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Raindrops on Roses

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Kurt hadn’t always lived in the city. Once upon a time, he lived with his father and his mother in a small village, their house surrounded by graceful willow trees and flowers that always seemed to be in bloom. He had felt the joy in every day, the small moments of their lives swiftly passing by. Kurt didn’t notice his happiness; it was as natural as breathing. But one day, everything changed. Burt sat by his bed, helplessly trying to explain something impossible to understand. Kurt realized that he would never see his mother again, and it was as if all the joy had gone out of the world.

It soon became clear that Burt couldn’t stay in the house in the village. The memories of his beloved wife haunted him there. Every twist in the road, every sad look from a neighbor – it all reminded him of her. Kurt felt her presence everywhere too, but he didn’t mind. Burt didn’t realize that Kurt found hope in the memory of his mother in the grassy field by the pond where they used to have tea parties, or that it warmed his heart as he imagined her voice when he walked down the path to the green. And soon they had left, bound for the bustle of a cosmopolitan town. There Burt found work to drown himself in, and Kurt was alone, without even an echo of his mother’s love.

Years went by. Given what had happened to his mother, and the harsh rush of the big town, Burt didn’t like Kurt to go out very much. Kurt was used to the steady routine of his quiet life. He spent much of his day sewing, making small creations that Burt could sell at his shop, and reading books Burt brought home for him. Kurt had resigned himself to a mostly solitary existence, spending his days alone in the small apartment he and Burt shared. He didn’t think much about how things could be different. It was too hard.

One bright spring morning, Kurt was taking a break from work, gazing out the open window onto the busy street below. He noticed a new street vendor selling flowers just under his window. The cart was unlike any that Kurt had ever seen before, overflowing with bright colors and blooms of every shape and size. It was such a welcome contrast to the gray tones of the street that Kurt found himself staring at it, wishing he could move closer and breathe in the scent of the lovely blossoms. He closed his eyes, and imagined himself in his mother’s garden back in the village, sitting happily at her side while she weeded and pruned.

Every day for a week the flower cart appeared early in the morning, staying only until midafternoon. Then one day it wasn’t there. Kurt didn’t want to admit to himself how disappointed he was – it was ridiculous to look forward to seeing a flower cart three stories below him. He busied himself with his needlework, working out a new pattern for the delicate lace gloves that seemed to be selling well these days. Kurt could usually lose himself in his projects, finding satisfaction in the push and pull of a needle, the way he could shape fabric to his will. But today his mind kept wandering. Maybe the cart would come back, Kurt thought.

Three weeks went by, with no sign of the flower vendor. But then one sunny morning when Kurt had already given up hope for the day – it was after lunchtime, and Kurt was sweeping up the apartment, surprised at the amount of dust and pollen that had blown in on the morning’s breeze – he saw it. The cart was right below his window again, as if it had never left, filled with gorgeous flowers. He gave himself an extra-long midday break, and sat and stared. Suddenly, to his surprise, a boy darted out from behind the cart, gesturing wildly to a customer who was walking away without her purchase. The customer turned around, and waited for a moment while the boy wrapped more brightly colored ribbons around a bouquet and handed it to her, then left again with a smile on her face and a wave goodbye for the boy.

Kurt watched this exchange with fascination. He had never seen this boy before – in the past, the cart was staffed by a gray haired older woman, who usually stood quietly behind the cart and hadn’t left much of an impression on Kurt. He leaned out of his window as far as he could, and even climbed out onto the little balcony, but all he could see was a head of curly dark hair moving around the front of the cart, straightening his wares. Look up, he thought, look up at me. But the boy had no reason to look up, and soon was back behind the cart, out of sight.

The flower cart returned the next day, a little earlier, but still closer to midday than to dawn. Kurt was watching when it arrived, and observed the boy pushing the cart to what must be its assigned spot under Kurt’s window, his head down as he steadily maneuvered the cart into place. It looked heavy. Kurt wondered what happened to the older woman, and why this boy now had the job. Was the woman his mother? Had something happened to her, too?

