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Light the Spark

Chapter Text

It's raining, heavily. Of course it is.

Blaine grits his teeth against the cold wind battering his face, pulls his grey coat more tightly around himself, trying to shield his hands within the thick fabric as best he can, and hurries down the busy street. Trying to run down a busy street in the middle of New York, on a Monday morning of all mornings, is apparently near to impossible, and at this point in time, he's willing to bet that it'd be more likely for a comet to come shooting overhead than him actually getting anywhere with this endeavour.

The rain suddenly comes down more heavily, the wind picks up and nearly pushes him over. Blaine sighs as he grabs hold of a lamp post to stop himself from falling, taking a breath before determinedly moving forwards. He is going to get down those steps to the subway, and he is definitely going to beat that woman over there with the oversized chariot for her screaming child to the next train. He glares at the rushing woman and starts running, carefully dodging everyone with a skill and grace that should, really, qualify him for the Olympics.

'Sorry!' he apologises to an old man he brushes against as he hurries down the steps, throwing an apologetic smile over his shoulder. The old man ignores him and carries on his merry way, and Blaine mentally shrugs, wonders if this whole 'carry on and mind your own business' thing is an inherit New York thing or a thing you pick up. He slows down as he joins the end of a queue to get through the gates, card at the ready, and eyes Gladiator and Chariot Baby in the corner of his eye.

Oh, it's so on.

He swipes his card, hurries through the gate and down towards the platform, coat flapping as he does the closest thing to running without actually running. His shoes are loud against the slightly damp floor, slippery in some places from the countless footsteps that have walked across it, and there's a slight breeze that washes over him as he steps onto the platform. It brushes through his hair, and Blaine knows without checking in a filthy public bathroom mirror that his hair has lost all hope. That the gel has been washed and blown out and his curls left to roam his head unattended.

The woman is at the other end of the platform, Screaming Baby in tow, and Blaine eyes her. Watches the train slowly pull in, watches the doors begin to open to let people off. The woman is rearing up, ready to try and beat him onto the train. No chance, lady. No chance.

The minute there's a gap, Blaine practically jumps through the doors, rushes to an empty seat and smirks proudly to himself when he sees the woman push the chariot through the doors, barely missing the doors closing behind her. Forcing the grin off his face, Blaine carefully pulls his phone from his pocket, slides his thumb across the screen and unlocks it.

08:40. Okay. Not too bad. He can work with that. That still gives him twenty minutes to get to work and start on time, give or take a few seconds. The wheels screech underneath his feet, and he pays no attention to the train as it stops at the next station. The woman sitting next to him silently gets up and moves towards the door, disappears into the crowd of passengers and becomes just another drop in an ocean. Blaine sighs and taps out a text to Tina, confirming their post-work plans.

The seat suddenly shakes with an earthquake like vibration, and Blaine surreptitiously looks over. An older looking man, complete with the half bald, half mullet look, a beer belly and an unsettling collection of greasy looking stains is sitting next to him, legs a foot in front of him and hand scratching at the pathetic excuse for a beard. And then he burps, loudly.

Blaine sighs. Something in the universe hates him today.

So the office building where his new job is at is fancy. Really, really fancy and really nice to look at and the chairs in the reception type area are actually really comfortable looking. Not like the chairs from his last job, where all they'd had were straight backed things that looked more like medieval torture devices than things of comfort and relaxation.

Blaine walks up to the desk, looking around at the various people rushing by him. One woman is wearing what he knows is an Armani dress, complete with killer heels and a Gucci jacket that he's fairly certain was in the last issue of Vogue. He reaches it, and smiles at the man sitting in front of the computer screen, face highlighted by the glare of the screen.

'Hi,' Blaine introduces himself, not faltering in his smile as the man doesn't look up from his quick fingered typing, 'I'm here to see Santana Lopez.'

'Name?' the guy asks, his voice bored and monotonous, sparing Blaine a brief glance.

'Blaine Anderson.'

The guy types something into the computer and stares at the screen, scrolls down before typing in something else. Blaine feels a bit awkward, just standing here whilst everyone around him is rushing to get to work, or, in a passing girl's case, carrying a suit in a clear plastic bag towards the fancy looking elevator. Blaine snaps his attention back to the guy behind the desk, who's still typing and scrolling.

'Ms Lopez will be with you shortly,' he says after another minute of awkward silence, not bothering to look up at Blaine now. 'Please take a seat in the main lobby area.'

Blaine nods his thanks and quickly walks to where he'd seen the comfortable looking seats before, carefully sitting down and taking in his surroundings. The carpeted floor was immaculately clean, despite the hundreds of people he'd seen walking across it in various states of hurry, and the walls were classy in appearance and colour. Everyone here was smartly dressed, beautiful and evidently talented enough to get a job here at Vogue. While Blaine had been feeling excited for the last few days, ever since he'd received a call congratulating him on his getting the job, he also felt slightly overwhelmed. Everything here is so big and new, shining brightly and showing off to the rest of the world that it knows it's better than everything else.

Even the people here seem shiny and new, hair immaculate and suits and dresses pressed to the point where wrinkles seemed to avoid them completely.

Blaine definitely feels overwhelmed, but he was nothing if not resourceful, and he refuses to be intimidated.

In the corner of his eye, he spots a magazine resting innocently on a coffee table. Looking around himself again, Blaine reaches forward and takes the magazine, opens it and begins to read. The noise in his ears settles into something softer, less like noise and more like something further away, more ignorable. He smiles as he re-reads articles that he'd read when this issue of Vogue first came out last month, looks at the spreads on the pages and the advertisements for various brands of perfumes and fashion items. He crosses his legs, lets one ankle rest on the opposite knee, and leans back into the chair.


Blaine startles, looks up from the magazine resting on his lap. A young woman is standing in front of him, gorgeous red dress clinging to her form like a second skin and dark hair framing her face in waves. She raises an eyebrow, and Blaine nods, coming back to himself. He leans forward and puts the magazine back on the table. The woman's eyes track it's movement before snapping back to him. Blaine feels like he's being watched by some sort of predator. In a situation like this, there's only really one thing Blaine can think of to do.

He stands up quickly, smoothing out his coat in the process. For a second or so, the woman just stares at him, scrutinises him under a piercing stare that makes Blaine feel like he's weighted to the ground in cast iron. He resists the urge to shift uncomfortably, makes himself stand still. Finally, the woman shifts out of her piercing stance.

'Santana Lopez,' she says, crossing her arms over her chest and watching Blaine. She moves her head slightly, enough to flick her fringe from her face. 'Welcome to Vogue. I'm Kurt's personal assistant and I'm here today to make sure you don't screw anything up.' She speaks like she's reading off a rehearsed speech, monotonous and slightly bored. Blaine nods anyway, trying to convey earnestness. 'Follow me.'

She spins around on her heel with a grace that Blaine's envious of, and begins to walk away. Blaine hurries to follow her, to keep up with her long strides. The heels on Santana's stilettos, Blaine absently notes, are so long and thin that they could probably be used as a murder weapon.

'We have a very delicate system around here, Anderson,' Santana says as they walk, hair bouncing on her shoulders as they weave through two guys carrying an armful of clothes, Blaine with a little more difficulty. 'Everybody does what they're told and that keeps Kurt happy. And a happy Kurt is a Kurt that won't beat our asses to the ground. Gots it so far?' She turns her head enough to look back over at Blaine, and Blaine nods dutifully.

Santana leads them over to a large, shining elevator, past the crowds of people milling around it, pushes the button on the wall. A brief second of waiting around and awkward silence, then the doors are opening and Santana is herding Blaine inside, patience of a pissed off saint. Blaine goes awkwardly, looks around as Santana leans to the side and presses another button. The inside is brightly lit with overhead lights, mirrors surrounding them on every wall. It makes Blaine feel a bit uneasy, all the mirrors.

'Let me be very, very clear, Rainbow Hobbit,' Santana says as the doors open again, revealing an office-type area, complete with small cubicles surrounded by spotless glass. She struts out of the lift and down the pseudo hallway, hair and hips swinging like she's a woman on a mission. Blaine hurries to follow her, looking around him in both nervousness and curiosity. 'For whatever reason, Kurt saw something in you – well, your resume – and picked you out of a thousand other applicants for this position.' She glances at him over her shoulder, eyes dark with warning. 'He chose you. And if you do anything to make him question that – if you screw up just the slightest bit – then our esteemed Westwood loving leader will kick your ass to the curb before you can even begin to grovel.'

Santana suddenly stops and looks at Blaine again, eyes narrowed in a warning that Blaine has no doubt is real. 'We clear, Bow Tie?'

Wordlessly, Blaine nods. Barely avoids walking into a clothing rack being wheeled out of an office and towards the elevator.

Santana leads them into the office at the end of the hallway, and Blaine looks around. Once again, the place is surrounded by sheets and walls of crystal clear glass, shining in the bright overhead lights. The carpeted floors are white and cream, not a mark on them despite the hundreds of people that must have walked on them at some point. There are a few desks in the area, each equipped with a Mac. All Blaine can do is stare in fascination, because this is Vogue, one of his absolute favourite things, and he's in the place where it's created.

He suppresses the urge to squeal like a fanboy.

'This,' Santana says, pointing at one of the desks, 'is where you will be stationed.' It's one of the desks that's fairly near the corner, but not quite in it – there's a similar one on the other side of the room. Compared to the other cubicles and desks in the building (that Blaine has seen so far on his travels up here), they're quite spacious, and Blaine feels like smiling. At Santana's prompting, he makes his way over to the desk and trails a finger along the smooth finish of the desktop. Carefully, he begins to unbutton his coat and shrugs it off, places it on the back of his chair.

'Your job here is to essentially be the secondary assistant,' Santana continues to speak as Blaine slowly sits down, testing the chair and it's comfort levels. Not the worst thing in the world, but definitely room for improvement. 'Your tasks will include, but not be limited to, bringing Kurt his morning coffee, carrying messages between departments, answering calls, taking messages and just generally doing the things that I don't want to do.'

She finishes her speech with a beautific smile, and Blaine feels the cool dread in the pit of his stomach again.

At that moment, the door suddenly bursts open, and a guy storms in, a file and clipboard under one of his arms and face set in a scowl. His dark hair is highlighted with blonde and stands high, and his eyes are outlined with dark eyeliner. They scan the room for a second, land on Santana, and he walks over to her, hands her the file. Then he rolls up the sleeves of his shirt to his elbows and crosses his arms, still looking pissed off.

'All of the shoots bar one are done,' he says as Santana opens the file and flicks through the thick pages, nodding and humming occasionally. 'The last one would have been done if Bitchette had actually sent the right girl, so she needs to be called again to reschedule it.'

'I'll let her know,' Santana says with a smile, walking over to the other desk on the other side of the room and placing the file down carefully. 'This is what – the third fuck up in the last few months?'

'Kurt's not gonna be happy with her,' the guy says with a sigh, shaking his head. He glances towards Blaine and seems to notice him for the first time. 'Who's this?'

'New guy,' Santana says by way of explanation, walking over to one of the cupboards and pulling out a shining glass and a bottle of what looks like expensive mineral water. She glances up at Blaine and nods towards the guy. 'Hairgel, that's Elliott. He's the head of the wardrobe department.'

Elliott gives him an amused smile as he takes a single step back. 'Good luck,' he nods at him, spinning on the spot and walking towards the glass doors. He stops just before it and sniffs, turns around and says, 'Has someone eaten an onion bagel?' After a pause, he shrugs, still grimacing, and opens the door, lets it swing shut again behind him as he struts down the hallway. Blaine tries to surreptitiously smell his own breath and see whether the remains of the onion bagel he had for breakfast are still there.

Santana just raises an eyebrow at him from across the room, and he stops immediately. Rolling her eyes, Santana takes the bottle and glass and opens the door in between their desks, goes through it and lets it shut behind her. She's back again within a few seconds, though, but she doesn't sit down.

'For the record, Bow Tie,' Santana says as she flicks through the giant file that Elliott had handed to her again, eyes scanning the pages, 'if you don't want Kurt to fire your ass, don't be an ass kisser to him. He hates that. The last guy who had your job was gone within a week.'

