invited him, Kurt Hummel, on a coffee date. Not via text message, but by calling him. Who even calls people nowadays? Blaine does. His friend Blaine. His date - oh my god could it be? - Blaine.
“You’re quiet, today. Are you okay?” Mercedes asks him as they make their way to glee rehearsal.
“I’m fine.” His voice is breathy and thin, his nerves running on overdrive. At this point, his stress probably has anxiety issues. It’s surprising he hasn’t started crying or laughing hysterically, yet.
Mercedes hums skeptically, but she doesn’t push. Of course she doesn’t push. No one inquires about what he’s going through. They have to know Karofsky is giving him hell, right? They can’t possibly be so self-centred as to have missed the fact that one of their own is in trouble. They’re his friends, after all. Friends look after each other. That’s why he spent an entire Saturday last year shopping with an irritated and insulting Quinn for maternity clothes. For the sake of friendship.
If he’s being honest, though, and ignoring the knot in his stomach and the bitter taste it brings to his mouth, they surely haven’t noticed. That, or the potential of attention they can give him has all been used when his father had his heart attack and now he’s shit out of luck and they moved on to the next episode of New Directions’ soap opera.
Kurt shakes the dark thoughts away. Today is not a day for ruminating. Today, he has something that could possibly be a date with an incredibly attractive boy who sang a Katy Perry song in front of his entire school while staring at him the whole time. He bites back a smile as he sits down between Mercedes and Sam, putting his bag down underneath his chair so he doesn’t spend the entire hour clutching it as his nerves keep digging a tunnel through his sanity to try and reach his brain’s panic center.
He’s out of the door as soon as Mr. Schuester sends them off, blurting out an excuse to Mercedes to explain why he won’t drive her home and ignoring Finn’s questions. He has no idea what the lesson was about and he doesn’t particularly care, nor does he mind if his friends think that he’s lost his mind or that he’s rushing to the washroom because of intestinal problems. In twenty minutes, he will be having coffee with Blaine Anderson.
Blaine is already there when he arrives and he visibly perks up when Kurt walks in. Kurt makes some vague hand motions to tell him he’s going to get a drink before joining him and Blaine laughs and nods before leaning back in his chair.
After waiting in line for what feels like two millennium, which he spends impatiently tapping his foot, Kurt sit in front of Blaine at the small table, pushing a plate with two biscotti on it toward him.
“I bought you one, I don’t know if you like?” Kurt bites his lip when he realizes he hasn’t even greeted Blaine properly. “Also, hi,” he adds shyly and a little breathlessly.
“Hi,” Blaine says warmly, reaching for one of the pastries while frowning at it. “I never tried, no, but I’ve always been curious. Is it good?”
“It’s kinda dry unless you dip it in your coffee,” Kurt explains, taking off the lid of his own with shaking hands to show Blaine. His nerves only intensify when Blaine follows his movements closely, only looking away when their eyes meet as Kurt sucks the biscotti into his mouth. “Hum, yeah. Like that.”
Blaine purses his lips and nods before repeating Kurt’s actions, his eyes widening with appreciation after he shoved half the biscuit into his mouth.
“That’s amazing, Kurt. Thank you.”
He smiles and Kurt bring his cup to his lips to hide his blush, crossing his legs under the table and brushing Blaine’s calf with his foot by mistake.
Blaine shrugs and waves his hand dismissively. “So, how was your day?”
It takes Kurt five minutes of telling Blaine about his day to completely let go and start acting like he’s with Mercedes, all attempts at impressing Blaine gone and replaced by a comfortable feeling of familiarity. Blaine is an amazing listener, reacting at all the right moments and asking questions that make Kurt go on tangents for minutes on end before he laughs self-consciously as he tries to remember where he was in his story.
By the time he’s done talking, having covered his life up to the point where he performed Le Jazz Hot by himself - that’s something he’ll keep to himself, a part of him is still definitely trying to impress Blaine - his coffee has gone cold. He scrunches up his nose when he takes a sip.
“It’s cold. It doesn’t matter.”
“What was it? I’ll buy you another one.” Blaine is already out of his seat, reaching into his pocket for his wallet.
“You really don’t have to, Blaine.”
“Hey, it’s my fault you couldn’t drink it and you bought me food. It’s nothing, I promise. So, what was it?”
“Nonfat mocha, but Blaine—”
“I’ll be right back,” Blaine says warmly. He winks before leaving and Kurt’s stomach somersaults.
Kurt bites his lip to stop a grin from spreading on his face, his heart thumping and his cheeks on fire. He digs into his pocket for his phone, but changes his mind at the last second. He doesn’t want to tell Mercedes yet. He wants to keep Blaine his secret for a while longer, just a few days, until he can’t contain it anymore and tells her everything, gushing and giggling over this perfect boy he met. For the moment, though, he wants to keep Blaine to himself.
Blaine comes back a few minutes later, placing the cup in front of Kurt with a flourish. He sits back in front of Kurt, looking at him in a way that makes Kurt’s skin prick. His eyes are soft and focused on Kurt, a small smile plays on his lips, and with the late afternoon light coming in through the window, he looks gorgeous enough to take Kurt’s breath away.
“Thank you,” Kurt says earnestly, taking a sip and looking at Blaine through his eyelashes.
