Return to Glory – Chapter Seventeen – Back to the Start
“It's no use to go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.”
~Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Carol and Burt drove up the mountain in their SUV. Blaine and Kurt were seated with Mitzi on the bench seat behind them, Katura and Jordan in the way back in between the luggage.
“I had a really good time in Colorado, Daddy,” Jordan said, curled in his seat and looking up from the book he was reading. He had his Build-a-Bear in his arms and Katie was holding her Bunny. After not being able to use his internet on his tablet for so long, Jordy had discovered that he loved reading and could be found at almost any time of day with his nose in a book.
Katie liked to read, too, but she was more of an athletic type and had to be moving. She was the fastest runner in her class back in Philomath and kept up practicing by running in the meadow. She wanted to learn to box as soon as she found out her tatay had been a boxer, but Blaine was unwilling to train her. He knew Kurt's objection to the sport and hadn't put on a pair of gloves since he won his last fight about fifteen years ago.
They were just driving into the loop driveway around the house when they heard the dogs barking. Lucy and Scout came from across the meadow, running as fast as they could while still barking.
Lucy, heavy with puppies, was waddling more than she was running and Scout was slowing down to check on her every twenty steps or so.
Kitty came out of her little house across the road with a big smile on her face.
“I knew it was you, the dogs have been barking for ten minutes,” she said, opening the door for Carol.
“Thank you, dear,” Carol said, stepping down and looking around her. She missed spring on Mt Russell last year since she'd been in New York with Finn and Rachel.
The twins got out, running with the dogs in a big, wide circle before coming back to take suitcases into the house.
“Here, Carol, if you want to take Mitzi, I can help get the SUV unpacked,” Kurt offered.
“Oh, you don't have to twist my arm!” Carol kidded. She took the baby and walked inside, sitting down in a rocking chair in the large room off the kitchen to rock Mitzi to sleep.
Burt had picked up Kurt, Blaine, and the kids from the airport yesterday and Mitzi had been taken to her appointment with her pediatrician. The baby girl was doing just fine. After a sleepless night in which the twins were too excited to calm down enough to go to bed on time, Mitzi got a tummy ache and let everyone know it. Then the cat got out and was not in a mood to come back inside with all the noise...but they had finally all gone to bed.
Everyone went into the house, glad the long, bumpy ride up the mountain was over.
“Feeling better today, little darling?” Burt asked as he sat down across from his beloved wife, looking in the blanket at his youngest granddaughter.
“I think she is. She ate the whole bottle on the way up and now she's sleepy,” Carol reported, smiling at Burt. It was such a miracle that Mitzi had been able to bring a smile back to Burt's face after the tragedy of Daisy's death. Carol had been seriously worried about the affect that would have on Burt's health, but Mitzi made him smile and she could tell his heart was lighter now.
“I guess I should go up and put her to sleep in her own bed,” Carol said, but Burt stopped her.
“Let me hold her for a few minutes. I haven't gotten to in quite a while,” he said softly and held out his arms. Carol got up and Burt sat in the rocker, holding Mitzi. He rocked slowly and sang almost under his breath. It was a lullaby that he'd sung to Kurt when he was a baby, and he sang it to the babies in the Buddy Grandparent program when they were fussy.
“Over in Killarney, many years ago
My mother sang a song to me in tones so sweet and low
Just a simple little ditty, in her good old Irish way
And I'd give the world if she could sing that song to me this day
Hush now don't you cry....”
Carol walked to the kitchen, thinking she could start some lunch.
Blaine was standing by the kitchen table, leaning against it. His eyes were dreamy and he didn't notice his mother-in-law walking by.
“Blaine? Are you all right?” she asked.
Blaine shook his head, then focused in on her.
“Oh...Carol. Sorry, I was thinking of that song. It reminded me of when my dad would sing it when I was a little kid,” he answered, giving her a shy smile.
“Oh, your dad was Irish?”
“No, my mother was. He must have gotten it from her, I guess,” he shook his head as if to clear the cobwebs of memory. “Well, what shall we fix for lunch?” he asked, going into the pantry. Kurt was just putting away the groceries.
“Panini sandwiches? I was thinking of grilling the bell peppers with onions . . . “ Kurt started to say, setting several green, red, and yellow bell peppers on the cutting board along with a Vidalia onion.
“Sounds lovely,” Carol joined in, going to the bread box to get the rolls out to slice.
“I'll make a fresh fruit salad for dessert then,” Blaine offered.
They worked together, getting out the sliced roast beef for the sandwiches and a cauliflower and broccoli salad to add to the fare. It wasn't too long before they were all sitting once more at the large table, everyone talking and laughing.
