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Fic: Happy Ending

Kid!Klaine
Title: Happy Ending
Rating: G
Words: 3500+
Summary: Things in Storybrooke, Maine were not what they seemed. Everyone, unbeknownst to them, has lived a life in a far off land in a far off time - as fairy tale characters. That includes Kurt Hummel and Blaine Anderson. Just because the fairy tale hasn't been told before doesn't mean it doesn't exist
AN: This is a prompt for a Box Scene donation - lalala-broadway on Tumblr! :) 

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Italics are flashbacks in Fairytale world.

Blaine had run from his life long ago - from his absent parents and charming older brother - and just set out with only a sack over his shoulder with a few possessions, little money, and food that would last three days. The next closest town was four days by foot so Blaine made sure to ration.

For the most part, Blaine loved finally being free. There was nothing but him, the dirt path, and the sounds of the forest. Of course, Blaine had to be careful - there were all sorts of things in the forest to be wary of. Thieves and murders were one thing, but the mysterious and magical were another. Blaine's mother had always made Blaine afraid of the forest by stories of the Dark One and trolls - things that kept him up into the night.

But Blaine was older now, almost to his eighteenth year, and tried to put a brave face on.

That was until Blaine saw the glint of a wolf's eyes in the twilight of night.

Blaine ran as fast as he could, yet he could hear the panting of the wolf - too big and too fast - behind him. This was it then - this was how he died.

"Hey!"

Blaine's heart jumped out of his chest in fear and he stumbled to a stop. He looked around wildly for the human voice, but found no one.

"Up here."

Blaine looked up and to his right - there was a boy, just about ten feet above him on a sturdy branch.

"Climb - give me your hand," said the boy urgently. He couldn't see his face very well, only a pale hand being offered down to Blaine.

Blaine scrambled up the tree, pulling himself up on another branch. Then he reached out for the other boy's hand, holding on tightly as he was hoisted onto the branch as well. Blaine tried to muffle his heavy breathing as the wolf made it to the tree - even the other boy had reached out and put his hand to Blaine's mouth when the wolf paused for a moment.

Then the wolf continued to run, away from them and their hiding spot.

Blaine let out a long breath of relief, his mouth still covered by the boy's hand. He followed the are, just as pale as the hand, to the boy's face, now visible.

He had a long, equally pale face with eyes that were like glass and water. His brown hair - though brown couldn't accurately describe it - was crafted up and away from his forehead.

He was beautiful.

This was another reason why Blaine had left. He didn't know if it was normal or not, but he preferred men's company to woman. He'd told his family, but they didn't seem to understand in the least. He wasn't sure if they were disgusted or just unable to wrap their minds around it, but either way, Blaine wasn't welcomed anymore. He knew that.

"I'm sorry," said the boy, snatching his hand away from Blaine's mouth like he had been touching a hot coal. "I just - sorry!"

"Don't be," said Blaine, still out of breath from his run. "You saved my life."

"I couldn't let you die," said the boy, looking confused.

"My name is Blaine," he said, holding out his hand - he wanted to feel the skin that had been pressed against his lips and cheeks again.

"Kurt." A small smile came over the boy's face when he reached out and shook Blaine's hand. It wasn't that the boy's hands were soft - on the contrary, there were slightly calloused from work - but the warmth and roughness of them were almost breathtaking.

Kurt's eyes went from Blaine's face to his sack, still somehow on his shoulder. "Are you traveling?" he asked. "Way out here?"

"I am," said Blaine. "I - I left my home. I had to -" Blaine tried to find the words he wanted to say. Inside his own head, it made so much sense, but to say them to another person? "I needed to leave."

"Where are you heading?" asked Kurt.

"To the next town to the east," said Blaine. "I still have another day's journey. Maybe a day and a half at this rate."

Kurt bit his lip and tapped his hand nervously on his knee. Blaine tired not to stare to long at him, but it was no use - really, Kurt was the most handsome man he'd ever seen.