“Your turn. Tell me about your day.”
By their third cup of coffee, they’ve gone back in time to stories from their early teens. Blaine skipped over freshman year of high school and Kurt didn’t push, instead diving straight into the story of how he realized he was gay in middle school thanks to a sub who looked like George Clooney before moving on to when he came out.
Kurt giggles and shakes his head. “My father only said ‘I know’. I’d been pretending to be straight for years and even lied about dating one of my friends and all he had to say was that he knew. I was devastated.”
“What about your mother?” Blaine gives a small smile and a shrug, both lop-sided.
Kurt presses his lips together. “She died when I was a kid. I think she knew, though. I mean, I guess I was always obvious, even before I could understand what I was. It took me a while to realize that what I was feeling had a name and that people could use it against me. I thought liking boys was normal until I was very clearly told it’s not.” Kurt squares his jaw and shoulders, trying to keep his face a mask of placidity even as he’s dragged back into the reality of what happens daily. He had managed to forget for a while, thanks to Blaine, but now it’s coming back and he feels his mood dropping. “And well, my face doesn’t really help either.”
“I’m sorry for your mother.” Blaine takes a sip of coffee. “It sucks that people assume things based on looks. I mean, I don’t exactly look the part, so I don’t know how it is for you, but sometimes I wonder if it’s easier.”
Kurt considers being offended for a second because Blaine basically told him he has a gay face, but the bitterness in Blaine’s voice keeps the anger at bay. “It’s not really a blessing.”
Blaine shrugs again, rolling his eyes. “Maybe not, but you don’t have to come out all the time. Every single person I meet, I have to tell them. It’s exhausting. You’re spared that.”
Kurt squints. “I don’t think there’s an easy way out of this.”
“Cheers,” Blaine says sombrely and clinks his cup against Kurt’s. “I’m glad I met someone who understands.” Blaine pauses and looks out the window, his brows furrowing for a moment. “My friends at Dalton are great, but they don’t get it, you know?”
Kurt thinks about Mercedes, Rachel and the other glee kids. He nods. “I know.”
“I know you do,” Blaine replies and he bumps his foot against Kurt’s.
“Sometimes I wonder if my friends don’t ignore it on purpose. Like it’s easier to pretend it’s not happening.”
“Maybe they don’t know what to do to help?”
“Anything would help.” Kurt sighs. “Just thinking about going back tomorrow makes me feel sick.”
Their eyes meet and Blaine smiles softly. Something stirs in Kurt’s stomach as electricity courses through his body, the back of his neck tingling as his heartbeat quickens. He thinks idly that if his life were a romantic flick, this would be the moment when Blaine takes his hand and leans over the table to kiss him softly. Kurt licks his lip and Blaine’s eyes flicker down. It breaks the contact and Kurt snaps back to reality, his head spinning from the influx of oxygen to his brain when he breathes in sharply.
“Okay, what about this: we’ll meet up here again tomorrow. This way, you’ll have something to look forward to?”
Kurt stares at him for a second, his mind reeling because he can’t quite believe this is his life. “I’d love that,” he breathes out.
“You’ve got yourself a deal, then, Mister—” Blaine trails off and quirks his eyebrow.
They shake hands, Blaine’s grip strong and comforting. “It’s Anderson, by the way. My last name. In case you were wondering.”
Kurt smiles and he wonders if Blaine is going to spend his evening stalking Kurt on Facebook like he plans on doing himself.
“Are you going to let go of my hand? My mother’s expecting me for dinner.”
Kurt withdraws it like he’s been burned and lets out a nervous laugh which he disguises in a quiet cough. “I’ll see you tomorrow?” he asks, looking up at Blaine as he puts his coat on.
“On my honour, Mr. Hummel.”
Blaine winks and then he’s gone, leaving Kurt rooted to his chair with his heart thumping in his chest and if Kurt swooned after the wink, he’ll deny it for the rest of his life. No one can prove it.
“What’s our itinerary?”
Kurt looks up from the list he carefully prepared over the past month, every item on it the perfect Christmas present for someone he loves. Outside, a snowstorm is raging and making the visibility almost nill and Kurt would have cancelled their plans, but Christmas is in five days and he still hasn’t bought anything, thanks to Dalton eating up all of his time.
“I have a map somewhere in my bag, hold on.”
“A ma—what did I get myself into?” Blaine glances away from the road to look at Kurt with wide, panicked eyes.
“You don’t just venture into a mall for Christmas shopping without a plan, Blaine, unless you like wasting your time. I, personally, don’t.”
“Fair enough, but—wait, is that map colour-coded?”
Kurt shakes his head and sighs. “You still have so much to learn, Blaine.” Kurt looks up and sees Blaine staring at him in disbelief. “Oh my god, keep your eyes on the road!”
Blaine chuckles, but does not bring back the subject, instead going back to his detailed explanation of what he would do if they get snowed in at the mall. Kurt listens to him with a smile. He loves him so much.
Because yes, he can’t deny it anymore, he’s in love with Blaine. It has to be love. It’s different than it was with Finn - oh god, why did he think of that again, he had almost forgotten - and it only gets stronger every time he sees Blaine.