“It hardly seems like a whole year has passed since the day I came up here and Jordan got lost picking blackberries,” Burt said, smiling at his grandson.
“I didn't get lost – I knew where I was,” Jordy argued, blushing at how gullible he was to listen to his sister. He glanced over at her and she gave him an 'I'm sorry' smile. He reached across the table to touch her hand and all was well between them.
“What was your favorite thing of the whole year then?” Kurt asked the table at large.
“Rachel's baby being born safe and both of them healthy,” Carol said. “Oh! And Mitzi, too. We were blessed with two new babies this year and for that I am thankful.”
“I agree, the two babies,” Burt said.
“I was happy we got to go so many places this year – first to New York and then to Colorado,” Katie said.
“I loved making our own food – jam, ice cream, bread – just everything,” Jordan added.
“I was happy that we got our farm animals. Kimmy the cow, and all of the other ones. I love animals and it's fun to have so many here,” Katie said.
“I'm most happy that we are a family together,” Blaine said, taking Kurt's hand and pulling him closer. He kept pulling until Kurt was in his lap, arms around his shoulders as Blaine kissed him.
Burt coughed, loudly.
Kurt couldn't help but smile, thinking of how ten years ago he might have jumped away from Blaine with a blushing face.
“Just a minute, Dad, I'm kissing my husband,” he said, his eyes dancing, and leaned back in to finish the kiss. Burt laughed.
Mitzi startled in his lap. Jerking her head up to stare at her grandfather.
“Oh, little one, I didn't mean to wake you . . . “ Burt apologized. He held her closer and lulled her back to sleep.
“I can take her up if you want me to, Dad,” Kurt offered but his father shook his head.
Lunch was called and Burt finally took the baby up to her bed, turned on the baby monitor and closed her door.
“Oh, this is wonderful!” Carol exclaimed, taking another bite of the sandwich.
“Can we learn to make pickles next?” Jordy asked, studying the dill pickle in his hand. “We could plant cucumbers in the garden maybe?”
“That sounds like a great idea, but I'll have to find a recipe. Pickles aren't something my dad made when I was a kid,” Blaine said.
“I can help with that. My grandmother won a blue ribbon at the county fair for her dill-and-green tomato pickles. I have all her canning recipes. We could even make watermelon rind pickles if you'd like,” Carol offered.
“Watermelon pickles? Ewww,” said Jordan and his sister together, rolling their eyes in the exact same way.
“And people wonder if they're really twins . . . “ Kurt laughed.
“But – you can't eat the rind off watermelon!” Katie said, incredulous.
“I beg to differ. If you prepare it in the right way, it's delicious,” Burt said. “My grannie used to batter it and fry it with salt. It's good, I promise.”
“What about the pickles?” Jordy asked his grandmother. Carol smiled at him.
“You cut the pink part out of the pieces – just like you always do when you eat the melon. Then peel the dark green outside husk off, cut the white pieces into small chunks and set them in salt water overnight. In the morning you rinse the rind pieces in just plain water. When they're soft, you cook them with sugar, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and vinegar. I always add some thin-sliced lemon and a few maraschino cherries.”
“That sounds delicious! I'm excited to make them now,” Jordan said, grinning.
“We'll have to wait until July or August, honey. We need watermelons and they won't be ripe until then,” Carol told him.
“Okay, Grandma. I'm looking forward to it.”
The next day, Burt and Carol went back down the mountain. They took Kitty with them because she needed to do some shopping in town. Kurt had planned to go down next week to pick her up.
“Can we go look at the cheese you and I put in the cave?” Jordan asked the next morning.
“Oh, I need to help your dad with combing Lucy and Scout. They have a bunch of mats in their fur and I'm afraid there are stickers in them. How about this afternoon, pal?” Blaine countered.
Jordan just gave him a resigned smile.
“You and Katura can start out just before noon if you want and Tatay and I can come along with a picnic lunch?” Kurt asked, trying to placate his shy son.
“Okay, Daddy,” Jordan agreed.
“No, it's this way!” Jordan said, pulling his sister's hand to try to get her to follow him. “I've gone with Tatay to wipe the cheeses lots of times. That way is around the other side of the mountain where the big river starts.”
“Okay, I'll come with you, but only because I need to help when you get us lost,” Katie said, even though she knew her twin was right. She wished they had brought Lucy or Scout along, but Lucy was about to have puppies and probably couldn't walk this far. Scout would probably come with Daddy and Tatay.