That night, Kurt was going to ask Burt for some spending money, so that he could go down to the cart and buy some flowers. He almost never bought anything for himself – just scraps of fabric and sketch pads from time to time. But Burt commented on how Kurt hadn’t yet finished the gloves he started earlier that week, and Kurt felt a touch of remorse, realizing that he had spent most of the day watching the cart for a glimpse of the curly haired boy, when he should have been working. Burt wasn’t upset, really, just curious, but Kurt thought better of asking for money. He would work harder for a few more days, and then, having presented Burt with some more items to sell, ask then.

The next day Kurt perched himself by the open window, needlework in hand. He focused on the intricacy of the pattern he had created, and it was hours later before he looked up and realized the flower cart had arrived. He hoped the boy was there, but couldn’t tell, so he slipped back into his work, humming to himself as he let the clicking of his needles lull him into a peaceful state. Later that afternoon, he looked up to see the boy pushing the cart away down the street, just his back and curly head visible. He thought he heard singing, and realized with a flash of excitement that the boy was singing the song he had been humming earlier. Did he hear me? Kurt wondered, with a rush of embarrassment and excitement. Did he hear my song?

This went on for several more days. Although Kurt didn’t catch a glimpse of the boy again, he assumed he was there, and sat contentedly by the window, thinking about the boy with the curly hair and the lovely voice. He tried to make himself hum again, hoping to get the boy to sing, but every time he thought about it, he got too nervous and his throat wouldn’t work. Then one day a customer asked for some help with her bags and the person who emerged from behind the cart was the gray haired woman. Kurt’s heart sank. For how many days had he been imagining the boy was down there, thinking about him thoughtfully selecting flowers for his customers, wrapping them in crisp paper and colorful ribbons, when in fact he wasn’t there at all? Kurt would never get to see him now. He had waited too long, and lost his chance.

That night a thunderstorm shook the town, and Kurt curled up tight in his blankets. Despite the fact that his father lay in his own bed in the room next door, he felt more alone than ever. Did the appearance of the older woman mean that the boy hadn’t lost his mother, like Kurt had? Was she even his mother? Had Kurt made up a whole story about this boy in his head, wishing for someone like him to be his friend, even if it was just in his imagination?

The next day dawned bright and sunny. Kurt had propped the windows open, and thought he heard the flower cart take up residence below his window. He put off going to look, though, not wanting to confirm the absence of the curly haired boy. Finally, after finishing two pairs of gloves, he let himself peer out the window. The flower cart was there, but he couldn’t tell who was working at it. Kurt made himself comfortable near the window, and started to sing. He chose a tune that his mother had sang to him when he was little, a song that made him think of summer nights wandering the lanes of the small village. Today, while the blossoms still cling to the vine, I’ll taste your strawberries, I’ll drink your sweet wine. A million tomorrows shall all pass away. Ere I forget all the joy that is mine, today.

Kurt paused, and then began the second verse. His heart leapt when another voice joined in, sweetly harmonizing, weaving over and under the melody. I can’t be contented with yesterday’s glory, I can’t live on promises winter to spring. Today is my moment and now is my story, I’ll laugh and I’ll cry and I’ll sing. By the time they reached the end of the song, Kurt was on the balcony outside his window, trying to get a glimpse of the boy. He was about to yell down to try to get his attention, when to his surprise, there was a knock at his door. His heart still beating fast, Kurt scrambled back into the apartment and ran a hand through his hair. Could it be the boy? Had he come up to see him? Kurt could barely contain his disappointment when he opened the door to find his father’s assistant, sent home to retrieve a ledger that Burt had forgotten to take with him that morning. By the time Kurt finished talking with the man, he had lost his courage. What would he even say to the boy? He had nothing to talk about, nothing to offer. Kurt retreated to his room, and lost himself in a book of fairy tales. He imagined himself as Rapunzel, but instead of letting his hair down from his third story tower, he let his voice flow out the window, the notes floating out on the summer breeze. It was a beautiful image, he thought. If only it could be more.