Kurt glances at Blaine’s profile, letting out a small sigh as he studies the curve of his nose and the strong line of his jaw, his furrowed brows as he concentrates on the road. His fingers are gripping the wheel tight, his knuckles white from the stress he’s putting on them.
“Thank you,” Kurt says, looking away to stare out of the windshield.
“What for?” Blaine looks at Kurt out of the corner of his eyes.
“For accompanying me in this weather.”
Blaine shrugs one shoulder and flashes Kurt a wide grin. “My pleasure.” He lets go of the steering for a second to pat Kurt’s thigh.
Kurt turns his head away and bites back a smile. Blaine needs to warn him before he begins flirting because Kurt’s heart cannot take this too often. The way it skipped a beat and then started racing is surely unhealthy. There are heart problems in his family. He could die and at his funeral, they would have to say he died because a boy flirted with him and that would just be uncomfortable for everyone. He doesn’t want to put his father through this.
Finding a parking spot takes them nearly twenty minutes, the snowstorm making people act like they never experienced winter conditions before and turning the parking lot into something out of a Nintendo racing game. They finally secure one that feels like it’s a mile away from the entrance, something Blaine apologizes for all the way through the parking lot.
Kurt shakes the snow out of his hair and off his coat when they finally get in, jumping a little on the spot and rubbing his hands together to unfreeze them. The snow melting in Blaine’s hair is washing away some of his gel and curls are appearing at his temples and on his forehead. Kurt smiles at the sight and then ducks his head when Blaine returns the smile, his cheeks red and his eyes gleaming from the cold outside.
Kurt wants to kiss Blaine, something that’s been happening more and more in the past weeks. He wants to grab his face and kiss him until his lips are red and swollen and he’s—no. Blaine is his friend. His best friend. He’s not going there.
“Where are we going first?”
“Hum.” Kurt takes out his map and unfolds it, trying to remember where he had planned to start. Blaine walks closer, pressing his arm against Kurt’s to read the map. He’s too close and he smells like cold air and Kurt can feel his breath on his cheek. He’s finding it hard to concentrate with Blaine this close to him and he can’t even remember how to read his own colour-codes. He points one at random, landing on the sports store he needs to visit for Finn. “There.”
“Finn’s present, I presume?”
Kurt nods and heaves a breath when Blaine steps back, taking the lead towards and pausing a few feet later to check if Kurt is following. Kurt hurries to meet up with him and Blaine’s smile is radiant before he begins telling Kurt about that one year his father bought his mother a slow cooker for Christmas and how they still hear about it years later.
“She locked herself in their room and refused to come out until my father had proven he doesn’t think she’s only good at feeding him. My brother, my dad and I had to make Christmas dinner by ourselves. I don’t think my father had ever used the stove before, I was six years old and my brother was about as useless as my father, but with teenage angst on top. It was awful.”
“That bad?” Kurt asks, smirking over the rack of sports jersey he’s sifting through.
“Actually, not really. We ordered takeout. In the end it was good, though. My father got more involved with family life, for a while at least.” Blaine sighs and shrugs, his smile fading. “Anyway. Finding anything?”
“They don’t seem to have anything left in size T-Rex. I’ll have to improvise.” Blaine nods and when Kurt notices he still looks deflated, he bites his lips, rummaging his brain for a way to cheer him up. “You know, your story isn’t so bad. The first time my father tried to cook chicken, it was still raw when he served it. As soon as I was tall enough to reach the stove top, I took control of our diet.”
“You’re really close to him, aren’t you?” Blaine asks softly.
Kurt pauses his search for paraphernalia Finn might like to look at Blaine, who’s standing by his side with his arms crossed over his chest. The way he’s standing makes him look smaller than usual, more vulnerable, too.
“We’re close, yes. It was only the two of us for nearly a decade, after all. I’m really lucky he’s so—” Kurt trails off when he sees Blaine frowning. He doesn’t know all the details about Blaine’s family, yet, but the little he knows led him to the conclusion that Blaine and his father don’t have a good relationship, if they have a relationship at all. “Did you—hum. Did you want to get anything for your brother? I’ll get Finn a video game, I can’t find anything here.”
“No, he’s not coming over for Christmas. He has things to do in LA.”
Kurt presses his lips together and nods, leading the way out of the store and heading for the next stop on his map, Blaine following silently. It takes three more stores for him to cheer up again, and he only does so when he finds a rack of bow ties. He strokes a deep red one with the tip of his fingers and Kurt steps closer, hugging the shirts he’s buying his father to his chest.
“Very good choice. The colour is amazing,” Kurt comments.
Blaine turns his head to look at him and nods. “I know, right?” He tears his eyes away from it and shakes his head. “I already own too many. Let’s move on.”
Kurt mock-gasps, putting his hand to his heart. “That’s nonsense, Blaine Anderson. You can never own too many bow ties. Not when they certainly look—” Kurt trails off before he blurts out something about how attractive Blaine is and how that must be increased when he wears a bow tie. He clears his throat. “You should try it on.”
Before Blaine can protest again, Kurt takes the bow tie off the rack and hands it to him.
Blaine rolls his eyes and shakes his head. “Fine. Tie it for me?”
Blaine is looking at him expectantly, his eyebrows raised and his lips slightly parted, the hint of a smile stretching them.