The children walked along the path and Jordan shivered when they passed the place where the mother fox had died and he had found Harold in the den. He wondered, as he often did, if things would have been better if he'd never found the little fox kit and it had been left to die naturally. He sighed and Katura came over to put her arms around him for a few moments. She recognized the place for what it was.
Taking Jordan's hand, she continued to walk to the cheese cave and they went inside, flashlights in hand.
“I can wipe the cheeses – Tatay taught me how,” Jordy said, getting the clean towels from the indent in the rock wall of the cave that served as a shelf and he got the bottle of vinegar.
“I don't see any mold . . . “ Katie said and Jordan rushed over to look. There on the shelves that were natural to the cave were twenty-eight round cheeses. They had golden rinds and not a speck of mold on any of them. Jordan smiled.
“These are going to be so wonderful when they're done ripening!” he said, grinning.
“How long will that take?” Katie asked, inspecting one of the cylinders.
“I don't know. It's different with each cheese. We can ask Tatay when he gets here.”
They walked outside the cave to wait for their parents. A strange new butterfly flew by and Katie decided to follow it for a little ways, Jordan just in back of her. The gold-and-blue butterfly landed on a flower and Katie turned to ask Jordan if he saw it, but he wasn't there.
“Jordan?” she asked, looking back on the path behind her. Maybe he had seen another butterfly?
“Sorry – I saw another one go that way and I was checking to see where it went,” Jordan said from a few yards away.
“Don't go too far, I don't want us to get lost. I'm not really familiar with this part of the mountain. And neither are you,” Katie said, staring into her brother's eyes so he would know how serious she was.
“I wouldn't, Katie, I promise,” he said with a blush. He just wasn't adventurous enough to go walking off into the thick woods by himself. He looked up and smiled at her so she would know he agreed with her.
They walked back to the cave and sat down on several boulders that sat in front of the entrance. The birds had stopped singing when the children came but as they sat quietly, the singing slowly came back. The birds' confidence grew and soon the forest was alive with song.
Katura and Jordan waited quietly as the afternoon wore on.
“They're taking forever. Maybe something's happened?” Katie asked, not really expecting an answer. She scratched at the mosquito bite that had popped up on her arm last night.
“Don't scratch, you'll make it itch more and it might get infected,” Jordy admonished his twin, then gave her one of his sweet smiles to keep his comment from seeming harsh.
“Yeah, okay,” she said, looking at the angry red bump and hoping that it would stop itching. “Thank you,” she mumbled and gave him one of her own smiles. Jordan really was her best friend even though he was her brother.
It was another half-hour before they heard Scout barking up the trail.
Kurt, with Mitzi in her back-carrier, and Blaine came into view of the cave but the twins were nowhere to be found.
“Katuuurrra! Jooorrrdan!” Blaine called, looking around to see if they had been there.
“Here's their backpacks,” Kurt called, walking inside the cave. “They will be around here – come help me take Mitzi off my back, honey.”
Blaine went into the entrance of the cave and took Mitzi's weight while Kurt undid the buckles. He set the backpack stand on the ground and took his tiny daughter out of her carrier, holding her close.
“Where's your brother and sister?” Blaine asked, kissing her head. Mitzi had begun to grow more hair and the thin blonde strands has started to curl. She looked up with her big blue eyes and stared at her parent, a small smile coming across her face. She reached out and touched Blaine's cheek.
“Daddy! Tatay!” the twins called out as they came in front of the cave, smiling when they saw their parents and baby sister.
The rest of the afternoon was fun. They ate their picnic lunch, took turns holding Mitzi, and had a taste of the cheese aging in the cave. On the way home the twins saw another of the colorful butterflies and pointed it out to Kurt and Blaine. Scout barked and chased a chipmunk. Blaine started a sing-a-long and they got back home in time to do the chores before supper.
“Daddy, where's Lucy?” asked Jordy, brushing hay from his hair as he left the barn.
“I haven't seen her since this morning. She was inside the house when we left to have the picnic,” Kurt answered.
“Lucy!” Blaine called but there was no answering bark.
Everyone walked back up to the house to fix supper. They all piled into the house, the twins calling their dog. No answer.
Kurt cuddled a very sleepy Mitzi as he walked into the house. He'd fed her while sitting on the porch as Blaine helped the other kids with farm chores.
“I'll get Mitzi down for bed if you want to start supper?” Kurt asked.
“Of course,” Blaine smiled and leaned forward to kiss first his baby daughter's head and then Kurt's lips. Kurt kissed back and reluctantly turned to go upstairs.