"Why don't you come with me? My home is a quarter of a mile from here. I was just collecting firewood for tonight when I heard the wolf. You can rest tonight indoors before moving on."

"Oh, I couldn't impose -"

"My father won't like knowing that I turned you loose by yourself with the wolf in the woods," said Kurt. "And without offering you hospitality. Really, please come."

The pleading look in Kurt's eyes was all Blaine needed. Blaine offered a small smile. "Want to help me get down from here? I honestly don't know how I even got up."

Kurt laughed and nodded, slipping his leg over the branch easily. He lowered himself down, hanging by his hands for a moment before dropping to the ground with ease and grace.

"Wow," breathed Blaine.

He was already in love with this boy.

Blaine turned at the loud sound of slamming lockers to his right, followed by a predictable chorus of laughter.

Kurt Hummel had been slammed into the lockers once again, the football players high fiving each other and laughing proudly as Kurt sat on the ground collecting his possessions that had fallen from his bag.

"Morning, Homo," sneered one of the jocks before finally walking away from Kurt with one last kick to a notebook, which settled a few feet away from Kurt. He sighed heavily before reaching out to pick it up.

Blaine turned away from the other boy, staring pointedly into his locker. This sort of think happened everyday, for as long as Blaine could remember. And for as long as Blaine could remember, he ignored it. He let Kurt pick his things up by himself. He let the jocks push them from his hands in the first place. He never asked if Kurt was alright.

At Storybrooke High School in Storybrooke, Maine, it was business as usual.

Why did he even care?

Sometimes, Blaine did want to help, he really did. But the he'd look down at Kurt, face looking down at the ground and ignoring the jeers and think: That would be me if I helped.

Kurt Hummel was tortured everyday because he was gay; Blaine Anderson wasn't because no one knew - he wanted to keep it that way.

Blaine Anderson was a coward.

Kurt's home was small and modest, but homey and warm. It far exceeded sleeping in the moist and chilly woods for another night in a row. The hearth had a small fire blazing and Kurt lead Blaine right to it to warm up. He fetched him a glass of water and offered him some cold meat, to which Blaine tried to eat politely, but probably failed because of how hungry he was.

Kurt watched silently for a long time until Blaine took a breath - then they began to talk.

Kurt explained that it was just himself and his father, who traveled for work often to trade his craft. "He's due back in just a few hours," said Kurt, feeding some firewood to the fire.

"How long as he been away?"

"Just over a week. He traveled two towns over to a fair," said Kurt. "It's good for business, but obviously I've missed him."

"Of course," said Blaine.

"And you?" asked Kurt. "The mysterious boy who ran away from home to get away? What is that about?"

"My family…" Blaine took a sip of his water to try to find the right words. "I am different, and they don't understand that, I think. At the very least, they don't understand - at most, they hate me."

"Oh Blaine," said Kurt, reaching over and placing a hand on his knee. "I understand a thing or two of being - different." They shared a long look, the only sound in the small cabin the sound of the crackling flames and their almost stilled breathing. Kurt cleared his throat, looking down with a blush at the way his hand rested on Blaine's knee and snatched it away quickly.

Different, Blaine thought.

Hours later, Burt, Kurt's father returned, weary but ladled with meats, vegetables and other goods he had bought with the money he had made in the last week. Kurt introduced Blaine to him shortly and Blaine immediately began to help Kurt with the haul, bringing it inside off the wagon while Burt attended to a small, old horse.

Kurt cooked what could be considered a feast that night and Burt wanted to hear more about Blaine. When Blaine explained that he was running away, Burt seemed concerned and resigned, once Blaine explained himself further.

"I don't know about running away from your family, son," said Burt. "But I think you're an honest kid - if my son trusts you, then so do I - so I can only say you are welcome here as long as you need to stay."

"I won't impose any longer than necessary," insisted Blaine.

"Really, stay as long as you need," said Burt. "It can get lonely here, just the two of us. I will be leaving again in three days and I'm sure Kurt could use the company. This new life of yours can start whenever you want it to, after all. What's the rush?"