“Seriously, you’re like a child,” Kurt comments with a roll of his eyes, which only broadens Blaine’s smile. He should add ‘constantly smiling’ to the list of Disney prince assets Blaine possesses, a list he’s been working on for weeks and which already contains ‘sings like a dream,’ ‘Dalton looks like a castle if you squint,’ and ‘his eyes!!!’ among other things. It’s a list he’s quite proud of, but that he’ll never get to show anyone. He has a reputation.
Kurt puts the shirts down on a nearby display table and takes a step closer to tug Blaine’s scarf off before opening his coat wider. He focuses on making sure his fingers obey him so he doesn’t realize what he’s doing as he circles his arms around Blaine’s neck to tuck the bow tie under the collar of his shirt. Trailing his fingers along the hard edge of the collar, he grabs the ends of the tie and resolutely stares at it while he knots it, resisting the urge to stare at Blaine’s mouth.
“I love the smell of your cologne,” Blaine whispers, looking up at Kurt through his eyelashes.
“Don’t mess up my concentration,” Kurt replies tersely. Stupid Blaine standing stupidly close to him, how the hell is he supposed to be anything but stupid himself and make a decent knot?
The technique to tie a bow tie is one Kurt learned at a very young age. He could do it with his eyes closed and behind his back while riding a unicycle to escape from crocodiles. He’s good at it. It figures that the only thing that could make him forget how to do it is the sight of Blaine’s eyelashes fawned against his cheeks, the faint stubble on his jaw, and all those details which he sees for the first time due to standing ridiculously close to Blaine. He has freckles. How is that even fair?
“There you go,” Kurt finally says, his voice a bit hoarse. When he takes his eyes off the tie, Kurt finds Blaine’s eyes on him. It makes him duck his head and take a step back.
“Yeah?” Blaine asks, turning around in search of a mirror.
“Yes. Take this off and go see for yourself.” Kurt grabs Blaine’s coat by the lapels and pulls it off his shoulders, watching him go check himself out in one of the changing room mirrors. He meets up with him and Blaine grins at Kurt’s reflection.
“It looks amazing, but I really shouldn’t buy it.”
“If you don’t, I don’t think we can be friends anymore.”
“I still shouldn’t.” Blaine begins undoing the bow tie before taking back his coat. “My parents might kick me out if I spend any more money on clothes I can’t wear because of the uniform.”
“Alright, then, it’ll be my Christmas present to you.”
“No. Seriously, Kurt, no. Have you seen the price on that thing?”
“Hush. It’s my pleasure. It’s the least I can do for you.”
“Thank you so much,” Blaine blurts out before pulling Kurt into a hug. Kurt tenses and freezes for a second, his breath hitching in shock. Just as he’s about to return the hug, Blaine steps back and blushes, scratching the back of his neck. “Yeah—hum. Thanks.”
A pat on the shoulder is the only reaction Kurt can come up with and they stand in uncomfortable silence in the middle of the store. When a few minutes ago conversation flowed easily, there seems to have been a shift that paralysed both of them and rendered them mute. Kurt’s mind is running in circles trying to find something to say to break the ice, but all he can come up with are thoughts about how pretty Blaine is, and how much he loves this boy who seems completely blown away to have a friend give him a present.
Okay, now he’s in love with Blaine. Kurt might have told Mr. Schuester he was in love with Blaine back in December, but the realization that he really is hits him one afternoon while revising with Blaine in the seniors’ common during their lunch break.
What he had until then was a crush. An intense crush, but one nonetheless. And then, at once, he fell in love and of all the things that could have caused this, it had to be a piece of clothing. Of course it was a piece of clothing.
Kurt’s been at Dalton for months now and he still doesn’t quite understand why Blaine, a sophomore, has access to the seniors’ common room, but he’s not about to question it, it only took one glance at the juniors’ and sophomores’ to convince him that he never wants to go back there ever again. This is what he’s pondering as he enters the room and scans it to find Blaine.
When he spots him, and more importantly when he sees what’s around his neck, Kurt stalks through the room and slides in the chair next to his, dropping his bag on the floor loudly enough to make Blaine look up.
“Is that a bow tie?” Kurt asks nonchalantly, eyeing the red and blue tie with envy. It’s gorgeous and he had no idea they could switch between ties and bow ties, why the hell didn’t he know about that, this is unfair.
Blaine looks up from his book, his face all wide eyes and stupidly charming smile, killing all attempts Kurt might have at being cool and composed.
Okay, it might be the bow tie’s fault that he realized he’s in love with Blaine, but not seeing him for nearly three weeks played a part in it, too. He missed him, despite their incessant texting. Seeing him for the first time in so long paired with that stupid bow tie and his stupid smile and his stupid eyes was enough to rekindle and intensify whatever Kurt was feeling for him. Distance does make the heart grow fonder, apparently.
Fine, they also texted almost non-stop during the Christmas break and they might have exchanged ‘xoxo’ on New Year’s Eve, but Kurt was tipsy off mousseux and Blaine had been waxing lyrical about his grandmother’s eggnog so it doesn’t count, right?
“Yes! What do you think?”