As he laid Mitzi down in her bed, Kurt heard a snuffling noise, then a sigh. He thought it might be coming from the yard, but the window was locked tight. He stood still to listen and heard a shuffling from the closet. Smiling to himself, confident he knew the source of the noises, he opened the door a bit further.
There, in a nest made of an old blanket that the dog had pulled from a shelf, was Lucy. She was surrounded by five fat little balls of pudgy puppies.
“Oh, look what you have,” Kurt said in a quiet and calm voice. “What a fine family you're got, sweetheart.”
Lucy looked up and wagged her tail, then went back to licking one of the pups. Kurt searched the blanket, making sure there were no more puppies, and left the new mommy to take care of her babies. The kids were going to be so thrilled – and Blaine was going to be over the moon with excitement. He was really the biggest kid of them all.
“I found Lucy,” Kurt said as he stepped off the bottom stair and headed towards the kitchen. He could smell delicious odors coming from a pot on the stove. Blaine was wearing his chef apron and stirring the pot, a look of concentration on his face.
“Oh, where is she?” Katie asked, looking for the dog to be at her Daddy's heels.
“She's busy. Let's eat supper and then go see . . .”
Blaine had set down the spoon he was using to stir the sauce, turned off the burner, and was halfway to the stairs before Kurt had finished.
“Which room?” he asked, his eyes lit up with anticipation.
“Now just clam down. She's fine and it's all over with. Honestly, Blaine, how do you expect the kids to be calm when you're jumping around like a kangaroo...” Kurt said, but it fell on empty space. Blaine was gone.
“You better not wake Mitzi!” Kurt called up the stairs, but turned around in laughter to tell the astonished children that they now had a litter of flat-coated retrievers in their sister's closet.
Supper was forgotten about as Lucy was moved to the little-used den where she could lie in her large bed and nurse her puppies in peace. Her bed was next to the fireplace so she would be warm. Scout came to visit and got a fierce growl in his face for his trouble and Blaine shut him out of the room.
Katie and Jordy each got to carry a new puppy down the stairs to the bed while Kurt and Blaine carried the rest and coaxed Lucy to come, too. It was almost an hour before everything was settled. Lucy had been out, she had water and food, and was left to rest after her ordeal of the day. She was asleep before the door was closed.
“Two boy puppies and three girls. Why am I always outnumbered?” Jordan sighed. They were sitting at the table eating spaghetti with garlic bread. “Two sisters and one of me.”
“Well, your tatay and I make it three to two,” Kurt laughed.
Jordan got a big smile. Maybe he wasn't so outnumbered after all.
They played Monopoly after supper before the twins went to bed. They got one last peek at the puppies before they went up for showers and bed.
“Goodnight, Katie. Goodnight, Jordy,” Blaine said, giving each a kiss on the cheek. Kurt followed suit and they closed the doors to the children's rooms.
“Blaine. Where are you going?” Kurt asked, authority in his voice.
“Just to make sure all the doors are locked . . . “ he answered with a guilty tone.
“We did that together while the kids were taking their showers. You are sneaking down to play with the puppies,” Kurt admonished his husband. “They are less than a day old. Leave them alone.”
“I wasn't gonna touch them . . .”
Kurt walked over and put his arms around Blaine's shoulders and pulled him close.
“Don't ever change, baby. I love you so much,” Kurt cooed, kissing Blaine.
“I love you, too.”
They walked to their bedroom, hand in hand, and laid together in the hammock on the balcony.
“It's been a full year since we moved here to Mt Russell. Has it been a good one?” Blaine asked.
“It's been a wonderful one, babe. I wouldn't trade it for the world.”
“So many things have happened – good, sad, exciting, heartbreaking. Wow, have we ever had such a full year?” Blaine asked. “Losing Daisy. I thought we might lose Burt, too, for a while there,” he said, an anxious look on his face as he thought he shouldn't have started with that.
“It took Mitzi to bring him back to us,” Kurt said, glad his face was hidden in the shadows of the night.
“We got Mitzi, yes. What a miracle. We have been so lucky in our children,” Blaine said, snuggling closer to Kurt.
“We really are blessed,” Kurt said, contentedly. “And I am blessed to have you, my love.”
“We were meant to be together, I know it. How else do you explain the way we met, the connection we felt – the love we share?”
Kurt leaned forward to kiss his husband once again.
“Adele was born and Rachel was healthy throughout her pregnancy, thank the stars,” Kurt said, smiling at the thought of his sister-in-law. He missed being close to her, but she would probably never leave New York permanently.
“The farm. How could we have envisioned it even a few years ago?” Kurt asked, marveling at what a change they'd made this year.