The next day was damp and cloudy. Kurt puttered around the apartment all morning, his thoughts as unsettled as the weather. He didn’t even notice it was raining until he realized the rain was being blown in through his open window. Kurt rushed to close the shutters, and then spent the rest of the afternoon huddled in his room, listening to the wind growing ever stronger, shrieking and howling. Kurt buried himself under his quilt, and began to hum, trying to drown out the sound of the angry wind. Suddenly there was a crash, and Kurt darted out of bed, peeking around the doorframe to find that the shutters had come open and were slamming against the wall. He was tempted to just leave them be, but the wind was driving the rain into the room again, and so he pulled his sweater around him and edged over to the window. As he reached for a flapping shutter, he was confused to see flowers flying through the air, blossoms, leaves and stems torn apart, tossing and turning in the wind. Holding on tightly to the window’s edge, he crawled out on to the balcony. The flower cart was turned on its side, its canopy ripped and thrashing in the wind. As he watched, something flew down the street and crashed into the cart – a garbage can, maybe, or a mailbox? – and a piece broke off the cart and followed the trail of debris down the street, swirling in the wind. Kurt couldn’t remember the last time a hurricane had come through the town. Kurt was seized with a paralyzing fear. Where was his father? Was he safe at the shop? Another piece of the flower cart broke off and the contents of a cabinet burst out, ribbons of every color flying away on the wind, and Kurt’s mind flashed back to the day he first saw the curly haired boy as he wrapped glittering ribbons around a brightly colored bouquet. Where was he now? Had he found somewhere safe to hide, or was he out in the storm, being battered by the wind and everything it was tossing about?

Before he knew it Kurt grabbed his coat and key, ran out his door and down the stairs to the lobby. He hauled repeatedly at the front door, the wind sucking it closed each time he tried to push it open, and then he threw himself outside, the rain soaking him as he looked around frantically for the boy. Kurt flattened himself up against the wall of the building, hoping it would protect him if more of the cart broke off, and slid closer. It was difficult to keep his balance against the punishing force of the gale. He opened his mouth to call out - anyone here? – but he couldn’t even hear his own words over the roar of the wind. There were no people on the street, and Kurt almost gave up and went back inside, figuring that the boy must have gotten to safety before the storm began. But then he saw a figure huddled against the side of the cart, almost underneath it, curled up tight.

Kurt crept forward until he was next to the boy. His clothes were soaked through and his curls were plastered to his head, which was buried on his knees, his arms wrapped tightly around him. “Hello?” Kurt asked, but he realized as soon as he spoke that the boy wouldn’t be able to hear him. Kurt reached out carefully and put a hand on the boy’s shoulder, causing him to twitch in alarm, and look up at him with wide, scared eyes.

“It’s okay,” Kurt said, scooting as close to the boy as he could and looking into his eyes, trying to ignore the way his stomach was flip flopping. “Let me help you. Come inside with me,” he tilted his head back towards his building. “I live right over there.” They both jumped as a burst of wind shook the flower cart and shoved it a little further into the street. Kurt grabbed the boy’s hand and tugged. “Come on, it’s not safe here.”

The boy nodded, and tried to stand up, his legs wobbly from fear and cold. Kurt put his arm around the boy’s waist and pulled him along, back to the relative safety of the building’s wall, and then through the door. Kurt helped the shaking boy up the stairs and finally in to his apartment, closing the door behind them with a grunt, and then doing the same to the still flopping shutters. The floor of the living room was soaked, but once the shutters were fastened it was blessedly quiet inside the apartment. Kurt turned back towards the boy, still standing frozen by the door where Kurt had left him. Kurt pulled a towel off the rack in the bathroom and approached the boy, who still looked stunned. “Hi,” he said softly. “I’m Kurt.” He wrapped the towel around the boy’s shoulders, easy enough to do as the boy stood hunched and shivering, and gently put a hand on his arm. “Why don’t you come on in and dry off?”

Kurt led the boy back in to his room, and sat him down on his bed. The boy promptly pulled his knees up to his chest and wrapped his arms around his legs. His clothes were soaked and clinging tightly to his body, clearly adding to his embarrassment. Kurt rummaged in his drawer, pulling out his favorite red and white striped shirt and a pair of loose blue pants for the boy and setting them down next to him. The boy glanced down at the clothes, surprised. “Thank you,” he said, looking shyly at Kurt through his long lashes.