“Very cute.” Kurt’s eyes widen as panic alarms go off in his head. “The bow tie, I mean. It’s—cute. It suits you.”
Blaine preens, his smile broadening. “I’m glad you like it.”
Kurt returns his smile before ducking his head to avoid Blaine’s eyes and retrieves his homework assignment. “What if I didn’t like it?”
“I’d stop wearing it,” Blaine says seriously.
Blaine chuckles and rolls his eyes. “You’re my best friend, Kurt. You’re the only person I know who will be completely honest with me when I look like an idiot.”
“How can you be so sure I’ll always be honest?”
“I trust you.”
Kurt holds Blaine’s eyes and it’s one of those moments that could convince him there’s more than friendship between them. Kurt gives Blaine a lop-sided smile before shifting his attention to his textbook, flipping through it without the faintest idea of the page he’s supposed to work on.
“I didn’t know bow ties were an option for our uniform,” Kurt comments after a few minutes.
Blaine hums and looks up from his book, a sheepish smile on his lips. “Not exactly. I’m pitching the idea to the Warblers. You know, to maybe refresh our competition look a little? Our uniforms are dreary and we need that extra-humph if we want to beat New Directions.” Blaine pauses and gives Kurt an apologetic look. “So yeah, anyway, I’m wearing it to show them tonight.”
“And the administration lets you,” Kurt deadpans, staring at Blaine levelly as jealousy ripples through him. It’s stupid, really, it’s only a bow tie and yet Kurt is upset that Blaine is allowed this minute change to their uniform while he’s stuck within the predetermined boundaries of variation they’re allowed.
“I told them it was a Warblers thing. They turned a blind-eye for now,” Blaine replies with a shrug and a tug on the ends of his tie.
“So, it’s only for a little while?”
“I guess I could wear it longer if I wanted to. It’s not like they’re going to expel their best chance at winning Regionals because of a change I made to my uniform.”
Blaine is the only person Kurt has ever met who manages to say something like that without sounding self-absorbed. Coming from him, it sounds like it’s the obvious truth: it makes him uncomfortable, but he deals with it.
“You look upset,” Blaine says softly when Kurt stays silent for a while. He puts his hand over Kurt’s for a second before letting go. “I could always convince them to let you wear one if you want.”
“It’s not the point.” Blaine’s eyebrows shoot up. “I miss being me. This uniform is stifling. This school is stifling. I miss McKinley.”
“But you’re safe, here. Isn’t that better?”
“I’m not sure anymore.”
Blaine rubs Kurt’s forearm through his jacket before squeezing his hand briefly. “I’m there if you need to talk about it, you know that, right?”
“Of course, Blaine.”
This is the moment when Kurt falls in love. As he looks at Blaine and sees nothing but earnest interest in what he’ saying, Kurt feels his heart swell about two sizes bigger. He has found someone who truly cares for him, not because he might get something about of it but because he’s genuinely concerned for Kurt and it brings tears to his eyes. Rachel had said - back in another life it seems now - that Kurt was lonely, but that he was not alone and now he can finally begin to believe her. He gives Blaine a watery smile and laughs it off as he wipes his eyes.
“Coffee’s on me, tonight,” Blaine says with one more squeeze to Kurt’s arm. “If I survive the Warblers’ council, that is.”
“I think I’ll be paying for my own coffee, then,” Kurt replies dryly, his voice still a bit shaky.
“Hey, it’s a good idea! No? Bow ties are great, everyone knows that.”
“Uh-huh,” Kurt says airily. “We’ll see about that.”
Blaine squeezes Kurt’s hand one last time, holding on tightly to it for a few seconds before letting go and focusing on his work.
(The Warblers politely but firmly tell Blaine that his bow tie idea will not be adopted. They let him down softly because it’s Blaine and no one can get angry at him, not when he’s making that face with those eyes that just plead to be loved and listened. Kurt spends their entire coffee - date? - hour comforting Blaine that bow ties are actually as cool as he thinks they are and Thad is just lying to himself. Their feet remain pressed together the entire time.)
“Alright, I’ve got the popcorn, the first ever Anderson-Hummel slumber party is officially on.”
“Hummel-Anderson,” Kurt says, shifting against the mound of pillows and cushions Blaine put on his bed to get more comfortable. He watches Blaine crossing the room, smiling when their eyes meet.
Blaine frowns as he climbs on the bed on his knees and crawls to sit next to Kurt. “What?”
“Hummel-Anderson sounds better than Anderson-Hummel.”
Blaine shrugs, popping a piece of popcorn in his mouth. “I was going by alphabetical order. I didn’t really think about it.”
Kurt bites his lip. He has. He has thought about how they would hyphenate their names if they got married. He’s also come up with possible names for their babies and he might have looked at condos and lofts in New York with multiple bedrooms, but that was only once and he was bored. They’re not even dating.
“Well, it does sound better. You can’t argue with that.”
“As you wish.” Blaine chuckles and reaches over Kurt’s legs for the remote, pressing play before dropping back into the pillows, his arm pressed against Kurt’s.
“And it’s not our first,” Kurt continues, reaching over to grab popcorn and ignoring the way his hand bumps against Blaine’s.
“We said we were not talking about that time.”
“What, you don’t enjoy the memory of waking up to my father flipping out?”