Blaine had to admit that Burt was right.

Which was why Blaine was still at the little cabin when Burt left three days later, promising to return in a week, his wagon full of his creations.

Blaine found that not only was he falling for Kurt, but he honestly enjoyed his company. They worked well together, Blaine thought.

He couldn't be sure if Kurt felt the same way.

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Blaine left soccer practice later than everyone else. He had wanted to kick the ball in the empty goal a few times after official practice had ended to let out some aggression and when that didn't work did about twenty minutes at the punching bag and then showered. The student lot was all but empty when he walked to his truck and climbed inside.

It didn't start.

Blaine tried again and again, but it was just stalling lamely as he turned the key. Blaine sighed and let his head fall down on the steering wheel, probably leaving indentions into his forehead. Perfect. He'd have to either walk home or try to call someone to come get him, which was unlikely.

A loud tapping on his window interrupted Blaine's thoughts and made him physically jump.

"Sorry."

Blaine stared in surprise at the window. On the other side was Kurt Hummel.

"I just noticed you had some car issues," said Kurt awkwardly. "I can take a look. Or call my dad to tow you."

Blaine nodded and opened his door, coming out to stand next to Kurt. "Uh, yeah, I guess you can call your dad." Of course everyone knew that Kurt's dad owned the Tire and Lube shop on main street. It was the only car repair shop in town after all.

Kurt called and said a few short words to what must have been his dad on the other end, then hung up. He looked awkwardly at Blaine for a few moments and something struck Blaine - like déjà vu - a memory that Blaine couldn't quite get a hold of before it slipped away again.

"I can either stay here or just - I don't know - leave?" asked Kurt.

"Why?"

Kurt gave him a look. "Because… well, we don't really - I mean - I don't think you've ever said two words to me. Same here."

Blaine looked away from Kurt. It was true, after all. Blaine wasn't popular, really, but he got by. He was technically a jock. But if he was caught talking to any of the Glee kids, he'd be just as teased as them.

"Why you here so late?" asked Blaine instead.

"Glee ran late and then I decided to practice a solo I've been wanting to perform for a while," said Kurt. "Not that you care, I'm sure."

"I do," said Blaine before he could stop himself. Kurt's expression was curious. "I just mean -" sputtered Blaine. "I - singing is - I like it. I mean, I only sing in my shower and car and stuff… but I like it."

"But you're not in glee," said Kurt.

"No," said Blaine, his shoulders deflating. When he'd first come to high school, he had wanted to…but Blaine was the courageous type. "I don't want to be… uh."

"You can say it," said Kurt stiffly. "You don't want to be bullied. You have a perfect life with perfect friends and you want to keep it that way."

"I don't have a perfect life," protested Blaine. "Or friends. I have people on soccer who I like, talk to - but no one to - that is a friend. And you don't know anything about my life so -"

"I know you watch as those jocks push the books out of my arms everyday," said Kurt angrily. "And look away when the push me into lockers and call me slurs. You look away but you always look back, just to stare at me - then you walk on by like nothing is going on. Like your above it all. You've been doing that for three years and it makes me sick."

"I'm - I'm sorry," said Blaine. Kurt looked like he had been taking a breath to continue his rant, but stopped short in surprise. "Look I just - I can't." Blaine leaned against his truck, trying not to cry. "I can't do what you do everyday, okay? We can't all be - as brave as you. As - out."

Blaine shut his mouth. He couldn't even believe he had said that. He'd only come out once in his life, with his parents, and that had never been spoken of ever again. And here he had just basically said it again - to Kurt Hummel, of all people.

"Blaine," said Kurt gently. "Are you gay?"

"I can't," Blaine repeated. "I can't."

"Hey, it's okay," said Kurt. "You don't have to - only when you're ready, right?" he said, trying to keep his voice light. Blaine looked away from him, his face hot.

They stood in silence until a truck from Hummel's Tire and Lube showed up. Kurt greeted the man, who must have not been his father. Kurt turned to Blaine once his car had been attached to the truck.