“All the animals – dogs, goats, chickens, sheep, even a cow. It's been a long road. We've made mistakes.”
“Harold. I still feel terrible about that little fox, but what else could we do?” Kurt asked himself.
“It happened. I don't think either of us would have done anything differently. It was hard on all of us, but a lesson that needed to be learned,” Blaine said in a sad voice. He looked away from Kurt, feeling like it had all been his fault.
Kurt was quick to pick up on that.
“No, baby, don't go blaming yourself. It was both of us. Equally.”
“But the fight we had over you going to work in town . . . that was all me. I was selfish. You love being an architect and I put my work as forest manager for the company above your career. Kurt, you can go back to Church & George. I am so sorry we fought,” Blaine admitted, burying his face in Kurt's shoulder. He nuzzled into his neck and tried to keep his tears at bay.
“Oh, no,” Kurt said, gently extracting his husband from his neck. “No, you were right. I pitched a fit, but when I calmed down I realized you were right. Our children are only going to be children for a short amount of time. Don't think I haven't noticed that you don't go to Warner camp much anymore. I do talk to your brother, and Cooper told me you have an apprentice that is doing most of the managing now . . . “
Blaine's eyes got wide.
“Well, August is the perfect person to take over some of that. They both know we are taking a few years to be with our kids, and now with Mitzi it might be a few more,” Kurt said, pulling Blaine back closer.
“He started classes at the university in the spring. It was supposed to be a surprise I think,” Blaine said. “We are meeting with Mr Warner, Lenore, Puck, Cooper, and August next month to figure things out. As far as I know, Puck and Lenore are happy to give up a share of their part of the company because Puck wants to keep the bike shop. He doesn't want to be a lumberjack.
“Mr Warner is nearing seventy and he's mostly retired now anyway. Dad owned two-thirds of the company, so Cooper and I will split that, though I am going to insist that he takes a bigger percentage of the profits while they are putting in more of the work. We will need to go over the details, but that looks like what is going to happen.”
“Wow. I mean, I kind of knew most of that, but I feel like I was left out.”
“Oh, no, my love. You know as much as I do. I don't see any big surprises where the business is concerned. I wouldn't leave you out,” Blaine put his arms around Kurt and kissed him with passion.
“We need to work on our communication.”
“Okay. I get all wrapped up in the farm, the kids, the business – and I don't pay enough attention to you. I apologize. I promise to make that better from now on,” Blaine professed.
“I do the same thing. There is so much going on all the time! Plus the designing I'm doing here for Church & George. I might not be working in their office, but you know I still do some designing for them. I will agree to work on our communications, too, babe,” Kurt said, kissing Blaine's neck.
“That tickles,” Blaine giggled. Kurt grinned.
“Look at what we've done this year! From making blueberry jam and butter to ice cream and cheese. The kids learned to crochet, quilt, pan for gold, and ice skate. We have found honey bees and learned to take care of farm animals and each other,” Blaine said wistfully.
“Plus we've had visitors – Puck and Lenore, Finn and Rachel, and we reconnected with Dave Karofsky and met his husband. We went to New York and to Aspen.”
The men stopped and looked at each other.
“I am exhausted just talking about this year!” Blaine laughed, tickling Kurt's ribs.
“Hey, no tickling! You know that's a rule in our house. NO tickling,” Kurt squealed, trying to get away. He rolled them out of the hammock and onto the wooden boards of the balcony, Blaine right on top of him. Tickling quickly turned to kissing.
“I know a better place for this activity,” Blaine offered, standing up and offering Kurt his hand.
Kurt took it and they went back inside their bedroom. They slowly undressed each other, the old flame still burning bright between them. Before there were children, before the farm, before it all – there were Blaine and Kurt and a tiny cabin on a big mountain.
Muscle memory served them as they came together, no longer the hesitant fingers and stolen kisses. The passion was still the same, however. Sure fingers and deep emotions brought them together on the bed, kissing and touching each other as if nobody else existed.
Blaine took Kurt into his mouth, loving the primal sounds as he sucked and used his tongue to pleasure his husband. Kurt turned to do the same, loving the taste as Blaine got more excited.
It wasn't long before the tube of Astroglide appeared and they became one, one inside the other as the heat coiled in their bellies and they groaned out their lust for each other.
After cleaning up, they lay in each other's arms, both feeling the most content they had ever felt.
“I love you, baby,” Blaine said, kissing Kurt's neck.
“I love you just as much,” Kurt said before pointing out the open balcony doors at the night sky.
Orion's Belt was watching over them.
~~~~~~THE * END~~~~~