“He did not.”
“Not while you were there, no. Hummels have manners. We don’t wash our dirty laundry in public, even if that public is a hungover teenager.”
Kurt thinks bitterly that the lecture his father gave him would have been easier to digest if he’d done those things with Blaine instead of keeping watch all night to make sure he didn’t throw up and choke to death.
Blaine pushes Kurt with his shoulder and throws popcorn at him.
“Why are we talking about this? I thought we had an agreement.”
“The agreement is moot if I get to make fun of you.”
Kurt throws popcorn right back at him and Blaine gasps before retaliating.
“Stop it,” Blaine says through his laughter when Kurt drops a handful down the front of his shirt. “You’re going to get butter all over my bedspread!”
“It’s from Ikea, Blaine, I honestly don’t care.” Kurt nonetheless lets go of the large handful of popcorn he was about to throw in Blaine’s face and helps him clean up, quiet giggles still shaking him from time to time when he sees Blaine shake his shirt over the bowl.
After cleaning up they settle down to watch movies, sitting so close Kurt can feel every movement Blaine makes, even the smallest ones. He finds it hard to pay attention to what they’re watching, even if their selection was carefully made so they could objectify the actors just because they can say those things when they’re together. Kurt doesn’t really do it and neither does Blaine, but it’s liberating to know that if they want to comment on Channing Tatum’s abs, they can.
Kurt shifts to reach for his glass of water and his hip presses on the remote, the volume going up until the sound is almost deafening. Blaine curses and leans over Kurt to grab it and mute the television, but it’s too late. His mother is already knocking on the door, telling them to go to bed. She sounds tired and angry so Blaine does not hesitate to turn off the television and shut the light, apologizing to his mother.
Kurt waits until her footsteps have receded before he speaks. “Where am I sleeping?”
The sound of bedsheets rustling tells Kurt that Blaine is slipping under the covers. “Right here?”
“Won’t it cause a fuss? Things could happen.”
“Unless you plan on molesting me, I don’t think anything will happen. Don’t worry, my parents would have to acknowledge the fact that I’m gay to say anything. We’re fine.”
Kurt sighs and gets under the covers, his foot knocking against Blaine’s leg in the process.
“Sorry.” He manages to be silent for ten seconds before his nerves take over. “Aren’t we going to brush our teeth?”
“If we leave this room, we’re dead. It’s past two in the morning, Kurt. My mom sounded really angry.”
“I know. I was only asking.”
Kurt stares at the ceiling as he waits for his eyes to adjust to the dark. Next to him, Blaine has rolled on his side, his head resting on his arm and his free hand barely an inch away from Kurt’s arm.
“I can’t sleep,” Blaine says softly, poking Kurt’s arm.
“It’s been five minutes, Blaine,” Kurt deadpans. He rolls on his side and finds Blaine closer than he expected. Blaine smiles and Kurt returns it.
Blaine reaches up and boops Kurt’s nose, “I know, but I’m not sleepy.”
Kurt bats Blaine’s hand away, glaring playfully while Blaine chuckles under his breath. “Me neither.”
Blaine hums and shifts his legs, his knees bumping against Kurt’s. Kurt returns the push, smirking when Blaine protests and pokes his belly. Kurt gasps and then Blaine is tickling his sides, Kurt’s cry of protests mixing with giggles as he tries to wriggle away from him. The sheets twist around his legs and he tries to tickle Blaine back, but he twists away and out of reach with a quiet cry of victory. The mattress creaks as they move and Kurt has a thought to how obscene it might sound to an outside observer.
“Boys!” Blaine’s father’s voice booms through the house, freezing them mid-movement.
They both hold their breath as they wait for the sound of footsteps coming closer, but it never comes. After ninety-five seconds - Kurt counted to try and ignore how Blaine is still gripping his bare sides, his shirt having ridden up due to his writhing - Blaine heaves out a sigh and flops off Kurt before lying once more on his side.
Kurt can feel sleep pulling him down before Blaine speaks again. He does so in a whisper so quiet Kurt wonders if he was supposed to hear it in the first place. “I’m sorry.”
Kurt sighs and rolls his eyes. Blaine and his constant apologizing are slowly driving him up the wall. It used to be cute, but now it’s becoming a bit irritating. “What for, this time?”
“For leading you on.”
Oh. Kurt gulps. “It’s okay.”
“It’s not.” Blaine breathes in shakily. “I like you, Kurt. A lot. I just don’t want to screw this up.”
“You said that already,” Kurt says dryly, his heart sinking. He really doesn’t want to have this conversation again.
“I know. I just want you to know that I mean it. Every word of it. I’m just—I still need to figure out things you’ve obviously dealt with months ago. I will catch up with you, but you have to give me time. Please.”
Kurt takes Blaine’s hand and squeezes it. “I can wait for you as long as you stop making out with girls.”
Blaine groans and hides his face in his pillow. “Sorry about that, too. God, I keep screwing up.”
“You’ve had better months.” When Blaine groans again, Kurt chuckles.
“I just hoped that maybe being with Rachel would solve everything. All this—” Blaine pauses and tightens his fingers around Kurt’s before heaving out a long sigh. “—this confusing situation with you and the way my parents behave, and just—everything. I don’t know, I guess I thought my parents would stop acting like family dinners are business meetings if I brought home a girl. I don’t want to be straight, but sometimes I think it would be simpler.”