“You must be freezing,” Kurt said, noting how the boy’s fingers were almost blue with cold. He sat down next to the boy on the bed, then took the towel and rubbed it over the boy’s head and down over his arms. Kurt tugged at his water logged shirt and helped the boy pull it off, scrubbed him quickly with the towel again, and gave him the red and white shirt to put on. Kurt ducked into the bathroom to shed his own wet clothes, and when he returned a moment later, robe wrapped tightly around him, the boy was curled up in his bed, his damp curls dark against the white pillow case. Kurt joined him, shuffling them around until they were both under the blankets, the boy’s feet icy cold against his own.

The boy’s eyes blinked open sleepily, looking at Kurt with a hesitant expression Kurt couldn’t quite place. “Thank you,” he said again, a small smile hinting at his lips, then his eyes closed again, and he was asleep. Kurt just stared at him, thinking that he must be exhausted from hours spent huddling next to the cart, but amazed nonetheless that the boy was comfortable enough to simply fall asleep in his bed, when he didn’t know Kurt at all. For that matter, Kurt wasn’t really sure how he himself had wound up here, under the quilt his mother had made for him long ago, the warmth of a strange, beautiful boy defrosting his chilly limbs.

Beautiful, he thought. There was no doubt about it, the boy was beautiful. Kurt had to restrain himself from reaching out to touch the boy’s face, trace the lines of his cheek, push a slowly drying curl away from his eyes. He was sure he had never felt this way about anyone before, and yet it felt perfectly natural, perfectly right. Kurt sighed and jammed his hands up under his pillow and closed his eyes. He didn’t want to think about his father, trapped somewhere outside in the storm, and he didn’t want to think about what was going to happen when the boy woke up and realized how ridiculous this all was. Instead he focused on the serenity of this moment, the boy who slept sweetly in his bed, and imagined what his own fairy tale might look like. Because there was no denying it – days like today just didn’t happen to Kurt Hummel.

The next morning Kurt woke up early, realizing from the quiet that the wind had died down. After he got over the shock of seeing the curly haired boy snuggled into the pillow next to him, he slid out of bed and went to the kitchen, putting a pot of water on to boil. A few minutes later he looked up as the boy shuffled in behind him, a shy smile on his face. Kurt thought he looked adorable in Kurt’s clothes, which turned out to be a little too big on him, but seemed to suit him nevertheless. He wished he had put on something else besides his old robe, pulling it closer around him as he selected two tea bags from a box on the counter.

“Hi,” the boy said quietly, rubbing the back of his neck with his hand. “I think I owe you an explanation.”

“What? No, of course not,” Kurt said. He waved at the stove. “I was just making some tea. Please, sit down.”

The boy took a seat at the small table and fidgeted, worrying the hem of his shirt between his fingers. Kurt brought two mugs of tea over to the table, set out some biscuits on a plate, and then sat down in the other chair. He gave the boy a curious look, holding his gaze until the other boy blushed.

“What?” he asked, a cautious smile stretching over his face.

“Well, if this was a real fairy tale, there’d be some clever explanation for why I still don’t know your name. Like I’d have to guess it, or something. Or it was being held for ransom by an evil witch.”

The boy ducked his head into his hands and groaned. “Oh, I’m so sorry,” he said. “Nope, no evil witch, no riddle, no excuse at all.” He sat up straight, squaring his shoulders and holding his hand out. “I’m Blaine Anderson. And I apparently stole your clothes and fell asleep in your bed without even an invitation, for which I sincerely apologize.”

“No apology necessary. All clothes and, um, sleeping space were freely given.” Kurt took the boy – Blaine’s – hand, and shook it, enjoying the touch of his warm skin. “Kurt Hummel, at your service.”

Blaine tilted his head, and then grinned, his whole face lighting up with it. “You’re the singer!” he said excitedly. “I knew you sounded familiar!”

Now it was Kurt’s turn to blush. “You were probably expecting a girl, weren’t you,” he said.

“What? No, I knew it – you – were a boy. I saw you one day when you were out on the balcony, but then you went back inside before I could say anything. I’ve been wanting to meet you forever!”

“You have?”

“Of course,” Blaine said. “And how amazing is it that the boy with the magical voice saved me from the storm? This is absolutely fairy tale material. And you are my handsome prince.”