Blaine gulps and looks down at his desk, trying to the quell the feeling of dread in his stomach again. Focuses on his breathing and remains calm. There's the loud sound of a door opening, and Blaine looks up in time to see someone stride into the office, confidence radiating from them in waves. His breath catches in his throat as he sees who it is: Kurt Hummel.

He walks with the grace and confidence of someone who knows that they own the place, like they know that literally no one and nothing can touch them. He himself looks untouchable, and yet the sharp angles of his jawline and the Dior sunglasses perched on his face, the (tight tight tight) purple shirt with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows, and black coat draped over his arm, all add something alluring to the mix. Blaine can't stop staring at him, at this amazing, amazing person, and he knows that he doesn't want to stop staring.

Kurt slows to a stop in his tracks when Santana walks up to him, file in hand, and he lifts a hand to remove the sunglasses, perches them atop his head.

'Elliott sent these up this morning,' Santana explains as she hands Kurt the giant file, face set in a professional mask. Kurt opens the file and quickly glances through it, nodding as Santana continues to talk. 'Most of the shots are done, he just needs to get the last one done. It would have been done before now if not for Bichette.'

Kurt sighs and rolls his eyes. 'Did she send the wrong girl or guy again?' he asks, voice slightly monotonous with the air of someone who's said this at least three times before. At Santana's nod and eye roll, he snorts. 'Well, I think we can strike Bichette off of the invite list, at least for now.' Santana smirks and nods, walks over to her desk and picks up another clipboard and scribbles something down. Kurt hums and turns his head slightly and seems to notice Blaine's presence for the first time. He eyes him with a hint of curiosity before turning back to Santana, eyes questioning.

'Is he new?' he asks, cocking his head in Blaine's direction as he smooths a hand over his coat.

'Started this morning,' Santana responded instantly, still writing something down, this time in a small journal. She looks up and gives Kurt a smile. 'I ran him through the basics so he should be good to go.'

Kurt gave her a smile and a nod, says, 'Thanks, Santana,' and turns on his heels and heads towards the other door, opens it and steps through it. It shuts with a barely audible click behind him, and Blaine only then notices that the sign on the door reads KURT HUMMEL: SENIOR EDITOR. For a second, Blaine stares at the door, mind reeling. He shakes his head and makes himself concentrate on what he's supposed to be doing – which he doesn't really know, actually, now that he thinks about it. What is he supposed to be doing right now?

Shrugging mentally, Blaine logs on to the Mac, tapping a finger against the desktop as it slowly whirs and loads up.

'Blaine, can you run this down to Artie in Tech?' Santana says, and Blaine looks up at her. She's holding a sheet of paper in her hand, and Blaine nods, gets up from his desk and walks over to retrieve it. Santana hands it over, says, 'You can't miss him. He's in a wheelchair.'

Blaine smiles and nods awkwardly, turns and walks out of the office and down the hallway, following the signs placed periodically along the way. He dodges more clothing racks and harassed looking employees carrying hundreds of coffees and papers. A few look at him in curiosity, but most of them are too busy to pay him any real attention. Like this, it doesn't take too long to find Tech, and a few minutes later, he's pushing open a door that leads to a room filled completely with various technical equipment. He pauses and looks around. Takes in his surroundings with curiosity.

'Hi,' comes a voice from the side, and Blaine startles. A guy with horn rimmed glasses and a beanie has just appeared at his side, a smile in place. 'Can I help you with something?'

'Erm,' Blaine starts, feeling a bit freaked out because this guy won't stop smiling, 'I'm looking for Artie?' He waves the piece of paper in explanation, and the guy nods, points over to a door on the other side of the cluttered room with a, 'He's in there.' Blaine nods awkwardly again and makes a beeline for the door, eager to get away from Smiler again. Treading carefully over the various wires and cables thrown precariously on the floor, Blaine knocks on the door, opens it at the affirmation to enter.

A guy in a wheelchair is sat at a desk, face illuminated by the glow of the computer screen. The screen is reflected in his glasses, and he looks up when he hears the door open. 'What's up?'

'Santana sent me down here,' Blaine explains, handing over the piece of paper. The guy – Artie, Blaine assumes – takes it and his eyes scan over it quickly. He rolls them when he's done and smirks. 'All right, you can tell her that I'll sort it out for her. Although how she managed to break it is beyond me.' He looks up at Blaine again, smile becoming something more friendly. 'I don't think I've seen you here. New?'

'Erm – yeah. I work upstairs with Santana,' Blaine answers. He steps forward and holds out his hand, the voice of his mother chiding him on his lack of manners. 'Blaine. Blaine Anderson.'

'Artie Abrams,' Artie returns, leaning forward and shaking Blaine's hand with a friendly grin. Somehow, it's contagious, because Blaine ends up smiling, despite his own forth comings. 'I'm gonna tell you now, Blaine. Anything you've heard from that devil woman upstairs is at least twenty percent exaggerations and five percent lies.' He gives a small shrug. 'Bitches be crazy, yo. Can you open the door for me?' he adds on, almost as an afterthought. Blaine frowns in confusion, but complies, opening the door that leads back into the tangle of wires and cables and Smiler Guy.

Artie grabs a blank piece of paper from his desk and fiddles with it, folds it over and over again until he no longer has a sheet of paper sitting in his hands, but a paper airplane. Blaine cocks his head to the side, watching him and wondering why Artie's made one. Artie grins at him, mischievousness radiating from every part of him, and raises a hand, presses a finger against his lips and motions for Blaine to move out of the way of the door. Blaine quickly scoots to the side.

Aiming carefully, Artie angles his head purses his lips, narrows his eyes in concentration. Pulls his arm back, airplaine still clutched between three fingers. Lets his arm propel forward and releases the plane. Blaine watches as the plane sails through the door, out of the room, and winces when he hears the fairly high pitched yelp of surprise and pain on the other side of the wall. Artie fists bumps the air and grins at Blaine, holds up a hand.

Gingerly, Blaine high fives him, watching the door for Smiler to come in. Artie notices him watching the door and snorts, waving a hand dismissively. 'Don't worry about Chandler in there, man. He's just a bit creepy and happens to be good with computers.' He pauses and appears to think. 'And has a weird love of beanies,' he adds with a small grimace.

Not knowing what to say to that, Blaine just nods and smiles.

'I still can't believe you got a job at Vogue,' Wes says with a shake of his head, looking dumbfounded as he picks up his half empty bottle of beer, takes a sip of it. Blaine shrugs and laughs slightly, rubbing his hand down the back of his neck, over the tiny hairs at the base of his skull.

It's not really late – about nine at the latest – but it feels later. They're in a club, loud and obnoxiously bright and packed full with dancing, twisting bodies. The music in here is playing loud enough to send vibrations through the floor and up to the tabletop. It beats in Blaine's ears, until the music all melts into one continuous sound, and around him, the bright lights shine and dart like lasers across the place, bright green and red and blue from the ceiling. He looks across at the people on the dance floor, at how they're dancing without a care in the world, somehow beautiful in their shamelessness.

Despite the fact that he knows that a few good looking guys have looked his way tonight, Blaine can't bring himself to care. Because all he sees in his head when he pictures himself dancing with someone out on that floor, he sees Kurt. Kurt who he works for, who he has never even spoken to before.

Shaking his head, he snaps his attention back to Wes, face illuminated by a green light. In all honesty, it makes him look like the gavel-wielding dictator that he'd always aspired to be back in high school. 'I mean,' Wes continues, gesturing at Blaine with a sweeping hand, generalising and covering most of his body, 'you mix Brooks Brothers polos with bow ties.'

Tina giggles and hushes him from Blaine's other side, flapping a hand in his general direction. Leans forward so that her hair falls around her face, the bright coloured lights bouncing off of it, and she takes a sip of her own drink. 'I think it's awesome that you have this, Blainey,' she says with a small smile, sitting back up and brushing her hair out of her face. She stares at Blaine for a second, apparently considering something, before asking, 'So, what's he like?'

'Who? Kurt?' Tina nods, and Blaine sighs, thinking, then shrugs. Picks up his bottle of beer and idly moves it around his hands, watching the contents of the bottle move with the motions. 'I don't know. I mean, he seems nice, you know?' Tina hums and nods again, still watching him. Overhead, the light switches from neon green to blue in colour, and the light is reflected in Tina's eyes. 'He's gorgeous as well,' Blaine adds as an afterthought, looking off onto the dance floor again.

'So you like him?' David asks, a grin starting to appear on his face. Blaine reaches around Wes to slap his arm, not even bothering to try and hide his own smile. At least it's dark in here, because they can't see the red painted blush starting to rise to his cheeks.

'I don't even know him,' Blaine – rather calmly, he might add – points out, grin softening a bit. 'I can just admit that I think he's attractive.' He snorts, shakes his head as he looks down at the table. 'I'm pretty sure his demon assistant would sooner castrate me rather than let me within five feet of him.'

He's pretty sure that he isn't exaggerating with that one. Santana probably would come after him with a rusty spoon. She probably has minions who would hold him down whilst she cut off the goods. Blaine shudders at the thought of it, trying not to think about it. He tries not to cross his legs protectively at the thought. Tina seems to notice his shifting – her mouth turns upwards just the slightest bit in an amused smile, and she quickly looks down in what appears to be an effort not to laugh.

But, Blaine thinks as he looks out across the dance floor again, while he doesn't know for certain whether he finds Kurt aesthetically pleasing or whether it's a crush of sorts, he does know that he admires him and what he's done, what he's accomplished. When Blaine first arrived in New York, fresh out of high school and ready to start college, he didn't realise how difficult it would be to make it. This city is nothing like Westerville, or Lima, or any city in Ohio. Everything about New York seems to shine a hundred thousand times brighter than it did back home. Every building seems taller. Every street seems longer. And within the city, there are so many people just like Blaine. Carbon copies of him, of his talent and his appearance, each trying to make it in the same field. Santana was right when she mentioned that there had been a thousand other people applying for the former-vacancy.

And yet, somehow, out of the thousand other people, Blaine had been chosen. Kurt Hummel had chosen him. Just something about that thought, whether it was the faint traces of alcohol in his system or whatever, sets something inside Blaine alight with a burning warmth that permeates his brain. It makes him feel fuzzy and happy and giddy and light headed. Maybe it's just because it makes Blaine feel that much closer to Kurt, to Kurt's own story with accomplishments.

Because Kurt Hummel, conqueror of the fashion world, had just been another beautiful boy from Ohio who came to the city with big hopes and dreams. And within a few years, he'd smashed through all the barriers and had rewritten the rules to suit himself, had become the senior editor of Vogue by the age of twenty five. Everyone knew the story. Blaine's pretty sure it's taught to kids as a 'you can do it' type of inspirational tale.

'Hey?' A whistle and a tap to the cheek, and Blaine snaps his attention back to Wes. Wes is staring at him with a raised eyebrow, hand hovering in mid air. 'You back on Earth yet, Blainers?'

'I think he's thinking about his new boss,' David answers for him with a shit-eating grin, watching Blaine carefully with hawk eyes. 'An office romance. Very rom-com chique, Blaine.'

'Fuck off,' Blaine laughs, his voice lacking any real heat. David just waggles his eyebrows in what Blaine assumes is supposed to be a suggestive manner. Honestly, all Blaine can see when he looks at David's eyebrows right now are two caterpillars doing the worm.

Maybe it's time for him to stop drinking. He does have work in the morning, after all, and there's a voice inside his head that sounds just like David that's saying Kurt won't be impressed if he turns up with a massive hangover. Stupid David voice.

'I should probably get going,' he announces to the table, pushing his mostly empty beer bottle away from him. David's eyes track the movement of the bottle, like he's considering taking it and finishing it off himself. He stands up slowly, legs a bit unsteady as he sways, which he's totally blaming on the sudden change in altitude. He rests a hand on the table, under the pretence that it's to look smooth, and not at all because he can't even stand up straight. 'Got work tomorrow,' he adds, probably unnecessarily.