"Do you - do you want to ride to the shop or me to drive you home?" he asked.

"I guess you can drop me off at my house," said Blaine quietly. Kurt lead him to his Navigator without a word.

They drove in silence, Blaine nervous about what he could say. It wasn't until Kurt had parked in front of Blaine's house, a huge structure that was his parents' pride and joy, just next door to Storybrooke's mayor, that Kurt said something.

"I'm here to talk, if you need it," he said quietly. "Outside of school, so no one has to see. You're not alone, Blaine. You don't have to feel that way."

Blaine didn't say anything as he opened the door of the car and got out.

To be perfectly honest, Blaine didn't want to leave Kurt's company or his home. They had gotten on well together since Burt had left two days ago, joking while the worked around the house. Blaine felt like, for once in his life, he felt like he belonged somewhere.

Still there was the nagging thoughts in the back of Blaine's head - the thoughts that kept bringing up how attractive Kurt was. How beautiful he was when he sat in front of the fire and told stories late into the night.

But what if these feelings weren't normal? Blaine had never heard of one loving their own sex, after all.

Here Blaine was, however, in love with a man.

Many times, Blaine just wanted to lean over and kiss Kurt's lips, stopping him as he spoke.

Maybe it was because Blaine had imagined it countless times as he stared at Kurt and lay awake in the cot by the fire that one day, Blaine did just that.

Kurt had been talking about something or another, and usually Blaine hung on every word, but tonight he could only focus on his perfect lips. So Blaine found himself leaning closer and closer, until there was no room between them and his lips were on Kurt's and everything was right.

Blaine pulled back quickly, when he realized what he was doing.

Kurt's eyes were wide and shocked as he stared back at Blaine and he knew that it was a mistake - this wasn't right and Kurt was angry. Blaine should just pack up now and -

"Wow," said Kurt under his breath. "You're - you like - I mean…" Kurt looked frustrated. "You're like me."

"What?" asked Blaine.

"I always knew I wasn't like the other boys in town," said Kurt in a rush. "When I lived in town before my mother died. I never like the towns girls. I had a crush on this boy - anyway - you're - you're like me."

"I am," said Blaine, breathlessly. "I never thought - I mean - I thought maybe I was wrong."

"If that was wrong," said Kurt, a playful smiling on his lips. "Then I don't want to know what right feels like."

Then Kurt leaned forward, connecting their lips again.

Blaine stayed with Kurt and Burt for good after that. He'd finally found his new life. People to accept him, like Burt, who took his son's relationship with love and understanding - and most importantly, someone to love, with Kurt.

It was Blaine's happy ending.

Blaine wanted to take Kurt up on his offer. For days after his confession, he wanted to talk to him. To finally have someone to confide in.

He couldn't. Something was stopping him.

Blaine walked outside a few days later to his car before school started, which had finally gotten fixed, and almost ran into someone.

"Whoa there, Henry," said Blaine, steadying both himself and the little boy by his shoulders. The kid was holding a book that looked bigger than him. "What's the hurry?" Since Blaine had lived next door to the mayor, he'd seen Henry grow up over the years. He felt like an older brother, almost.

"Nothing," said Henry quickly. He looked down at the book he was holding, then to Blaine. He gave Blaine a significant look, as if he was trying figure something out, then shrugged. "Gotta get to school - bye Blaine!"

Blaine watched Henry hurry down the side walk, going to the yellow beetle car a few houses down. Blaine turned to his own truck and drove to school.

As usually, Blaine heard the locker slam and the sound of someone falling to the ground. The laughter that followed. Blaine looked over to the usual sight.

For the first time, Blaine thought - things could change.

Which is why Blaine marched himself over to Kurt and leaned down for one of his books, handing it to him. Kurt looked surprised and the jocks still laughing stopped. This wasn't normal.

They were shocked enough that Blaine helped gather the rest of Kurt's things and then held out his hand for him. Kurt took it after a moment, letting Blaine help him up. They walked down the hall, Blaine handing over his things.