Kurt squeezed his eyes shut, his heart racing. “I can’t believe you just said that,” he said, opening his eyes a crack to see Blaine still smiling giddily at him.

“Why not? I always dreamed my prince would come,” Blaine said happily, standing up and offering his hand to Kurt. “May I have this dance?”

Kurt laughed, but took his hand and stood up anyway. “There’s no music. Plus, I thought I was the prince?”

“We can both be the prince,” Blaine replied, taking Kurt’s hands and twirling him around. “And we don’t need music. We can make our own.”

“Oh my god, you are the sappiest person I have ever met,” Kurt said, but bit his lip when he saw a brief expression of hurt flicker over Blaine’s face. “No, no, in a good way,” he quickly reassured him.

“Yeah?” They had stopped dancing, still holding hands, Kurt’s breath coming fast as Blaine searched his face.

“Definitely.”

Blaine took a deep breath, and looked over towards the window. “I guess I need to get back to reality, don’t I. There’s probably not much left of my flower cart.”

Kurt led Blaine over to the window, ignoring for now his broom propped up against the wall. There would be plenty of time to clean up the apartment later. Kurt opened the shutters and they climbed out on to the balcony, seating themselves on the wide railing. The sight was disturbing. The hurricane had battered the town. While the buildings were still standing, the roads were filled with debris, broken pieces of who knows what strewn everywhere. There was no sign of the flower cart, not even the structure Blaine had been hiding next to when Kurt found him.

“I wanted to bring you flowers,” Blaine said softly.

“What?”

“I thought about it for days. I was trying to think of a good song to sing with you, one that would let you know I was thinking about you, and then bring you flowers at the end of the song.” He sighed. “Not very original, I know. But I spend a lot of time with flowers, and, well, they make me happy, so I thought they might make you happy as well.”

Kurt placed his hand on Blaine’s. “No one has ever given me flowers,” he said quietly. “That would have been wonderful.” He shifted closer to Blaine. “I loved your flower cart from the very first time it showed up,” he said. “It reminded me of my mother. She had the most beautiful garden.”

Blaine looked at Kurt curiously, and then back into the apartment, as if he expected Kurt’s mother to suddenly appear.

“She died when I was little,” Kurt explained. “Now it’s just me and my dad. Who really should be home by now…” Kurt clenched his teeth, trying to fend off the urge to cry that crept up on him at the thought of his father.

“Hey, it’s okay,” Blaine said, putting his arm around Kurt. “I’m sure he took cover when the storm came. He owns that woodworking shop by the park, doesn’t he?”

“Yes, he does,” Kurt said, looking at Blaine with amazement. “How do you know that?”

“Sometimes when I managed to get the cart here early enough, I saw him leaving your house. And I’ve taken the cart in for repairs at his shop a few times. He was always nice to me. He told me once that he had a son about my age.” Blaine smiled at Kurt. “I’m guessing that would be you?” Kurt nodded. “He talked about you a lot, one day. About how proud he was of you, and all the ways you helped out, making things for him to sell.”

“Yeah?” Kurt asked.

“Yeah. You’re really lucky to have a dad like him,” Blaine said wistfully.

“What are you parents like?” Kurt asked carefully, sensing the answer might not be good.

“They’re okay, I guess. We don’t really have much in common. And they travel a lot, so I live with my grandmother.”

“Is that the older woman I’ve seen at the flower cart?”

Blaine nodded. “But it’s really getting to be too hard for her. That’s why she’s been having me do it instead.” Blaine bit his lip. “I don’t know what we’re going to do without the cart. I don’t think we can afford a new one.”

Kurt didn’t know what to say to that, so he just gave Blaine’s hand a squeeze, and the boy leaned against him with a sigh. They sat together for a few more minutes, lost in thought, as they looked out over the damaged town. People were starting to come out on to the street, some making an effort to clean up the spaces in front of their property, others looking dazed and sad.

Blaine took a deep breath in and sat up. “What do you say we go over to your dad’s shop? I’m sure he could use some help today. My cart can’t be the only one that got caught in the storm – lots of people will need repairs.”