“It would. I don’t want to be, but I’m not stupid enough to think my life wouldn’t be easier if I liked girls. It’s not like I didn’t try.”
Even in the dark, Kurt can see Blaine’s eyes widen. “What?”
Kurt laughs self-consciously, feeling his cheeks colour. “I, hum. I kind of dated Brittany? We made out once and that was it. She wanted to kiss every boy at school and I wanted to get my dad’s attention, so that happened.”
“So, when you told me you’d never had a kiss that counted...”
“That’s what I meant.”
“My first kiss was with my best friend from before I transferred to Dalton. We went to a dance together and we kissed while waiting for his parents to pick us up. Right there, in the parking lot. I don’t know what we were thinking.”
Kurt coos. “That’s adorable.”
“Not really. We never spoke again after that.”
“I’m sorry,” Kurt says, frowning. “He didn’t deserve you.”
Blaine lets out a dry laugh. “It’s not that simple.”
The crestfallen look he’s now sporting makes Kurt hesitate only for a second before he pulls Blaine closer, wrapping his arm around his shoulders and resting his head on top of his.
Blaine winds his arm around Kurt’s waist, snuggling into his chest.
“This isn’t weird. Why isn’t it weird?”
“It’s only weird if we decide it is,” Kurt says sharply. “I don’t want it to be. We’re friends who cuddle. That’s it.”
Blaine scoots even closer, splaying his hand over Kurt’s back and digging his fingers in. Kurt begins stroking up and down his back, making Blaine hum happily and tangle their legs together.
“I admire you so much,” Blaine says quietly.
Blaine shrugs, his nails scratching idly at the silk of Kurt’s shirt. “You’re who you are and you never doubt anything. Like, just now, you decided that you didn’t want this to be weird, so it’s not. You don’t just go with the flow. You make things happen for you.”
“It’s the only option for guys like us, Blaine. If I don’t demand respect, I won’t get it.”
“I don’t just mean that. You’re so—you.”
Kurt laughs self-consciously. “That doesn’t make sense.”
“Come on, you know you have a very strong personality, Kurt.”
“Okay, fine, I’m a bitch. You admire me for that?”
Blaine shrugs. “I just sort of let people steer me around. I don’t stand up for myself. I run away.”
Kurt presses a kiss to Blaine’s forehead before he can overthink it and change his mind. “Don’t put yourself down like that, Blaine. So, yes, you’re more easy-going. That only means people love you more. There are not many people that like me, Blaine. Even my friends probably can’t stand me most of the time. I’m well aware that I’m a better-dressed, male version of Rachel Berry. What does that say about me, hm?”
“That’s not what I meant.”
Kurt pulls back to look at Blaine, keeping his arm loosely wrapped around his shoulders so he doesn’t misinterprets this as Kurt pushing him away. Blaine is frowning and gnawing at his bottom lip, his eyes fleeting and avoiding Kurt’s.
“What is it, Blaine?”
“I don’t do things. And when I do, I make a fool of myself and, like, get someone fired. Everything seems so easy for you, Kurt, and I’m just constantly fighting to try and get things right.”
Kurt mirrors Blaine’s frown. He doesn’t know what to say to get Blaine out the blues he’s sunk in. He’s not usually the one doing the comforting with Blaine. He always has the right thing to say, even if he doesn’t believe he can do things right, but Kurt is at a loss for what to say.
It is true that Blaine isn’t very daring. He stays within his routine and rarely steps out to try anything even remotely new. Kurt has always loved it because Blaine is a constant in the mayhem that his friends are. Blaine remains the same, no matter what happens. It’s comforting.
“Is there something you want to do right now? Something you’re afraid to mess up?” Kurt asks softly, resisting the urge to brush a stray curl out of Blaine’s forehead.
“Kiss you. I’ve been wanting to kiss you since we met.”
Kurt lets out a shaky breath, his mind reeling with Blaine’s words and the images they brought back from deep within his late night fantasies, the ones he feels filthy for entertaining.
“Why don’t you?” he says before he can stop it and he clamps a hand over his mouth. “I mean. Why—oh god, there’s no way to make this question sound right, please tell me you understand what I mean.”
Blaine smiles sadly and nods. “I do. And I don’t because I don’t want to screw this up.”
“Screw what up, Blaine?” Kurt snaps.
“Us! I don’t want to ruin our friendship because I was too eager to—to move forward. You’re too precious to me to risk losing you. I want to make sure we do this right.”
“You’re not going to lose me, Blaine,” Kurt says sharply. Blaine is just being preposterous and making excuses to deflect why they’re not already dating like everyone has been expecting them to since November.
“Really? Say we start dating now. I kiss you and we start dating. And say I realize after a while that I only like you as a friend? A very good, very close friend, but just a friend? I’m going to break your heart, Kurt, and you’ll never forgive me. And I’ll lose you.”
Kurt rolls on his back and away from Blaine. He stares at the ceiling for a while, not knowing what to reply. Blaine is right. He’s absolutely right and it makes Kurt angry because this is not what he wanted to hear.