David's grin widens. 'Gotta look sharp for Kurt, eh Blaine?' he grins at him, and somehow even in the relative darkness, David still manages to make his grin be the brightest thing in the room. It's not even a good thing. Blaine supposes that it's because David is so obnoxious that the universe has just given him his own personal glow to light the way.

'I hate you,' Blaine informs him, smiling. 'And goodnight,' he says to Tina and Wes, waving at them as he turns and heads towards the door. He pushes his way through the crowds of dancing people, trying not to get caught up in the heat and the music and the brightness of it all, gently pushes anyone who seems too clingy off of himself. When he reaches the door and pushes it open, the cool, crisp air is like a blessing and a curse to him. The sharpness of it seems to instantly clear his head of some of the fog that had been forming over the last few hours, induced by a combination of alcohol and comfortable warmth. Yet, it's also like being splashed in the face with an unwelcome bucket of icy water when he'd been perfectly content before.

Shaking his head, Blaine makes himself snap out of it, and he runs to hail a passing cab, already beginning to shiver.

Blaine's apartment is tiny. Like, really tiny. He's pretty certain that he's seen shoe boxes that have more space in them than this apartment, but whatever.

The living room is pretty much taken up by his couch and TV, the Xbox lying connected to it somewhere to the side. It's tastefully decorated, in Blaine's opinion – nothing too extravagant that would seem out of place in a former college student's box apartment. The walls are painted a simple white, a few framed photos hanging up here and there to add some personality to the place. There are also three doors which lead off into different rooms: the kitchen, the bathroom and the bedroom. None of the rooms are overly huge, especially the bathroom, and Blaine could barely manage to fit the essential furniture into the dollhouse rooms.

He doesn't care, though. Over the last few months or so, Blaine's made this place home. It's the place he comes back to after a long day at work, where he can relax and lay on his bed and curl up with his laptop on the couch. And for all the issues with the size of it, Blaine really wouldn't trade it for anything, especially the view.

He softly closes the door behind him, locking it and placing his keys on the hook next to the door. Drops his bag on the couch and haphazardly pulls off his coat, dumps it on the couch as well. This is one of the things that Blaine loves about living alone now, he muses as he unbuttons the first button of his shirt, walking through the tiny living room. He can be as messy as he wants, and he can just dump everything on the couch until later. God bless living alone.

Blaine wanders up to the large window on the other side of the room and gazes out of it, and he feels his breath catch in his throat, just like every time before it, like the first time he'd stared from it. His view from here is a view of the city, bright orange street lights shining up at him, and the yellow moving pinpricks beetling up and down the roads. Across from him, the tall buildings are dark and silent, empty and watching. As he shifts with the slow process of unbuttoning, Blaine's eyes fall to his forearm, to where the tiny crown shaped mark shifts and stretches with his movements. For a second, he trails a finger over the mark, brushing it gently, before shaking his head, resuming getting his shirt off as he walks into the bedroom.

He stumbles out of his pants and shoes, nearly trips over the pile of laundry sitting innocently near the door, faceplants the double bed with an oompf. Sighing and yawning, Blaine crawls up the bed until he's lying properly on it, and somehow manages to get himself underneath the covers. Burrows down and pulls them around himself, and he falls asleep pretty much instantly.

Blaine's dreaming. He dreams of a softness that somehow, he's never felt before, and a warmth that starts in the base of his heart, that makes it's way through his body with every heartbeat. And there's a feeling like floating on clouds, so light and soft and welcoming, a feeling of familiarity. And a colour – a shade of blue that seems too magical to be real, because it's a mixture of blue and green and grey and gold, and when he stares into it, it's like looking into the depths of a pool of water. He peers closer, leaning forward on his cloud – even though he has no idea whether he has a form beyond a single thought or not – and stares into the rippling depths, where the grey melts into the gold.

The gold shimmers and shifts and twists beneath his gaze. It swirls in the water, and it parts and comes together, never stopping until a shape begins to appear. Blaine watches, fascinated, as it takes form, as it becomes something more real than a blur of potential. Somewhere from the swirling colours, the beginning of a crown appears, gold and regal and familiar in a way that Blaine can't quite place. As he watches it form, the smaller details appearing, he begins to make out the outline of another shape.

A person, next to the crown. Blaine has a sneaking suspicion that he knows who it is, even in murky outline form, made of ghost-like patterns of blue and grey. As he begins to think, the distant sounds of an alarm begin to permeate the tranquil air, wrapping itself around Blaine and yanking him from the cloud, away from the pool and the crown.

Just before it vanishes from view, Blaine sees the flame flare into life, the figure from the water following it. And Blaine just knows, knows deep in his gut, that the figure is Kurt Hummel.

And then he wakes up in his New York apartment, surrounded by twisted sheets and bright morning lights, alarm blaring in the background, the dream already beginning to fade.

Chapter Text

The alarm is still going off when Blaine opens his eyes, blinking blearily and trying to muster the strength to sit up. He shifts his head enough to see his iPhone, sitting on the side and making way too much noise for something so small. Blaine groans into his pillow, reaches out a hand blindly to grab the phone, to drag it closer to himself so he can shut it off. Shaking and shivering, Blaine shuts it off, drops it next to him and reluctantly sits up, places his head in his hands and massages his temples.

He feels like death.

There's a rhythmic pounding inside his head that seems to come from the centre of his brain, constant and painful and making Blaine want to curl up into a ball of twisted sheets. And he's shivering, trembling non-stop. The tremors travel down his arms to his hands, and he draws back, looks at the back of his right hand and just watches his body move without his consent, and Blaine just feels weird. He knows, logically, that he didn't have that much to drink last night – what he had barely even counts as a blip on the Hangover Scale.

And yet, Blaine can't shake the feeling that he's forgotten something. Something important and wonderful and something he was supposed to remember. He remembers dreaming of something, a warmth and softness and bright, bright lights that somehow didn't burn him. Mentally, he tries to grab at the small, fleeting details, tries to piece things together and make sense of things, but his motions are sluggish. Like he's moving through syrup, trying to chase a fleeing cloud into the sky. Blaine can only watch the details continue to fade from his grasp, leaving him only with a clouded mind and a single piece of clarity: a colour. A colour so vibrant and beautiful and mesmerising that he can't even name it. He just knows, and it just is.

He takes a deep breath, tries to clear some of the fog around his mind, peels back the tangled covers and throws his legs over the side of the bed. The first touch of his warm, bare feet against the cool carpet is like a small shock to his system, and he scrunches his toes, steels himself as he already begins to feel any and all warmth collected escape. The comfortable, cocoon-like warmth is replaced with a crisp, November morning chill, one that raises goosebumps up and down his arms. Absently, Blaine rubs his hands against the skin, trying to generate some heat.

He sighs again, runs his hands through his hair again, and he rises to his feet.

Every step he takes across the tiny bedroom, the carpet cold like ice, feels strange, different. Blaine feels his head begin to cloud up again, the air seems to become thicker with something else, something heavier. He doesn't understand. There's a feeling in the air like something is trying to get Blaine to understand something, and it feels familiar. Soft. Warm, despite the biting cold that runs it's icy fingers along his skin in a mockery of an embrace. Everything feels dreamlike, in a sense. Every rise and fall of his feet seems to take longer, seems to fall softer, and every breath feels amplified in his ears, like he's breathing into a megaphone that only he can hear.

In this manner, Blaine makes his way to the door, opens it by hanging off of it, stumbles into the living room. His bag and coat are still lying on the couch, haphazardly and carelessly thrown there in a tipsy fit. Blaine barely pays any attention to his surroundings as he makes his way around the obstacle course. Ignores the mug resting on the coffee table, and the cables on the ground, the lone sock lying in the corner. His mind is set on getting to the other side, to the other door that leads to the bathroom.

He makes it in relative time.

Blaine practically slides into the bathroom, and he hisses out a quiet, 'Fuck!' The tiles, black and white and absolutely gorgeous, are like blocks of ice beneath Blaine's feet, far worse than the carpet had been. Each step to reach his towel is like walking on thickened ice, each step seems to sting the soles of his feet with tiny, tiny pinpricks of sharp, stabbing cold. Blaine shivers, breathes in the cold air. The only good thing about the coldness, he reflects sullenly, is the fact that it's doing wonders for clearing the fog from his head.

Even so, there's still something there, something that rests on his skin like armour. Blaine knows it wasn't there last night. The thing, whatever it may be, wraps itself around him again, tendrils protectively clinging to him, and somehow, despite the cold that Blaine feels, there's that warmth again. The strange warmth he felt when he woke up that just feels – right. The cold permeates the armour, and yet at the same time, the warmth is still there, still lurking in the shadows of the hairs on his arms and inside the tiny crown.

Distractedly, Blaine trails a finger over the crown again. It feels warm, somehow, warmer than the rest of the arm surrounding it.

Shaking his head, Blaine removes his hand from his arm and peels off his ratty t-shirt and sweats, which turn out to be on inside-out, which Blaine blames on the drinking from last night. He throws them out of the door, not really caring where they land, and he opens the shower door, steps inside. Immediately, standing in there is like standing on frozen ground, and Blaine hurriedly reaches for the taps and twists them.

Hot water immediately starts pounding down from the shower head, beats down on Blaine's back with a force that has Blaine smiling. The heat seeps into his skin, breaks through the coldness that had been clinging to him ever since he'd left his bed, and he reaches for the shampoo on the side. Squeezes some into the palm of his hand and massages it around his scalp, taking his time as the water continues to rain down on him like liquid heaven. The glass walls of the shower are beginning to steam up, rising from the centre the longer Blaine keeps the door closed.

He gently rubs the shower gel down his body, lets the heat continue to seep through his skin, into his veins. In time, the combination of the pounding hot water and the gentle massaging of shower gel and shampoo eventually helps Blaine to wake up a bit more beyond the zombie-like state. He feels happier, chirpier, and when he opens the door to the shower to step outside, to grab his towel from the rail hanging just within reach of the shower, he only manages a mild grimace at the sudden burst of icy air.

Getting dressed is a fairly speedy business. He chooses a blue bow tie and white shirt, pulls on some pants and shoes. Then he goes and sits on his bed whilst he thinks through what else he needs to do. He's mentally making his list for the day when his phone begins to ring. Blaine reaches over to grab it from the bedside table, makes a face when he realises it's Santana calling him. He clears his throat, puts on a smile, and answers it with what he hopes is a polite, ' Hello?'

'Blaine?' Santana's voice pours down the line, small compared to real life. 'Listen, on your way into work today, I need you to pick up Kurt's coffee for him.' Blaine hums in acknowledgement of the request as he stands up, walks out of his bedroom and back into the living room. His coat is now lying across the back of the couch, his bag standing up neatly against the oversized cushions.

'Okay,' Blaine says with a nod, even though he knows that Santana can't see the motion. He picks up his bag and heads into the kitchen, dumps it on the table whilst he quickly fills a glass with water.

'And can you pick me up one of those really nice bagels from that place near the office?' Santana adds, causing Blaine to pause in his steps and frown. He's about to say something, maybe ask why Santana's having him run around getting her breakfast, when Santana interrupts him with a cheery, 'Thanks! Bye!'

Blaine takes the phone away from his ear, stares at it for a second, and just sighs in resignation.

Santana looks up from her computer screen the moment Blaine pushes the door to the office open, eyes darting to the paper bag in his hand in a flash. She's up and out of her seat within a second, before Blaine has even finished closing the door behind him, and strolls over to him, a picture perfect mask of nonchalance and indifference. Blaine can see her impatience though. It's in every step she takes in those skyscraper stilettos, every sway of her pale yellow dress and bounce of her immaculately curled hair.

He holds out the paper bag as soon as she's within reaching distance, and she takes it with an almost gleeful ferocity. Practically tears into the brown paper and takes out the bagel, stares at it like it holds the secrets to all of life's great mysteries. She looks back up at Blaine and smiles innocently, clutching the pastry closer to herself, like she's afraid that he'll try and steal it back from her. 'I knew there was a reason why we hired you,' she says, smiling wider before she takes a single step back, turns, and walks back to her desk, hips swaying to an unheard beat.