“You, um, you know how to do that kind of thing?” Kurt asked.

Blaine shrugged. “More or less. I actually helped build my grandmother’s cart, although my dad and my older brother did most of the work. I like woodworking, but I don’t have any of my own tools or anything, that’s why I go to your dad’s shop when something breaks.” Blaine paused and gave Kurt an inquisitive look. “Do you like working at the shop?”

Kurt let go of Blaine’s hand and twined his own together. This boy was so different than Kurt, so comfortable with the outside world. What was he going to think when he found out how limited Kurt’s life was? “I haven’t ever worked there. I’ve, um, never actually been there.” Kurt could see the confusion and surprise pass over Blaine’s face, and braced himself for what would come next. But when Blaine spoke, Kurt was the one who was surprised.

“Well, I know how to get there from here, and I’m happy to go with you if you want to. Or I can go over there myself and check in on your dad, and let you know if he’s okay.”

“You would do that?” Kurt couldn’t stand not knowing if Burt was all right, but it didn’t seem like it was Blaine’s responsibility to look out for him.

Blaine smiled. “You pretty much saved my life yesterday, remember? I think I can walk over to your dad’s shop and back.”

“I didn’t save your life,” Kurt muttered. He felt Blaine take his hand, and slide closer to Kurt until their thighs were touching.

“You left your house to go out into a dangerous storm to look for me, when you hadn’t even met me. I was so cold out there, Kurt, I couldn’t even think anymore. And I was so scared. You really did save me.”

Maybe I did, Kurt thought, leaning up against Blaine’s shoulder. And maybe I can do this, too. “Okay.”

“Okay?”

“Okay, let’s go to my dad’s shop.”

After a few minutes for Kurt to get dressed they grabbed some apples and bread to eat on the way over, and went out on to the street. The bright sky was a dramatic contrast to the previous day’s storm, and it seemed to be giving the townspeople a bit of hope as they worked to clear the debris. Kurt stayed close by Blaine’s side, marveling at how many people knew Blaine and called out their hellos as they passed by. While Blaine always responded cheerfully, he didn’t stop to chat, keeping them moving purposefully down the road.

When they reached the corner Kurt looked back, panicked for a moment at the thought that once they turned, he would no longer be able to see his building. Blaine seemed to sense Kurt’s hesitation, and paused, placing a gentle hand on his arm. “You okay?” Blaine asked. Kurt nodded, looking at his feet. It was silly to be afraid of leaving his house, even if he had never gone much of anywhere in the town before. Burt didn’t like him to leave the apartment alone, but he wasn’t alone now. And Burt could be in trouble. “If you want to go back, we can,” Blaine said softly. “Anytime.”

Kurt swallowed hard, and shook his head. “We can keep going.”

Blaine tucked his arm around Kurt’s and pointed down the street. “We’re going to walk for about ten minutes down this road – this one’s hard to miss, it’s a lot busier than your street. Then when we get to Maple, we turn right, and walk for a little while more, probably less than five minutes. We can stop whenever you want, if you want to just get your bearings, or, I don’t know, look around.”

Blaine was trying so hard to make Kurt feel comfortable, he had to smile. “Thank you.” He met Blaine’s eyes briefly and then sighed. “You probably think I’m crazy.”

Blaine shook his head, and pulled Kurt over to sit on a stoop, where they could still look back at his apartment. “No, I don’t. I’m sure you have a good reason for being scared, actually. I had a pretty bad experience once, when I was walking around town by myself. These guys jumped me and beat me up; they thought I had money on me, or something. They must have been pretty disappointed when they opened up my wallet. For a while after that, I didn’t want to come here at all. But then my grandmother needed help with the flower cart, and I couldn’t say no.”

“How did you get over being scared?” Kurt asked.

“I didn’t, really. I just did what I had to do, and after a while, when I didn’t get beat up again, it got a little easier.”

“That’s what courage is, isn’t it? Acting even though you’re scared?” Kurt asked.

Blaine shook his head. “I don’t know, maybe ” Blaine leaned against Kurt for a moment, resting his head on his shoulder. “It’s still really hard.”