"Thank you," said Kurt after a moment. "I know that was - that was a lot for you."

"I don't deserve a thank you," said Blaine. "Not until I've made up for all the times I ignored it."

"You don't have to make up for anything, Blaine," said Kurt.

"Why do I feel like I have to?"

Kurt just smiled. He reached out and took Blaine's hand, squeezing it for a moment before dropping it. The bell rang and he walked into his own classroom.

Blaine stood there for a long moment. There were a few things that would have to change, now, so Blaine could be honest with himself. Because one thing was for sure - Blaine wanted to have a happy ending.

FIN

Since I don't know how they will take things in season 2, I just ended it there. Obviously Henry is still in the midst of scheming and such - so. : )

Fic: Fanfare - Epilogue

Kid!Klaine
Title: Fanfare
Rating: PG
Word Count2,200+
Summary Kurt Hummel is everything Blaine wants to be: out and proud, talented, and courageous. Blaine would love to tell him how he feels, but then, Kurt Hummel is a famous singer and actor and he will never know that Blaine even exists. Right?

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2 and a half months later: New York City

"Rachel is almost ready," said Blaine, slipping his cell phone back into his suit pocket, double checking to make sure it was on silent mode first. "She's being dropped off just as soon as she puts her shoes on."

"I hope she wears something sensible, yet still eye-catching," said Kurt with a frown. "It's her first big event, after all, and she's going to realize how long that red carpet can be."

"I'm sure she chose wisely," said Blaine. "It's Rachel."

"True."

Blaine laughed, scooting closer to Kurt and resting his head on his shoulder, careful not to mess up his hair in the process. "You ready for this? It's a pretty big step."

"I am," said Kurt, sounding quite confident about it all. "I mean, people already assume. This is just confirming what they've thought for months."

"True," said Blaine, in a similar tone that Kurt had just used for the same statement. He reached down to play with the ring on Kurt's hand, which hadn't left his finger for more than a few minutes since Christmas. "I'm still nervous. I've never been on a red carpet before, let alone dropped big news on one."

"Get used to it. After you drop your album in a few months, I'm sure you'll be on plenty," teased Kurt.

"Will you be by my side?"

"Always."

"We're here, Mr. Hummel; Mr. Anderson," said the driver from the front of the car. Kurt looked out the window, nodding at the people rushing outside. He could already see the bright flashes from cameras.

"This is the best place we could come out as a couple," said Kurt, turning back to Blaine, who had grown slightly pale at the sight. "People here will accept us no matter what."

"I know," said Blaine. He took a deep breath. "Okay. Let's do this."

Kurt opened the door of the car, stepping out in one fluid motion. He heard the sounds around him - from fans and interviewers - that told him they had seen him already. Kurt turned around, offering a hand to Blaine.

Blaine reached out, shaky, but held firm to his hand. Kurt helped him out of the car, then adjusted their hands so they were clutched tightly together. The sounds of the cameras clicking in rapid secession was almost deafening, paired with all the people calling out their names (mostly Kurt's at the moment, though he could hear a few "Blaines!" in the mix).

Kurt pulled Blaine with him, pausing to take photos down the line of photographers. They all ate up their joint hands and the way they dropped them at some point, putting arms around each others' waists to pose.

Once that was over, Kurt heard Blaine breath a sigh of relief as they entered a lull between the photos and interviews.

"Halfway done," said Kurt. "We got this." Blaine sent him a grateful smile.

The first microphone they walked to, being pointed to by Kurt and Blaine's handler, was for E! news. The interviewer was a younger woman, who greeted them warmly. She looked to the camera, introducing them before turning to them once again.

"Hello you two!" she said. "I'm so glad you could attend the Trevor Project Live here in New York with us tonight!"

"We're happy to be here," said Kurt. "I always love coming to Trevor Live, but I haven't been to the New York event in two years. It's nice to be back."