Blaine takes the coffee out of the other bag, careful not to spill it all over the almost clinically clean carpet, and he walks towards Santana's desk. Santana seems to sense his presence, because she looks up, bagel half in her mouth, and she raises an eyebrow challengingly, takes the bagel away from her mouth and wipes her fingers on a tissue from an open box. 'Yes?' she asks, voice light as she leans back in her chair, crosses her legs beneath the desk.

'What do I do with this?' Blaine asks, holding up the steaming cardboard cup of coffee, feeling a bit stupid for having to ask. Santana seems to sense that as well, smirking as she does for a second. She then points at the door, wooden and looming, that leads to Kurt's office. Blaine nods, smiles uneasily, and slowly walks towards the door, feet dragging in the thick carpet. At the last second, he turns around again and looks at Santana, who's gone back to eating her bagel, and asks, 'Is he in there yet?'

Mouth full of bagel, Santana just shakes her head, and Blaine nods again, turns back to the door, and slowly opens it.

Kurt's office is both exactly and different to what he expected it to be. It's gorgeously decorated, classy, tasteful, and the colour choices for the wall and carpet are genius. Along one wall, there's a leather couch, black and shining and near-pristine, if Blaine had to guess. A coffee table rests in front of it, a selection of magazines and newspapers lying in a chaotically organised pile. Shelves line the other wall, filled with books and huge, huge folders that seem to go on for miles, with pages spilling out of them. Little post-it notes are stuck to some shelves near some folders and portfolios, whilst stray pieces lay scattered around other shelves. Blaine stares in fascination for a moment, letting himself get lost in it.

Even just being in here makes Blaine feel something. He feels that strange warmth again, the one that seems to come from inside his own mind, that makes everything feel both lighter and heavier, that seems to burn that bit more where the crown lies. It's comforting and familiar again, and Blaine doesn't know whether it's the smell of leather in the room that's affecting him, or the lack of a reasonable amount of caffeine that morning, but it just feels – nice. He shakes his head a bit, smiles down at the carpeted floor, and he walks over to the desk, trails a finger across the smooth wood finish of the desktop. There are a few pieces of paper on the desk, arranged into piles and thrown carelessly and arranged in chaos.

For some reason, Blaine feels his heart warm a bit with fondness, which is ridiculous, because this is Kurt Hummel. He doesn't even know Kurt, has never even spoken to him. Has never actually made eye contact with him.

Blaine carefully places the coffee cup down on a spare bit of the desk that isn't covered in paper or pens, and he smiles again, begins to back away and turns to walk to the door. Once out of Kurt's office and back out into open water, Santana watching him like a hawk whilst chewing on her bagel, Blaine gently closes the door behind him and heads back to his own desk. Sits and logs on to the Mac, tapping his fingers in a mindless rhythm against the mouse. And he settles into a mindless two minute pattern of answering the phone a couple of times and taking messages, relaying things to Santana if necessary. He swings his legs periodically, more out of habit than anything. Santana immediately latches onto it like the leech she is and starts making comments about Blaine being far from the Shire, a shit-eating grin on her face the whole time.

Blaine doesn't show it, but inside, he's smiling in fond exasperation of her.

Ten minutes later, Blaine's searching for something online when the door swings open, cool air rushing in to the warm office. Blaine looks up in time to see Kurt stroll in, blue coat hanging over one arm again and sunglasses resting atop his head again. He strides with confidence, grace pouring out of him in waves, from the tips of his perfectly coiffed chestnut hair to the pristine surface of his white shirt and black tie. He gives Santana a quick, 'Hello,' and smiles quickly in Blaine's direction, small but not lacking in warmth, and he disappears inside his office, door shutting softly behind him.

Blaine stares for another second, not noticing that the mark on his arm burning again.

The door to Kurt's office opens and closes with a gentle, loud click, and Blaine looks up from his notes, looks over the top of the computer screen. Kurt is standing with his back to Blaine, leaning down slightly to talk to Santana at her desk, a monster sized file under his arm. Blaine's eyes, against his own will, trace the barely visible contours of Kurt's back, visible through the white shirt, which clings to him like it loves him. Inwardly, Blaine can't blame it.

They're talking in quiet tones, too quickly for Blaine to even attempt to catch anything. Not that he was going to, either way. Kurt apparently says something, gesticulates with a mild amount of control over his hands, and Santana looks over his shoulder at Blaine for a split second, eyes flitting back then forth in an instant. Blaine looks back down at the screen, feeling distinctly like he's the subject of their hushed conversation. Or at least he's the subject that's being alluded to. Blaine flits his eyes back up again, curiosity more overwhelming than trying to act cool and appear calm, and he watches Kurt nod to something Santana says, and he shifts. Takes the large file and opens it, pulls out a wad of papers and hands them to Santana. He then says something else, to which she nods and smiles, and turns, walking back to the door to his office.

Just before he disappears inside, his eyes flick over to Blaine for a split second. Blaine meets his eyes for a fraction of an instant, but in that moment, it feels like a tiny infinity within a gap of time. Because Blaine got to look at Kurt's eyes, for even just a moment, and there's a fleeting glimpse of a colour so beautiful it hurts, and so familiar it burns.

Absently, Blaine moves a hand to his arm and trails a finger lightly over the crown again, feels it tickle beneath his fingertip. It seems to be burning again, warmer than the rest of his arm, and for a second, he frowns and looks at it. It doesn't seem to be any different to how it was before. It's still in the same place, resting just on the inside of his arm and hidden from view, still black against the rest of his skin. Mentally shaking his head, Blaine looks up and back across the room.

Santana's standing up, walking around her desk with the pile of papers in hand and walking towards Blaine. She stops just short of his desk, and smiles like she knows something he doesn't. It's unnerving, if he's honest, and a bit terrifying because the first thing that Blaine thinks of is her having some kind of blackmail worthy information on him. He doesn't even want to think about what she'd do if she could blackmail him.

'First job of the day, Hairgel McGee,' Santana says, the names rolling off of her tongue like she's a pro and has a degree in it. She thrusts the pile of papers into Blaine's chest, and Blaine only just manages to get a hold of them all in time to stop them from falling to the ground. It's a struggle, though, to hold them all against his chest and not end up dropping them and looking like a massive idiot. 'I need you to take these down to Marketing and give them to Jean Baptiste.' She pauses and thinks for a second, adding, 'He's the Head of Marketing.'

'Right,' Blaine nods, more to himself than anything else, as Santana's already beginning to walk away from him and back to her own desk. 'Who am I looking out for?' he asks, raising his voice slightly so he can be sure that Santana actually heard him from across the room.

Santana turns and walks around her desk, sits down with a flourish and casually flicks a stray lock of hair from her eyes. 'You can't miss him,' she says casually, waving a hand dismissively as she starts sorting through the pile of paperwork that Kurt had given her a few minutes ago. 'He looks like an extra from Sweeney Todd and is probably spouting some philosophical bug crap again.'

Blaine slowly nods, tries to get up from his chair whilst weighted down with half a dozen papers against his chest. Right. Somehow, he manages it, and he makes his way slowly to the door, eyes carefully over the top of the stack of papers as he uses his elbow to get the door open. He stumbles out of the office, ignoring Santana's eye roll at his expense, and slowly makes his way down the hallway, ignoring any curious looks sent his way by his as-of-yet unnamed coworkers. Along the way, a few people stop and open doors for him, probably knowing that all of this is Santana's handiwork, and slowly but surely, he eventually finds himself in another area of the building. Really, Blaine feels like he's exploring a video game map, and every time Santana sends him on an errand, he unlocks part of the map.

The office he essentially stumbles into is tidy and organised, in a sense. Blaine looks around as much as he can with an armful of paper. There's a lot of light shining in through the large windows, and each of the desks in the room are almost clinically clean, wiped until they're shining and spotless. Blaine notices that he appears to be alone in the room at the moment, and he feels a bit awkward, just standing here with a pile of papers in his arms.

'Are you looking for me?' comes a voice from somewhere behind him, and Blaine spins around, tightening his grip on the papers to stop them from flying from his arms. His eyes land on a guy standing in the doorway to another room, hands braced on either side of the door frame and watching Blaine with a contemplative look. He's not exactly tall per se, more on the medium to tall sized spectrum, and he's wearing a black shirt and waistcoat with black dress pants, all of which seem to make him look paler than he probably actually is. Blaine guesses that this is who Santana sent him to see.

'Jean Baptiste?' he tries, watching for his reaction and desperately hoping that this is him because really, his arms are beginning to hurt.

'That depends,' the guy says with an overly pronounced sigh, wandering further into the room and taking a seat behind one of the vacant, scarily clean desks. He leans back in his chair and eyes Blaine shrewdly. 'In this lifetime I might be Jean Baptiste, but in another, I might have been someone else. If a bug was a bird in a past life, does it make that bug a bug now?'

'Erm,' Blaine says awkwardly, looking from side to side as the guy who Blaine presumes is Jean Baptiste stares expectantly at him, 'yes?'

Jean Baptiste shrugs slightly, leans back further in his chair and just looks really, really spaced out. 'Then I am him,' he says with a slow smile, idly tapping his fingers together. He leans back further and regards Blaine with an easy smile, and Blaine shifts awkwardly under the constant scrutiny. 'And you are Blaine Anderson.' Blaine stares at Jean Baptiste over the pile of papers, eyebrows furrowed and wondering how the hell this guy even knows his name. 'I make it my job to know everyone's name, Blaine,' Jean Baptiste says easily, leaning back further. Blaine's a bit concerned for his safety at this point, all the stories from when he was five years old about the kid who swung too far back on his chair and cracked his head open come rushing back to him.

It's not very reassuring.

'You see, Blaine,' Jean Baptiste continues, and Blaine feels very much like he's suddenly been thrown into a Bond movie, and Jean Baptiste is the Bond villain giving his grand speech, 'people around you are essentially competition. And do you know what we do to competition around here, Blaine?' Frankly, Blaine feels very uncomfortable with Jean Baptiste constantly saying his name, and he shifts again. There's an ache beginning to run up and down his arms, and he inwardly sighs. 'We crush them. Like many little bugs.'

'Jean?' comes a voice from the door, and Blaine feels the hairs on the back of his neck prickle, a warmth going through him. 'Stop torturing him and take the papers.'

Blaine turns his head to the side slightly, the edges of the paper pile brushing against his cheek with the small movement. There's a movement just on the edge of his field of vision, and a second later, someone steps within view. Blaine feels his breath stop and start somewhere in his chest, getting caught in his throat before he finally remembers to breathe it out. Kurt Hummel is in the same room as him again, standing right next to him with his arms folded across the broad, visible-through-the-tight-tight-shirt plains of his chest. Blaine tries to pay no attention to the way his arms look in the rolled up sleeves of his shirt, the way the shirt hugs him like it doesn't want to let him go.

Kurt turns to look at Jean Baptiste, jawline sharp in the light and skin glowing almost ethereally pale. 'Listen,' he says, voice light like summer. Blaine doesn't know why, but he feels like he could listen to that voice talk all day, 'have you got the files from last month?' Blaine thinks it might be a trick of the light, but he thinks he sees Kurt's eyes flick sideways and glance at him, just for a fleeting second. Jean Baptiste nods and gets up from his chair, walks around the desk and impressively avoids bumping his thigh or hip into any corners, and disappears through one of the doors towards the back of the room.

For a few moments, there's an awkward silence, the type that fills rooms when people don't know what to say to one another, and Kurt turns to Blaine and says, 'You know, you can put those down,' nodding at the papers still in Blaine's arms. Blaine's arms begin to cheer in celebration and relief as Blaine turns to the nearest desk and all but dumps them down, trying not to disrupt the order in which Santana had given them to him. He straightens up and turns back to look at Kurt. Kurt, who is still looking at him.

Kurt gives him an easy, relaxed smile, little dimples appearing in his cheek. 'Sorry about him,' he says, shrugging sheepishly as he nods in the direction of the door that Jean Baptiste had disappeared through. 'He can be a bit of a handful, especially for someone new here.' Blaine feels himself let out a laugh, and at the same time, the mark on his arm burns again. It doesn't burn enough to hurt him, it's not scalding against his skin or uncomfortably warm. It just itches, like something annoying is stuck on his skin.