Kurt had never told anyone what had happened to his mother, but after Blaine confided what had happened to him, he wanted to tell him. He wanted Blaine to know why Burt didn’t like him to wander about by himself, why he was afraid to do it even when Burt gave him permission. “Can I tell you something?” he asked, buying some time to gather his thoughts.

“Of course,” Blaine replied, settling himself next to Kurt with an attentive look.

“We didn’t always live here,” Kurt began, his voice low. “We lived in a small village, and my mother was a midwife. One night after helping with a difficult birth she left the village to walk back to our house. It was snowing, and when she didn’t come home, my father just thought she had stayed over with the family she was helping. Two days later, her body was found in the woods.” Kurt felt the tears streaming down his cheeks, and Blaine pulled him in to a tight hug. “We don’t know if she got lost and fell, or if something else happened…” Kurt clung to Blaine and cried, as he hadn’t done since he was a little boy. Blaine rubbed his back, murmuring soothing words, and held him tight until he could breathe again.

Finally Kurt took a deep breath and stood up, holding his hand out to pull Blaine up too. “Thank you for listening,” he said quietly.

“Anytime,” Blaine replied, his eyes wide and soft.

Kurt found himself relaxing as they walked down the busy street, enjoying the new sights. They went past a trimmings store that had bolts of delicate lace in the windows, and a produce stand that seemed to be overflowing with fresh looking vegetables. When they approached a bakery that smelled better than pretty much anything ever, Blaine paused and gave Kurt a little smile. “How do you feel about a snack?” Blaine quickly bought them an apple tart to share, and a bag of crisp ginger cookies that they munched on as they continued their walk.

Soon they turned the corner and before Kurt knew it, Blaine was pointing down the street. “See that green awning? That’s your dad’s shop. The awning doesn’t even look damaged – he must have been able to take it in before the storm hit.”

Kurt felt a surge of hope, and grabbed Blaine’s hand to pull him down the road a little faster. He had been trying as hard as he could not to think about whether his dad would be at the shop or not, and what they would find when they got there, and he couldn’t stand not knowing any more. As they approached, a man in a plaid shirt and dark brown cap stepped out of the shop with a broom, and Kurt couldn’t help but break into a run.

“Dad!” he yelled, grabbing his father and wrapping his arms around him.

“Kurt,” his father choked out. “Kurt, hey, it’s okay, buddy.”

Kurt held him tightly, pressing his face against his father’s worn shirt. “I was so worried,” Kurt said, biting his lip. “I had to find out if you were okay.”

“I’m fine, I’m fine.” Burt stepped back and gave Kurt a focused look. “I was worried about you too, but I figured you’d be safe at home. How on earth did you get here?”

Kurt stepped back and looked at Blaine, who had joined them in front of the shop. “Blaine showed me how to get here.”

“Good morning, Mr. Hummel,” Blaine said politely.

Burt looked at the two of them, and then laughed. “I’m guessing there’s an interesting story here,” he said lightly. “Why don’t you boys come inside?”

Blaine followed Kurt as Burt gave them a tour of the shop, lingering over some of the tools arranged neatly on a workbench. “You know how to use those, don’t you?” Burt asked, noticing Blaine’s attention.

“A little,” Blaine said.

“Well, there are quite a few customers needing help today, and my assistant didn’t make it in. Want to help out?”

Burt put them both to work, Blaine following Burt’s directions with some simple sanding and polishing, and Kurt manning the cash register. From time to time Kurt caught his father looking over at him with a thoughtful expression on his face, and he wondered what Burt was thinking about. The day flew by, and by mid-afternoon, Kurt realized he had probably seen and talked to more people in the past few hours than in the last few months. And he liked it.

“Dad?” Kurt asked when his father came over to check on him. “Could I do this again sometime? Help you out here?”

Burt nodded. “I’d like that, if you would.”

“I would.” Kurt’s eyes fell on Blaine, chatting happily with a customer as he showed off the piece he was working on.

“So you gonna tell me how you two met?”

Kurt searched his dad’s face, but didn’t see any sign of disapproval. “I’d seen Blaine outside at his flower cart a bunch of times, although I never got up the courage to go down and talk to him. Then in the storm yesterday, I saw his cart get torn apart. I was afraid for him… so I went out and looked for him.” Kurt swallowed hard. “I know it was crazy, dad, but I couldn’t leave him out there. So I brought him upstairs, and he, uh, stayed over.”