“Then why do you want to kiss me?” he finally asks.
“Wanting to kiss you doesn’t correlate with being in love with you.”
Kurt huffs, crossing his arms over his chest. “Gee, thank you.”
“No, wait, it’s a good thing. You have amazing lips, Kurt, and I’m a teenage boy, so, you know, I think things I can’t control. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like you or will never love you, you know. It’s just—”
“You’re not good with words, Blaine, I hope you know that,” Kurt deadpans, the corners of his lips twitching into a smirk. He gets it. He hates what Blaine is saying, but he understands why and it’ll take a while, but eventually he’ll be able to accept it.
“I know,” he drawls, finishing on a yawn. “Are we okay? You’re not mad at me?”
Kurt pulls the covers up to his chin before turning on his side to face Blaine once more. “We are okay,” he breathes out, smiling. “This is the point of sleepovers: brutally honest late night conversations. You didn’t make anything weird. I know you won’t dare ask me in case it makes things even weirder. I know you, Blaine Warbler. And trust me, you didn’t.”
Blaine smiles sheepishly and nudges his foot against Kurt’s shin. “Goodnight, Kurt.”
The next morning Kurt wakes up with Blaine’s breath warm on the back of his neck and his arm wrapped tightly around his waist and he feels like changing his mind about not being mad at Blaine for taking his time falling in love.
Kurt sinks his teeth into his bottom lip to try and hold back the grin he can feel growing against his will. Blaine is sitting opposite him on his bed, a similar look on his face. They’re not touching, they’re not talking, they’re only sitting a few inches apart with matching grins and nervous energy making them shake.
“So,” Kurt begins before stopping because he’s giggling. “Sorry, nerves.”
“So,” Blaine repeats. “ I kissed you.”
Kurt laughs some more and bites down harder on his lip to try and stifle it. He takes a deep, calming breath before he speaks again. “You did. And I kissed you back.”
“Several times.” Blaine nods emphatically. “Where does that leave us?”
Kurt shrugs before reaching for Blaine’s hand, pressing their palms together and entwining their fingers. “One step ahead of where we were two hours ago, I hope.”
Blaine looks down at their hands and nods, squeezing Kurt’s fingers between his. “I hope so, too.” He scoots closer until their knees are touching.
“Are we boyfriends?” Kurt asks in a whisper, looking up from their hands to stare into Blaine’s eyes. “I’d like us to be boyfriends.”
“Me too,” and it’s Blaine’s turn to laugh, his eyes crinkling and his teeth showing.
Kurt feels the familiar urge to kiss him rise in him, but then it hits him that he can, so he does, leaning forward and pressing his lips to Blaine’s open mouth. It cuts his laughter short and then Blaine is kissing back, his free hand cupping the back of Kurt’s neck and pulling him closer when his tongue tentatively brushes against Blaine’s.
Kurt holds Blaine’s face between his hands as the kiss deepens and little noises escape from Blaine’s throat. Blaine pulls away with a gasp Kurt keeps his hands on his cheeks, pressing their foreheads together and his eyes tightly shut, his sharp breathing mingling with Blaine’s. It’s hot and humid, but he doesn’t want to move yet, he wants to keep him close a little longer until it doesn’t feel so surreal that they’re together now.
Blaine grips his arms and inhales shakily, fingers digging in Kurt’s skin as he rocks his upper body forward, their noses pressing together with the motion.
“I can’t breathe,” Blaine whispers after a while and Kurt reluctantly lets go of him. Blaine drags his hands down Kurt’s arms until he can hold his hands and Kurt wishes he weren’t wearing his Dalton blazer so he could feel Blaine’s touch better. Bringing Kurt’s hands to his mouth he kisses his knuckles, drawing a thrilled hum from Kurt. “I’m so happy right now.”
“I want to kiss you again,” Kurt admits in a small voice which breaks into a squeal when Blaine pulls him forward and kisses him.
Kurt lets go of Blaine’s hand to hold his waist as their lips meet repeatedly with small, dry kisses that soon turn into them only pressing their smiles together and laughing. Blaine strokes Kurt’s cheek with the tip of his fingers and Kurt leans into the touch. Blaine pecks his nose before kissing his lips slowly. Kurt sucks lightly on his lip and lets go of Blaine’s waist to hold the back of his head.
This is definitely Kurt’s favourite kiss so far, outranking their first one because while it has major fireworks points there was resolutely less tongues and hands, two things Kurt just found out he really appreciates.
“I need to take you out on a proper date,” Blaine says when they pull apart. “As my boyfriend.”
“What if I took you out?” Kurt asks coyly while smoothing down the lapels of Blaine’s blazer.
“I’m free tonight and every other night after if you want.”
“Tonight sounds good.”
Blaine nods before pulling Kurt closer. “We can make plans later? I want to kiss you.”
“Are you making up for lost time?”
“Are you complaining?”
Kurt darts forward to kiss Blaine’s quirked eyebrow before shaking his head. “No. Definitely not complaining.”
Kurt smiles as Blaine leans in to kiss him again, his eyes fluttering shut and his heart thumping in his ears. Months of bitterness and uncertainty are being erased with every brush of Blaine’s lips on his. Waiting had been difficult, but he was beginning to see that it had been very, very worth it.