'Sorry,' Kurt says, speaking again suddenly as though he's just remembered that he's in an office with one of his newest employees. He holds out a hand, the casual air around belying the formal gesture. 'Kurt Hummel,' he introduces with a smile, and Blaine takes his hand, shakes it and feels a part of him inside practically purr at the strength of Kurt's grip. It's strong, firm. And doing nothing to help his current thought train. 'But you already knew that, of course.' Kurt's smiling again, friendly and slightly sly.

'Blaine Anderson,' Blaine manages to say, proud of himself for not choking up like some doe-eyed school girl in front of her crush. Part of him is shaking his head, because it's a day and he's already feeling something that feels suspiciously like attraction towards his new boss. The other part of him is leaping in elation because Kurt is still holding his hand and they are still touching. Feeling emboldened, he adds, 'But you already knew that.'

Kurt laughs, lips stretched in an adorable smile as his nose scrunches up just a bit. Blaine feels his heart give another leap, another burst of warmth shooting through him like an energy shot, the mark on his arm giving another prickle. He resists the urge to itch at it. All he knows right now, aside from the feeling of familiarity that invades his mind, the same feeling from this morning, is that he'd do anything to make Kurt laugh again. Because Kurt laughing, his face unguarded and uninhibited, is like staring into some sort of heaven. It's magic. It's like looking at summer, if summer had been personified into a person.

'So how are you finding it here?' Kurt asks as his laughter trails off into small, breathy sounds that send Blaine's thought train nearly off the rails.

'It's only been a day,' Blaine can't help but point out, smiling as Kurt rolls his eyes at him. He looks at Blaine in soft amusement, lips curled in a soft smile, and Blaine can't help but notice the colour of his eyes. They're blue, but green if he moves at a certain angle in a certain light, and hints of grey and gold lay speckled around his irises. Blaine's breath catches in his throat again, a feeling of warmth and something filling every corner of his mind. The colour of Kurt's eyes – he knows that colour. Somehow, from somewhere, he knows that colour, that magical colour.

On his arm, the crown is burning again, burning like warm honey and burning so softly. Idly, he reaches his hand up to his arm and runs a finger across the sleeve of his shirt. Beneath the material, it feels slightly warmer than the rest of him, warming his fingertips.

He looks back up at Kurt, takes in his features in this light. He doesn't know why, but suddenly, everything feels like more, and there's a part of his mind, the part that continues to remain logical, that blames it on the eye contact. The brief moment where their eyes locked, and Blaine felt like he was in the heart of a soft explosion. Kurt's still smiling at him, eyes still soft and glinting with a hint of something Blaine can't place or understand. There's just a slight hint of red standing out against the high cheekbones of Kurt's face, and for a second, Blaine thinks that Kurt might have felt something similar to him.

Then the door that Jean Baptiste had gone through reopens with a bang, followed by heavy breathing and heavy footed steps as he makes his way back into the room. Blaine blinks, feeling his mind instantly clear of the fog, and the spell is broken. 'Right,' Jean Baptiste says, walking up to Kurt and holding a couple of files out to him, his hair slightly out of place and his expression slightly irritated. 'This is everything from last month, from data to evaluation.'

Kurt takes them slowly, smiling his thanks at him. He turns to Blaine again, expression slightly contemplative and eyes wondering as he regards Blaine for a few seconds. Then he says, 'Come on. I'll walk with you back up to the office.'

Blaine, despite everything, smiles and nods, follows Kurt out of the room and closes the door softly behind him. Just before it shuts with a click, Blaine can hear Jean Baptiste starting to mutter about bugs and competition again, and he stops and blinks. Kurt's standing a bit away from him, watching him and smiling in what looks like amusement. 'Ignore him,' he says with a small shrug, a casual looking smile.

Nodding, Blaine backs away from the door, eyes on it and still listening to the faint, mostly muffled mutterings of the guy inside, and he turns, falls into step with Kurt as they walk down the hallway together. It's strange, Blaine feels as he glances at Kurt every so often, walking with Kurt through crowds of people. A few people not being ushered long by pre-existing duties or the people they're with turn and look at them curiously, probably wondering why Blaine is walking with Kurt Hummel down a crowded hallway. Or maybe just why Kurt Hummel in general is walking down a crowded hallway.

It's odd, though. Mystifying. When he and Kurt walk close together, bodies nearly brushing against one another to avoid a group of harassed looking models rushing down the hallway, Blaine feels something else, something other than the warmth he's been feeling ever since he first met Kurt. The air around them, around their tiny bubble, feels heavy, charged with a powerful energy that crackles and snaps between their close hands, close enough to touch. Blaine swallows thickly, trying to get past the sudden blockage that had suddenly appeared in his throat.

All too soon, they're arriving at the door to the office, and Kurt turns to Blaine, one hand on the door handle, almost leaning against it. 'Until the next time, Blaine Anderson,' he says, smiling softly and leaning forward just an inch. He meets Kurt's eyes again, and once again, he feels enchanted. Enchanted and entranced and like he's under the spell of some higher power.

Kurt turns away, and like a snapping band, the spell breaks, and Blaine blinks. Breathes out and tries to clear his head of the static feeling that fills his mind. He takes a moment to recollect himself, hand braced on the door handle where Kurt's hand had been, and he opens it a second later, walks into the office, closes the door behind him. Santana looks up at him from her desk, looking suspiciously at him, like she knows something he doesn't. Once again, Blaine's mind flits back to the blackmail paranoia from earlier, and he walks to his desk, sits down heavily in the chair.

Santana slowly gets up, keeping her eyes trained on Blaine like a deadly predator. She wanders over to his desk with a casual sort of grace, and Blaine instantly feels anxious. She stops just short of his desk, flicks her head to the side and clears any stray hairs from her face. Blaine watches her hair bounce back into place, as if bound there by magic. 'I see you survived meeting Bugileo,' she says casually, hands on her hips. Blaine nods, and Santana tilts her head to the side as she regards him. 'How did you find him?'

'Erm,' Blaine says, instantly feeling stupid as Santana raises an eyebrow at him. 'He seems nice?' he tries, and Santana nods slowly, eyes trained on him, gaze unwavering. 'A bit – erm – eccentric,' he decides is the best word, and Santana nods again, this time in what seems like approval of his word choice.

'Did you catch all of his bug metaphors?' she asks, perching herself on the edge of Blaine's desk like an extravagantly coloured bird. She leans back enough and crosses her legs, looking at Blaine still. Blaine hesitantly nods, and Santana sighs with what seems like exasperation. 'Honestly, we only hired him at first because that space needed to be filled,' she confesses in a lower voice, adding under her breath in an amused voice and a smirk, 'Wanky.'

'Then why doesn't Kurt, well, fire him?' Blaine asks, feeling bold enough to ask and tilting his head slightly.

Santana sighs again, and this time it sounds deeply long suffering. 'Because he actually turned out to be good at the job,' she says, a hint of a whine in her voice and looking extremely pissed off that Jean Baptiste happens to be good at his job. 'And he follows the rules like, by the book.' She wrinkles her nose and rolls her eyes, her pissed off expression fading into mild annoyance. 'That means that unless Kurt wants to tarnish is shining, rainbow coloured rep around here by firing without apparent reason, we're stuck with him.'

Santana shakes her head after a moment and turns back to Blaine, game face firmly on. 'Anyway, I need you to email Artie, Custom Bow Tie,' she says, and Blaine immediately goes to his work emails, opens a blank message and types in Artie's name. Expectantly, he looks up, eyebrow raised. 'Just tell him that we're getting new laptops in at some point in the next month and they have Windows on. Also tell him that he'd better brush up on his Window repairing skills.'

Blaine blinks, but dutifully starts typing as Santana rattles off things for him to say in the email. When he confirms that he's done with that, Santana nods sharply and gets up off of his desk and begins to walk back to her own, hips swinging and hair bouncing as she walks. Her hair on her left shoulder shifts to the side slightly, enough to expose a small tattoo. It's a pair of tiny ballet shoes, dainty and elegant and pale pink in colour. For some reason, the thought of Santana finding her own soulmate makes him smile, and he returns to work.

For the next week, Blaine continues to run around, following Santana's orders and generally finding himself in different areas of the office building. Sometimes, he finds himself back in Marketing, listening to Jean Baptiste talk about bugs and about they, as humans, are doomed and how everything happens for a reason. He makes sure to hurry out of there as quickly as possible, headache already growing every time he's forced to spend extended periods of time in there.

Other times, he finds himself down in Wardrobe, talking to Elliott Eyeliner Guy. He seems nice, from what Blaine can gather about him. He doesn't talk about bugs and start going off on a philosophical talk, and he doesn't start making paper airplanes to throw out of the door at his colleagues. And he smiles a lot, which Blaine can appreciate.

Then, at the end of the week, when Blaine walks into the office at the end of the day to collect his coat and bag, he finds a coffee sitting innocently on his desk. Curious, Blaine walks forward, around his desk and picks it up, part of him feeling suspicious of the hot, steaming beverage in his hands that admittedly smells delicious. He doesn't recognise the logo on the coffee cup – it certainly isn't Starbucks, or the place around the corner from here that Blaine gets his coffee from at lunch time.

Looking down, Blaine notices a small, neatly folded note on the desk, next to the place where the coffee had been. Putting the cup down, Blaine picks up the note and unfolds it. The paper feels high quality in his hands, not like it had been hastily torn from an A4 binder bought from a generic stationary store. For some reason, the idea that someone had thought him worthy of decent quality paper makes Blaine smile. Unfolded, the note reveals writing, looping and cursive and elegant and beautiful to look at. For some reason, it fills Blaine's head with images of royalty, a prince or a king sitting on his throne or at his desk and writing out royal decrees and invitations.

The crown on his arm, as if taking a cue, begins to burn again. Blaine ignores it in favour of reading the note.

I never did thank you for buying me that coffee, did I? I hope I got your coffee order correct

Somehow – how, he wasn't sure – Blaine knows that the note has come from Kurt. He knows that the sloped, cursive writing on the thick paper was written by Kurt. He feels the corners of his mind fill with the warm, hazy fog, gold and fiery red like flickering flames. He smiles, clutches the paper that bit more tightly, more closely to his chest, his heart.

When he takes a sip of his coffee, his heart practically bursts with the warmth that travels through his body, and something inside him explodes. The taste is perfect and the temperature is just right – and Blaine knows he risks sounding like a Goldie Locks Cliché when he says that, but he means it. He doesn't think he's ever had coffee so perfect in his life.

There's also the lingering thought in the back of his mind, wrapping it's arms around him in a warm embrace, that Kurt knows his coffee order.

Chapter Text

'So let me get this straight,' Tina says around the straw poking out of the corner of her mouth, quickly leaning forward to take a sip of her vodka and coke. 'You've been having hot eye sex – '

'It's not eye sex!' Blaine interrupts her quickly, flapping his hands to try and shush her, or at least get her to lower her voice. He looks around them awkwardly, at the other tables filled with couples and groups of people. Somewhere near the bar, there's a table full of guys Blaine's pretty sure are college graduate aged who are wearing extravagant bird costumes.

'You've been making eye contact – therefore, eye sex,' Tina says, rolling her eyes like she thinks Blaine's being stupid. She then goes back to her original point and continues, 'You've been having hot eye sex with your boss and he's been leaving you coffee?'

'He knows my coffee order,' Blaine adds in a weird sort of mumble, blushing. At this moment in time, he's grateful for the low lighting in this bar, hiding the red that stains his cheeks. Tina full out grins at him from across the table and takes another sip of her drink. She looks contemplative as she regards Blaine, not taking her eyes off him for a few seconds. Blaine sighs, hand going to the opposite arm and fingers trailing lightly over his mark again, the tiny crown marked on his skin.