Kurt cautiously met his dad’s eyes, waiting for him to chastise him for taking such a risk, but it didn’t happen. “You’re a good kid, Kurt.”

“You’re not mad?” Because I left the apartment, in a storm, and brought home a total stranger – seems like something a father could be pretty mad about, he thought.

Burt shook his head. “I’m guessing Blaine looked more like a soaked cocker spaniel than a serial killer,” Burt chuckled, “and no, I’m not mad.” His face turned serious. “That was a very brave thing to do, son. I’m proud of you.”

Kurt and his father wandered over to where Blaine was putting away the sanders, setting each of them carefully in their slots. “Nice work, Blaine,” Burt said, patting the boy on the shoulder. “You were a great help today.”

Blaine smiled at the praise. “Thank you, sir. I enjoy the work.”

“I’m guessing you’re perfectly capable of doing your own repairs on the cart, you know. I’d be happy to give you some pointers. You could even borrow some tools if you need to,” Burt offered.

Blaine’s face fell. “I appreciate your offer, Mr. Hummel. But there’s nothing left of my cart to fix.” Blaine sighed. “I honestly don’t know what I’m going to tell my grandmother.”

“That how your family makes a living?” Burt asked.

Blaine nodded. “Yeah. We do some business right from a farmstand at our house, but it’s too out of the way to get many customers. Most of what we make comes from selling flowers here in town.”

Kurt felt so bad for Blaine, he wished he could do something to help. He noticed Burt rubbing his chin, the way he did when he was thinking hard about something.

“What if you brought your flowers to the shop, and sold them from here?” Burt suggested. “We could build a counter by the window, or a table for out front.”

Blaine’s face lit up. “Really? You would let me do that? But I’d be taking up space…”

“I think my customers would enjoy it – it might even bring in more business for me,” Burt said, smiling. “And Kurt’s going to be working here sometimes, too. You can help him with my orders when you have down time.”

“And I can help with the flowers, too,” Kurt exclaimed, ignoring how high his voice rose in his excitement. “Blaine, this is going to be great!”

Blaine stood up, practically bouncing on his toes. “I can’t believe this. Mr. Hummel, thank you so much. I mean, I have to talk to my grandmother about it, but I know she’ll say yes. This is wonderful!”

----------

Several weeks later, Kurt was straightening up the apartment, getting ready to go out. Burt’s plan to have Blaine sell flowers from the shop was working well, and Kurt loved the afternoons he spent there with Blaine, learning his father’s trade while the fragrant aroma of the blossoms surrounded them both. Kurt paused as he went to close the windows, hearing a now familiar voice coming up from the street.

I gave my love a cherry, that had no stone.
I gave my love a chicken, that had no bone.
I gave my love a story, that had no end.
I gave my love a baby, with no crying.

How can there be a cherry, without a stone…

Kurt climbed out on to the balcony and looked down, and there was Blaine, a huge bouquet of red and yellow roses in his arms. Kurt could feel his smile stretching his face as Blaine continued singing, his voice lovely and strong.

A cherry when it’s blooming, it has no stone.
A chicken when it’s piping, it has no bone.

Kurt joined in, the lyrics warming his heart.

The story that I love you, it has no end.
A baby when it’s sleeping, there’s no crying.

Moments after Blaine finished the song, there was a knock at the door. Blaine was there, of course, beaming at Kurt. “These are for you,” Blaine said, holding the roses out to Kurt.

“Thank you,” Kurt said softly, burying his face in the bouquet and inhaling deeply before setting the flowers down on the table. He moved closer to Blaine, his heart fluttering nearly as much as Blaine’s long eyelashes, and pressed a soft kiss to his lips. Kurt felt Blaine’s breath stutter and then Blaine was kissing him back, his lips warm and firm against his own. Kurt thought his heart would explode. Never in a million years could he have predicted how his life would change when that flower cart showed up under his window. It was indeed a fairy tale – a story of love that Kurt hoped with all his soul would have no end.