He thinks about it and, with some deliberation, he decides to mention it to Tina. He'd considered asking Santana about it, seeing as her mark had lost the silhouette nature of it, but he quickly realised that asking Santana would mean admitting to less than platonic thoughts about his boss and, from what he'd gathered, her friend. And admitting that would either mean giving her blackmail material for life, or facing potential castration.

That idea had been thrown out of the metaphorical window fairly quickly.

'Tina,' he says carefully, keeping his face neutral as he runs his straw around his glass in slow circles, stirring the alcohol into the rest of the orange juice, 'what was it like when you met Mike? When you knew he was the one?' he adds, stirring his vodka again, keeps his eyes down on the table. He examines the cracks in the wooden, circle table with great detail. He hears Tina exhale heavily, and looks back up in time to see her look off into the distance, expression dreamy and bordering on faraway.

'When I looked into his eyes,' Tina begins, voice soft like a heavenly sigh in the morning, 'I felt complete, for the first time in my life.' She shivers a bit, running her hands up and down her bare arms. 'It was like waking up. And the first time we kissed...' she trails off, eyes glazing over with memories, 'Suddenly everything was brighter. More vibrant. Better.' She smiles happily, softly. She strokes a hand idly across the side of her neck, just underneath her ear, where Blaine knows her own mark is. Blinking, she seems to snap out of her trance and looks at Blaine, questioning. 'Why?'

'Did your mark ever burn?' Blaine asks, pressing his fingers into the crown again. It's a strange sensation, doing that, because it doesn't hurt as such. It feels like he's pressing on a mostly-healed bruise – the pressure on it feels weirdly good. It still burns beneath his fingers, hasn't really stopped since he and Kurt spent a good twenty seconds just staring at each other from across the hallway, eyes locked and the crackling, electric connection between them drawing them closer to one another.

'Sometimes,' Tina answers with a small shrug, removing her hand from her neck and placing around her glass. 'Again, why?' Blaine says nothing and carefully keeps his eyes down on his drink. Something in his expression must give his thoughts away, though, because suddenly Tina lets out a sharp exhale of breath, a soft murmur too quiet for Blaine to catch, and a quiet giggle. Blaine looks up again and Tina's staring at him, expression a mixture of fondness and knowing.

'What?' he asks, accidentally backing into the defensive zone. Tina shakes her head and smiles, fingers wrapping delicately around the neon orange straw as she takes another sip.

'Nothing,' she says, shaking her head again slowly. She looks at him, eyes wide and suspiciously glassy with what look like tears. 'My Blainey days is growing up,' she all but whispers, leaning forward a bit and patting his arm, smiling. Blaine doesn't ask what she means. Instead, he smiles politely, if a little bit confused, and nods along with her. She coughs and asks, 'So what are your plans for the holidays?'

They're three weeks into December now, and Blaine feels like time is nothing but a passing blur to him now. Every morning when he rushes out of his apartment building and down the street, the ground is paved and coated with a fine layer of frost, causing him to slip and slide as he hurries to the subway station. The air is bitingly cold, nipping at any bit of bare skin it can find and freezing it until it's numb – Blaine's started going to work in a thicker coat, a scarf and gloves, and he occasionally shoves a couple of hand warmers inside his coat pocket to try and stave off the cold for a little while longer.

Blaine shrugs. 'Not sure,' he admits, idly continuing to stir the drink around and around the glass. He watches Tina watch the straw for a moment before continuing. 'I'd go home but my parents are off on a second honeymoon.' And somehow, the prospect of sitting in an empty apartment, that's about ten times smaller than his parents' house, is far more appealing than sitting in an empty house at Christmas.

Tina eyes him, judgement written all over her face. 'You can't spend Christmas alone, Blaine.' Blaine shrugs again, because really, it doesn't matter. Idly, he itches a bit at the crown, blunt nails digging into the skin but not really doing anything. Tina stays silent for another minute, regarding him with that look again. Then: 'What about any parties?' she asks, mouth beginning to turn upward with a growing smile. 'Any office parties you're going to?'

Blaine shrugs again. 'Not that I know of.'

Tina stares at him, her expression fading from judgemental into full-out doubt. 'I don't believe that, Blaine Anderson,' she answers, picking up her glass and taking another sip, leaning back a bit against the backrest of her chair. 'You work for Vogue, and you're telling me that they don't throw parties?' She snorted in derision. 'Bullshit.' Another sip, a blink. 'You're telling me that you'd pass up the chance to see Kurt Hummel out of work, and probably dressed down?'

'It's not that!' Blaine immediately vehemently denies, because of course he'd love to see Kurt out of work, 'it's just – ' I'm not sure whether I'd be able to control myself around him if he's dressed down and shows more skin and I can't guarantee not being a gibbering idiot. He doesn't say any of that, keeps his mouth firmly shut because knowing his luck, he'd end up spilling all of those thoughts to Tina. 'I don't know if there's even gonna be one.'

Tina hums and narrows her eyes at him, like she can detect the bullshit just by his tone of voice, but she doesn't say anything else on the matter. Blaine's thankful for that. He also prays, to whatever diety happens to be listening, that Tina doesn't remember all of this conversation in the morning, because the last thing he wants to do is talk about his Potential Soulmate Problems with a sober Tina. He sits back and lets Tina talk his ear off about the issues that Mike's having with trying to raise a dog despite what Tina told him, and he smiles and nods.

'Remember, Blaine!' Jean Baptiste calls from his office as Blaine hastily leaves the room, pushing the door open with his shoulder, as the use of his hands is currently a no-go, thanks to the huge, huge folder that Jean Baptiste had dumped in his arms, 'Bugs. Crush.' Blaine hears the sound effect of a bug being squashed, and he quickly shuts the door behind him. There's only so much bug talk he can take in one day. Taking a deep breath and calming himself down, he pushes himself away from the door and starts to walk down the hallway.

Everyone here, Blaine's noticed, seems to be happier today – hell, the entire week, near enough. He isn't sure what it is, whether or not Kurt's put something in all of the water coolers or the aircon, but everyone in general seems to be more cheerful, talking quickly and bouncing up and down with a bubbly, infectious energy. At one point, Blaine's pretty sure he saw a group of guys and girls break out into a quiet song and start dancing. It's bizarre.

Then again, he reasons as he narrowly avoids a chirpy looking girl in a Santa Claus hat running down the hallway, blonde hair flying behind her, it's the end of the week and the beginning of everyone's break. It's not so bizarre that everyone would be happy about Christmas coming, or the fact that they get a break from work. And it's the end of the day, which would definitely help with raising people's spirits. That thought in mind, he trudges on, fingers occasionally slipping on the edges of the folder, arms shaking under the weight of the thing. Around him, the halls are decked out in tasteful-coloured tinsel and shining, silver snowflakes. The colour scheme is pretty fantastic, all in all, and one thing that Blaine has noticed is that there is no hint of an obnoxiously coloured bauble anywhere, no bright red tinsel or haphazardly thrown decorations.

He reaches the office and somehow gets the door open with a combination of talented elbow work and shoving on the door with his shoulder again. Once inside, he staggers over to Santana's desk, now devoid of the woman herself, and dumps the folder on top of everything else she's piled on it. She can deal with it after the holidays. He glances over at his desk, blinking tiredly, and despite the weariness he feels in his bones and the deep longing for a day of pure sleeping, he smiles.

The coffee is sitting on his desk.

The crown burns a bit hotter as Blaine makes his way over, his heart stuttering and starting as he takes hold of the cup and picks it up. He relishes in the warmth that permeates his skin, just from the cup-to-hand contact alone. There's no note this time, there hasn't been one since the first time Kurt had left one here for him. Although Kurt has never outright confirmed that it's him leaving the anonymous cups of coffee, the light in his eyes and the smile on his lips whenever he looks Blaine's way on a Friday says it all.

There's the sound of a softly closing door behind him, and Blaine whirls around, nearly dropping the coffee in the process. It takes him a second to register that it's Kurt standing in the middle of the room, hands in the pockets of his black coat and scarf wrapped around his neck. He gives Blaine a small smile, and something inside Blaine lights up in happiness. There's a silence that follows, neither of them wanting to break the heavy, electric-charged connection that lies between them again.

Kurt speaks first, his voice slow, light like freshly fallen snow, 'So what're you doing for the holidays, Blaine?' He speaks as though he's trying to keep the connection going, tries to keep the spell that hovers over them alive. And the way that he says Blaine's name... Blaine just wants to curl up, to blanket himself in that voice forever, the feeling of safety and security that it brings him. The warmth, the all enshrouding happiness.

'Nothing, really,' Blaine says with a small shrug, waiting for the inevitable breaking of the spell. It doesn't snap like he expects. Instead, it stays in place, and the air continues to almost vibrate with a hidden energy, the room warm around them. 'Quiet year for me,' he adds, nodding to himself. A quiet Christmas this year sounds good to him. He takes a step backwards as Kurt brushes past him, walks to the door and opens it. He turns his head and looks expectantly at Blaine, smiling. Blaine quickly puts down his coffee and shrugs on his coat, picks the cup up and follows him, coffee in hand, and closes his eyes when Kurt leans past him to shut the door behind them, locks it. 'What about you?' he asks quickly, trying to distract himself from their closeness.

'I'm flying home tomorrow,' Kurt answers with a small shrug, still smiling. He looks curiously at Blaine. 'Are you going to the New Years Eve party?' he asks as they turn a corner, steps slow and measured, as though wading through syrup. Something in Blaine's expression must give away his lack of knowledge on what this party is, because Kurt frowns for a second. The smile returns quickly, though. 'Every year, Vogue throws a huge party, usually for New Years Eve, and they're pretty spectacular.' As if by coincidence, they happen to walk past a photocopying machine, sheets of paper lying uncollected in the tray on the side. Kurt snatches one as they walk by, reaches into his pocket and takes out a pen. He then quickly scribbles on it and hands it to Blaine. 'This year, it's being held at this address,' he says, pointing at the piece of crinkled paper.

Blaine takes a deep breath and smiles. 'Okay,' he agrees, heart dancing in elation inside his chest. 'I'll go to it.'

Kurt grins at him, teeth showing and nose scrunching up adorably. Honestly, if Blaine could say or do something to make Kurt smile like that, he'd do it a thousand times over. They fall into another comfortable silence after that, their footsteps echoing in the quietness that surrounds them. As they step inside the elevator and stand side by side, the air crackles and snaps, warms around Blaine and makes everything feel like more. As if it knows, the mark burns again, this time burning hotter than any other time. It feels like it should be bordering on painful, like someone has set a spark off on his arm and under his skin, but for some reason, it just feels – pleasant.

The elevator ride ends, the doors open and they step out at the same time. The lobby is silent and still, devoid of anyone there. Blaine suspects that he and Kurt are the only two left in the building, possibly apart from the cleaning staff and possibly Jean Baptiste, but Blaine can't be sure about him because part of him suspects that Jean Baptiste lives in his office and spends his time ranting to the spiders. If spiders dare come anywhere near this building. Everyone knows that Kurt has no patience for actual, real life bugs (that aren't butterflies or ladybugs – apparently, according to Santana, there's a list of approved bugs that are allowed in the building), and he hires exterminators on a regular basis just to make sure that they stay outside where they belong.

Blaine chances a look at Kurt, and he nearly stops breathing. Kurt's looking at him, his eyes dark and glinting, and everything about his expression makes Blaine want to grab his face and just kiss him. Kiss him until they both forget how to breathe, until they drown in the onslaught of emotions that currently surround them. In the low light that shines down on them, the pale winter sun that shines through the high windows around them, Kurt looks stunning. A higher being, dressed to the nines, in a world of lesser creatures.

And they walk together, walk to the doors with their steps landing in time, and Kurt smiles at him as he places a hand on the door to push it open. 'Have a good Christmas, Blaine,' he says softly, voice low like sin and soft like clouds. And then he turns away, walks out of the door and towards the black car that's waiting for him. His coat flaps around him in the cold wind, his hair threatening to break out of it's hairspray prison. A man steps out of the driver's side, walks around the car and opens one of the doors at the back. With a last glance over his shoulder at Blaine, Kurt clambers into the car, shutting the door behind him, and the car drives away.

Blaine watches it until he can't see it any more, until it's barely a black spot in a sea of cars. And then he turns and walks the other way, hands deep in his pockets and heart thrumming. It feels like something is running across his skin, and if he thinks about it hard enough, he can pinpoint the origins as the crown tattoo and his heart. He smiles and sighs, hurries to the subway station and down the steps.

That night, he dreams of the pool and crown again. This time, the colours are more vibrant than before, and there's a feeling of anticipation in the air, like his own subconscious knows that something is coming, is going to happen. He's back on his cloud, the surface soft beneath him, bouncy and fluffy like sinking into the world's softest bed. Around him, there are stars twinkling down at him, the higher-most top of the sky painted in vibrant blue, midnight black and royal purple, the stars brilliant white and shining silver against it. A little further down, the darkness fades into light, bright orange and red and yellow and pink, fresh like the morning in May. At the very bottom of the sky of colours lies the pool.

Blaine leans over the side of the cloud slightly, and he looks into the water. Just like before, the water is bright blue, bright green and grey and gold and so very beautiful it hurts to look at it. The golden crown lies at the centre of it, blinking and flickering like the flames like begin to rise from it. Everything in the dream goes much the same as it did before, except there is a crucial difference. Before, there had been the bare minimum of a person, a blurred outline so Blaine could only guess who it might be, despite the near certain suspicion.

The flames and water flicker and shimmer and shift, forming a shape, something with matter and something larger than the flame and the crown. Like before, there's a person standing in the sparkling, magical waters, and this time, Blaine can see that it's Kurt. He can see the fine details of his face – his slightly upturned nose; the slightly mischievousness smile; the slight splattering of pale freckles against marble skin; his eyes that shine like the night trapped inside a diamond.

Everything feels so intense, so mystical and beautiful and searing like fire, that Blaine can only stare in wonder, awe, amazement, pure and utter adoration. Nothing has ever looked quite so beautiful as Kurt does in this moment, and Blaine reaches out, leans down from his cloud, arm and hand outstretched, to try and brush against his arm, to take his hand. He nearly manages it, but as his fingers get close to Kurt's shoulder, Kurt gives him the same look as he had done earlier, his eyes darkening and glittering, and Blaine's breath catches.

He wakes up a second later in his apartment, shaking and shivering with a layer of sweat coating his forehead. The dream is already fading from his mind, and all he can do is grasp at the little things, try and keep them in his hands even as they slip between his fingers like sand in an hourglass.

Eventually, all he's left with is the image of the flickering, shimmering crown, the other details faded into the back of his mind. Blaine sighs and pulls the covers more tightly around him, cocoons himself inside them, and falls back asleep.

For Blaine, Christmas comes and goes in something close to a blur. He spends time with Wes and David, going from bar to bar to the occasional club, and he has to endure their shit eating grins when he drunkenly spills his feelings for his boss. His mother phones him on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, tells him about the second honeymoon and how things are going generally, and Cooper calls him about girlfriend troubles because he accidentally bought her present at the last minute.

Ultimately, though, he gets through the week without too many issues. A cat somehow gets into his apartment and he has to spend a day with it wandering around, jumping on his couch and bed and into his bathtub, before it's owner figures out that they're down a cat and come to collect it. Tina comes around with a bottle of champagne and they spend the night drinking and crying about romance and soulmates.

And then, suddenly, it's New Years Eve, and Blaine is sitting on his bed. All of the covers are half way to the floor, he's sitting in his undershirt and boxers and his phone is currently open on the last text he received from Santana ('got your name on the list. just give it to baldemort the bouncer'). Across from him, hung across the back of his bedroom door, is the outfit he'd specifically chosen last night – white dress shirt and black bow tie, black pants and black, grey and silver waistcoat. He'd had Elliott double check that it looked fine, and it was only after reassurances that it looked fine that Blaine had decided on it.

He's second guessing his decision to attend the party, if he's honest. He's nervous about seeing Kurt again, in a room full of who he assumes are going to be fairly important people. In the week leading up to Christmas break, he'd heard Kurt and Santana whispering about crossing someone off the list to the party, and when Elliott had come into the office, he'd apparently agreed with them. And it's been a week since he's seen Kurt – his heart is racing with anticipation, thrumming with just the thought of seeing him again.

He's kind of worried about jumping Kurt when he sees him again, if he's honest.

But he also knows that if he doesn't go to the party, then Santana will literally come down here and drag him there herself. Hell, Tina would probably help her. That thought in mind, Blaine gets up off of the bed, pads out of the room and into the bathroom and quickly showers, sorts himself out and makes himself look somewhere closer to presentable. He shaves, dries his hair until most of the wetness is gone and gels down the untameable mass of curls that live on top of his head.

Back in the bedroom, he stares at the outfit for a long, lingering moment, breathing in and out in deep, measured breaths. Slowly, he reaches out and takes the shirt off the hanger and slowly pulls it on, buttons it up to the chin. He does the same with the pants – pulls them on and up, does the zipper and button up. Pulls on the bow tie and ties it neatly around his neck; shrugs on the waistcoat and does up the buttons. Blaine turns and walks back into the bathroom and looks at himself in the mirror, assessing his own reflection and whether he looks good enough or not.

Acceptable, he decides, after some deliberation. Nodding to himself, he walks back into his bedroom, grabs his coat and pulls it on. On the way to the front door, he grabs his wallet and keys from the shelf next to the door and shoves them both into his coat pockets, opens the door and steps through it, locks it behind him and sets off down the deserted hallway, gets in the elevator and goes down to the bottom floor. Once there, he quickly hurries to the door to the building, pushes it open and steps outside.

Once he's gotten a cab, Blaine tells the taxi driver where to go, and he leans back in his seat and idly checks his phone. Tina's texted him a good luck message for tonight, telling him to go and get 'his man', and he smiles at it. Wes and David are carrying on about being 'one man short' for one of their friend's bachelor party tonight, and Elliott's texted him to confirm that the outfit he's wearing is, in fact, the outfit they picked out last night. Humming slightly, he slides the phone back into his pocket and rests his hands on his thighs, glancing out of the windows every so often. The streets pass by relatively quickly, streetlights and buildings blurring into a single line when he turns his head a certain way.

He taps his fingers against the material of his pants every so often, unable to keep still. Blaine feels that energy again, running over his skin like exploding goosebumps, and the anticipation of seeing Kurt again feels stronger than it did before. He's nervous and excited and terrified of messing it up and just so looking forward to it that he doesn't know how to keep still. He forces himself to still. Presses two fingers against the crown tattoo again, a habit he's apparently gotten into since the connection became stronger and more permanent.

The taxi eventually pulls over at a large building, and as Blaine gets out of the car, hands over the fare and shuts the door, he eyes bright lights shining from the windows, the large man waiting by the door with a clipboard in his hand. His bald head shines brightly in the glow of a nearby streetlight, and Blaine assumes that this is the 'Baldemort' Santana told him to look out for. Clearing his throat and mentally clearing his mind, Blaine walks over to the doors and smiles politely at the man.

'Name?' the guy says in a bored, monotonous voice, not looking at Blaine. He scribbles something down on his clipboard, and Blaine clears his throat again before speaking.

'Blaine Anderson.'

For a moment, there's an awkward silence as Baldemort rakes his eyes over the board, humming and grunting under his breath occasionally. Eventually he speaks again, scribbling something else down on his board. 'Go on, then,' he says, stepping away from the door and allowing Blaine to pass him by. Blaine nods his thanks to Baldemort – and Blaine knows he really needs to stop calling him that. He blames Santana for this – and steps past him, opens the door and wanders inside.

He's immediately hit by a blast of mercifully warm air, heating up his frozen face and bringing life back into his general mood. Looking around, he takes in his surroundings – he's apparently in some kind of lobby, with a few chairs and couches dotted around the place and a hotel-like reception desk placed along one of the side walls. There are even little stands with pamphlets near the desk, telling people what they can do during their time in New York.

There's a woman sat at the reception desk, red hair braided around her head like Daenerys Targaryen and looking immensely bored, Behind her, there seems to be a pile of coats, scarves and what appears to be general outerwear. Blaine slowly ambles over to the desk, and the woman looks up, bored expression immediately shifting into a polite smile. 'Hi,' she says, her voice overly chirpy, like a saleslady who's trying to sell something, 'can I help you?'

'Hey,' Blaine smiles at her in return, nodding at the pile of coats behind her, 'is this wear I can leave my coat?'

'Yes,' the woman nods, still smiling, and she stands up, walks over to a small box on the other side of the desk and opens it. 'All you do is leave your coat here and I'll assign a number to it – the coat gets a tag and you get a card with the number on. At the end of the night, you give me the card and I give you the coat.' She continues to smile, and Blaine politely smiles back again, slowly shrugs off his coat and tucks his wallet, keys and phone into the pockets of his pants before handing it over to her. He watches her stick a tag to the lapel of the coat – number 216 – and she hands him a card with the same number one. 'Here you go, sir. Enjoy the party!'

Blaine politely thanks her, pockets the card and turns, walks to the door that Blaine presumes leads to the actual party, and steps inside.

The room he steps into is large, filled with people talking amongst one another, laughing loudly and dancing together. There are tables lined up along the walls, filled with various drinks and snacks, and there's a bar along the far most wall. A few people, Blaine notes, have drifted over to the bar and are sitting on the stools, drinks in hand. The clothing style, from what Blaine can see, ranges from black tie, to casual, to full-out eccentric. He takes a few steps forward, heads over to where someone is handing out strawberry daiquiris, and stumbles when someone falls against his side.

'Blaine!' slurs a voice in his ear, and Blaine immediately recognises it as Elliott's. 'You came!' Elliott slings an arm around his shoulders and neck, and he practically hangs off of Blaine, and he twists around until he's looking at Blaine, smile wide and eyes slightly glazed over. His eyeliner is slightly smudged, streaks of glitter going down his face and lying in patches. 'See? Aren't Kurt's parties like, amazing?'

'Alright, Starchild,' says a blonde haired woman, walking up to them and smiling at Blaine apologetically. 'Come on. Let's go.' She gently tugs on Elliott's arm, coaxing him to let go of Blaine, and he lets go with a slight whimper. 'Kurt's over there, sweetie,' she all but coos at him, pointing to the bar, and Elliott's face lights up. Blaine watches him stand up straight and bound away, nonplussed, and the woman turns back to him. 'Sorry about him,' she says with another apologetic smile, and Blaine thinks she looks absolutely adorable. He also vaguely recognises her from somewhere – where, though, he can't remember. 'He loves Christmas, but he loves the New Year more.'

'No, it's fine,' Blaine says with a small laugh, waving it off dismissively. He holds out a hand to her and smiles. 'Blaine,' he introduces, and the woman smiles, takes his hand and shakes it.

'Dani,' she returns with a grin of her own, whipping her head around to look at someone. 'Listen, I've gotta run and see to someone,' she says, looking back at Blaine with another apologetic expression, 'but I'll catch up with you later, okay?' And Blaine nods, Dani smiles at him widely and gratefully, and she runs off. Her blonde hair flies behind her, and Blaine realises then that she was the girl that he'd nearly bumped into on the last day of work before Christmas, the one wearing the Santa hat.

Blaine gets his strawberry daiquiri, wanders around and talks with some of his coworkers. He laughs and smiles and jokes with them and yeah, he's actually having a good time. At some point, someone clears a space in the middle of the floor and creates a pseudo dance floor, and couples rush out, stumbling and giggling, and start dancing to whichever song happens to be playing over the sound system. Blaine watches them for a bit, sipping at whatever drink he happens to have in his hand, until a hand tapping his elbow distracts him.

'Hm?' he hums, turning around to face whoever wanted his attention. He smiles when he lands eyes on who it is. 'Oh, hey Mercedes,' he greets politely. He'd met Mercedes by accident at work one day, when he'd accidentally stumbled into the wrong area – she'd been happy enough to point him in the right direction of the models, and had warned him about Sue Sylvester, the director as such of the models. 'How's it going?'

'I'm here with my boyfriend,' she says with an elated smile, nodding in the direction of the bar. Blaine follows her gaze and it lands on a tall blonde man, who turns around in that exact moment. He waves at them – well, Mercedes, Blaine assumes – and Mercedes giggles and blows him a kiss. Blaine absently notes that on Mercedes' wrist, there's a tiny tattoo of what looks like a puppy paw, pale brown and cream in colour, and he smiles for her. 'And let me guess,' she says, turning back to Blaine and smile turning sly, 'you're here for Kurt?'

Blaine attempts to splutter out a response to that, but Mercedes just holds up a hand, halting his efforts. 'Don't even bother to deny it,' she says, her tone just screaming don't even argue with me. 'I've seen the way you two look at each other. Your little smiles across the room.' She rolls her eyes and smiles. 'Relax, Blaine,' she smiles, more gently this time, 'I think you should go for it.'

And Blaine smiles at her in thanks, because really, his nerves have been high ever since he'd entered the room. He's spotted Kurt a few times tonight so far, usually across the room. He can't see him very well through the crowd, but he knows it's him, because he'd know him anywhere. Tonight, the air seems heavier than ever, and that ever present spark inside him keeps flickering, jumping, just waiting to be set alight to explode in a magnificent display.

Blaine blinks, snapping himself out of his drifting thoughts, and there's suddenly a blonde girl standing in front of him. He blinks, and she stares at him. Her blonde hair lies over her shoulders, a single braid tangled into the rest of the waves that surround her pretty face. She stares at him contemplatively for a few seconds, and Blaine shifts under the scrutiny, not really sure of what to do or say. Then: 'You look like a hobbit,' she says bluntly, her voice having a slightly dreamy quality to it. Blaine blinks again.

'Thank you?' he tries awkwardly, and the girl doesn't explain it. She stares for another second.

'Also, you look ridiculous,' she informs him solemnly, then adds, 'I look awesome.'

'Yes you do, Britt Britt,' comes a voice from the side, and a second later, Santana steps into Blaine's field of vision, standing next to the girl and smiling fondly at her. The girl smiles back at her, and Santana leans in to give her a surprisingly gentle peck on the lips. She pulls back, turns to Blaine with a flick of her hair. 'Shorty-Wan Kenobi,' she starts, smirking at her own nickname, 'this is my girlfriend, Brittany.' Blaine nods at her in greeting, still smiling awkwardly, and Santana returns her attention to her girlfriend. 'Come on, boo. Let's go bully Monsieur Bugs Life,' she says with a smile, this one less of a smirk and softer. If soft was like a white hot knife, but this is Santana.

She holds out her pinkie finger, and Brittany takes it. They walk off in perfect synchronisation, Santana's tight black dress swaying with every motion and her tightly curled hair looking beautiful against her back. Blaine watches them from afar for a moment, watches as they sneak up on Jean Baptiste like the twins from the Shining.

He feels him before he sees him. The tattoo on his arm begins to burn hotter again, sending bursts of warmth through him like it's shooting through his veins and through his heart. 'Hey,' comes a soft voice from behind him, soft and light like summer sunshine in the early morning, and Blaine turns slowly. Kurt is standing there, looking so beautiful in this light it physically hurts Blaine to look at him. His outfit – a white dress shirt, a skinny black tie and a blazer with silvery, shining patterns of New York painted across the material, which had been mixed with tight-looking black pants – seems to cling to him, hugging him like it doesn't want to let him go, and it looks fantastic on him.

'Hey,' Blaine returns, swallowing heavily and forcing himself to breathe. Kurt just stares at him, something glinting in his eyes that's far beyond what Blaine can guess it to be. Blaine feels like he's been thrown under a spotlight, just standing there for Kurt to watch, and he smiles. Tries to force himself to remain calm and just breathe. 'How was your Christmas?' he asks, and Kurt just looks at him. There's something quietly vulnerable in his face that Blaine feels like only he can see, like everyone else in the room isn't even here.

'It was...' Kurt trails off, apparently searching for the right word on the tip of his tongue. Blaine can tell when he comes up with the right word, because there's a shift in his eyes, like a light changed brightness. Blaine's heart stutters again, and Blaine feels like he's having palpitations. 'Uneventful,' he says with another small smile, gentle like a soft breeze on a summer night. 'My brother and my best friend finally got back together, so that's a plus.' A beat. 'What about yours?'

Blaine sighs and smiles at Kurt. 'The same,' he says with a small shrug, then adds, 'Well, not the brother and best friend part. The uneventful part.'

And Kurt laughs, his eyes crinkling up the way they do when he's genuinely amused by something tiny. Conversation lapses into comfortable silence, accented and surrounded by the charged energy that connected them, connected them like a red line between their hearts, minds and souls. Blaine looks at Kurt, just looks at him, and that warm feeling that he's been feeling ever since he first met Kurt suddenly flares up like fire. Everything feels like more now, everything feels brighter and hotter and the air around them thrums and the energy crawls across his skin.

'Come on,' Kurt says, his voice that bit lower, and he takes Blaine by the hand, gripping tightly, and Blaine's heart nearly explodes there and then. He allows himself to be pulled along through the crowds of people, weaving and dodging the tables and anyone who tries to stop and speak to Kurt, and out of another door. Kurt leads them down another hallway, this one short, and out of a glass door at the end. They step out onto a porch of some sort, stone beneath their feet, and Kurt slows them to a stop.

He doesn't let go of Blaine's hand.

Blaine looks around them, and he feels his breath catch. They're looking at a park – whether it's Central Park, he doesn't know. It's too dark to tell – and the stars above them shine down so brightly, so silvery and beautiful against painted swirls of blue, black and purple. He turns his head to look at Kurt, and Kurt is smiling softly, fondly with what look like memories and a glint of something else.

'This is why I chose this place, actually,' Kurt admits with a small smile, slightly sheepish this time, and Blaine laughs a bit. Kurt tucks his hands into the pockets of his pants and tilts his head back to look at the sky and stars, exposing the long column of his pale neck. Blaine's thought train momentarily goes off the rails. 'How are you finding the party?' he asks, looking back at Blaine with softly glittering eyes. He smirks a little. 'Did you run into Brittany and Santana?'

Blaine laughs again. 'Yeah, they went off to torment Jean,' he explains, and Kurt smirks again, like he knew that Blaine was going to say that. Blaine wonders, absently, whether he should fear for Jean Baptiste's life or mental health. 'But yeah, it's been great,' he adds, grinning at him. Kurt glances down at his watch, and back up at Blaine, and there's a question in his eyes, another smile on his lips.

'It's nearly midnight,' he says, voice lowering to almost a whisper, a caress to Blaine's ears.

And Blaine replies, 'So it is.' And the air around them thickens, like they're sealed inside a bubble that separates them from the rest of the party, the rest of the world. They are the only two things in the world that matter now. The crown is burning more than ever now, searing into his skin like someone's placed a white hot iron on it and is pressing down down down, down into his skin and through his body. Distantly, they can hear the countdown beginning, drifting upwards towards them from the room inside and the parties happening around them.

He and Kurt don't move. They're frozen in place, eyes locked together and their minds ensnared by the hazy, golden fog that fills every inch of their minds. The countdown continues around them, permeates their bubble with an echoing 5... 4... 3... 2... 1...

And as if pulled to each other by some higher force or power, Kurt and Blaine lunge at each other, their lips locking in an explosion that would give the fireworks overhead a run for their money. Blaine presses back frantically, every slip slide of Kurt's lips against his, every frantic breath drawn sending his mind spiralling into oblivion. Kissing Kurt, holding his face in his hands whilst he tries to pull him in closer, is like waking up from a long sleep, is like leaping into fire and drowning in a peaceful, still lake. Every tiny motion they make, every skirt that Kurt's hand makes across Blaine's waist and back, are like fireworks, hot and brilliant and vibrant.

Blaine doesn't know who pulls back first for breath, but Blaine leans his forehead against Kurt's, hands still loosely cupping Kurt's strong jaw, and he lets out a breathless giggle. Kurt's arms remain where they are – around his waist and pull him in that bit closer. Somewhere above them, fireworks explode in a majestic display, red and green and gold and white exploding into thousands of stars and cinders.

'Beautiful,' Kurt murmurs softly as he looks up at the sky, his smile awe-filled and his lips red and swollen.

'Yes, you are,' Blaine agrees fully, and he only has a fleeting glimpse of Kurt's surprised smile before Blaine pulls him down for another kiss, trailing his lips along Kurt's jaw to the side of his neck, just underneath his ear. Nothing can ever feel as good as this, nothing can ever compare to this moment. Blaine knows this deep in his gut, and he'll happily do this forever. He trails his lips back up to Kurt's ear and breathes against it, just to feel Kurt shiver against him. 'I feel like I've been looking for you forever,' he murmurs into Kurt's ear, moving his hands from his neck and jaw to his waist, pulling him in tight and tucking his head over Kurt's shoulder.

Kurt hums happily, hugs him more tightly for a moment, but doesn't say anything. He doesn't have to. Blaine knows, without asking, that Kurt feels the same way. He can feel it in the way he can feel Kurt's heart beat against his, the steady thrum of blood beneath the fingers that grip into his skin, the slightly strawberry daiquiri flavoured kisses. Kurt shifts his head on Blaine's shoulder and murmurs, 'Do you wanna go back to the party or do you wanna come back to mine?'

Blaine answers him by pulling him in for another deep kiss, and Kurt's hands fly to his waist, hums deep in his throat. Above them, the stars continue to shine brightly, the fireworks explode over and over again. Blaine doesn't care about those, though. The only thing he cares about is right here on Earth with him. Kurt takes his hand again and takes a single step back, his eyes never leaving his.

'Come on,' Kurt says in a low voice, glancing over his shoulder for a quick second. 'I know a short cut.'

And Blaine lets himself be dragged by this perfect entity, and everything feels right in the world for the first time in what feels like an eternity.

As Blaine and Kurt simultaneously push open the door to the office on the first day back, Santana glances up at them. Almost immediately, she grimaces in their direction, and she gets up from the edge of her desk, dumping down the folder she'd been looking through. Kurt snorts under his breath and Blaine just smiles at her, hands Kurt his morning coffee. In return, Kurt hands Blaine his, and they smile at each other, saying nothing.

'Oh, don't start this!' Santana groan from her side of the room, glaring at them through heavily made-up eyes, hands on her hips. She looks like she's about to go and kick something. Or someone, if said something isn't available. 'Don't be that lovey-dovey couple that everyone hates.' Kurt raises an eyebrow at her, and Santana continues ranting, throwing her hands up for good measure. 'I mean, I'm fine with you two being pretty, kinky ponies, but please don't rub it in before lunch time.' She pauses, apparently thinking her words over. 'And I mean that literally and metaphorically.'

'When you first met Brittany, she came into work with you for a week,' Kurt says lightly, pulling Blaine by the hand to the door of his office. 'And don't think I don't know what you were doing in Jean's storage closet.' He raises an eyebrow pointedly, and opens the door to his office, pulls Blaine inside it with him.

'You don't have time to start anything wanky!' Santana calls helpfully after them, sounding frustrated. Kurt shuts the door behind him, and he smiles at Blaine, eyes shining brightly like a thousand galaxies.

'Thank you,' Kurt says softly, drawing him in and wrapping his arms around Blaine's shoulders, mindful of the coffee cup in his hand. At Blaine's inquisitive look, he adds, 'For being you. For being here,' in a soft, awed voice. Blaine leans forward, closes the distance between them and presses a quick kiss to his lips, chasing the taste of coffee in his mouth. Blaine loves this, kissing Kurt. Kissing Kurt, for him, is like having a spark lit inside him all over again, every single time.

It's exhilarating, breathtaking, amazing.

Blaine pulls back, and Kurt smiles at him as he brushes past him to get to his desk, starts sorting out various files and papers for the morning. As he does that, Blaine raises his arm and rolls up the sleeve further. Underneath it lies the crown tattoo, shining and bright and golden against his skin. It's slightly warmer than the rest of him, but no longer burning, no longer filling the air around him with a strange energy, no longer making everything seem heavy and hot and so much too much.

Everything is perfect now, and Blaine smiles.