"Of course, of course," said the woman. "And okay, I have to ask, because there has been rumors speculating about who Kurt Hummel's boyfriend is for months, and then quite a few around you, Blaine - and here you are, holding hands - a girl jumps to a few conclusions. So, spill?"

Kurt grinned and looked to Blaine, who was putting on a confident façade at the moment. "Well," he said, dragging out the word. "I'd be lying if I said Blaine wasn't my boyfriend, wouldn't I?"

"Oh my god, that is so adorable," she said. Kurt knew she had just bagged the story of her career so far, getting the first confirmation of a dating couple. "Why the sudden truthfulness on the subject?"

"We didn't really want to show off our private lives too much," said Blaine, taking over with an easy smile. "I was still in high school when we started dating, and no where near California where Kurt was living, so it was just easier to keep it under wraps. But now it seems like, well, it's going to come out sooner or later and we're definitely not ashamed to admit it."

"Quite the opposite," said Kurt with a nod. "And we felt like here, among friends and allies, would be the best place for news like this."

"I completely agree," said the woman. "I wish all the best to the both of you and I hope you have a fantastic night!"

"Thank you," chorused Kurt and Blaine before moving on to the next interviewer.

After that, most of them asked about their relationship, which they were able to smooth over quickly from there. They were both on highs from being here, together, and proudly open with their hands clasped. Many of the interviewers asked about their career plans.

"My movie is going into pre-production right now," said Kurt with a sly smile. "I wrote it and will be staring in it and I'm so excited to get started. It doesn't have any direct LGBTQ themes to it - but that is just the point I wanted to make. I was always turned down for more masculine, straight roles because of what I look like. I'm no different than Neil Patrick Harris, who everyone seems to be comfortable watching play straight. We're both actors and I just want to showcase that it shouldn't matter what you are, as long as you play the role well."

Blaine even got to talk about his own plans.

"I'm recording an album right now," he said. "I can't believe it. It's with Crescendo Records and I'm having a fun time working with songwriters right now, talking about what I want to sing about and learning a few things as well. One day I would love to write my own things. I'm actually using a song my friend Rachel Berry - who should be around here somewhere - wrote when we were in high school. It's a beautiful ballad and I can't wait for people to hear it."

They finally found Rachel as well, speaking to an interviewer with excited hand motions.

"I've only been in the city since my graduation almost three months ago, but I've just started rehearsing for a music off-Broadway. I'm learning so many things that I hope to one day take to the bright lights of Broadway."

Kurt and Blaine greeted Rachel in the middle of her interview, not able to hold back any longer. Blaine hadn't seen her since the goodbye at Kurt's house and their moves to separate coasts. They crashed the rest of Rachel's interview and then moved inside to the main event a few minutes before it began.

About halfway into the event, all three of them stole away backstage to get their mics to perform.

When Blaine and Rachel were invited along with Kurt to sing at Trevor Live, it was another one of those "pinch me" moments that had been happening more and more often lately. It was almost obviously, however, when Blaine thought of it. Kurt was just as famous as ever, with the added buzz of becoming a writer for his own movie. Rachel was still uploading videos on YouTube and her following was rising, plus she was about to start climbing up the ladder of performance in New York City. Then there was Blaine, about to be a recording artist. Add the fact that all of them had LGBTQ ties and in Rachel's case, already quite vocal about how she wanted to be involved with the community, it was obvious.

When Blaine walked on stage with his boyfriend and best friend, however, all this thought couldn't prepare him for what waited for him.

Everyone had eyes on them, whooping and clapping as they walked on in excitement after the announcer said their names.

The slower melody began as the band in the pit began to play, Rachel taking a deep breath before she began to sing, emotion written plainly on her face.

"Da Da Da Da

The smell of your skin lingers on me now

You're probably on your flight back to your home town

I need some shelter of my own protection baby

To be with myself and center, clarity

Peace, Serenity"

Kurt walked up to her side, looking down at her with a comforting smile and reaching over to give her a side hug with the arm not holding the microphone as he sang the next few lines by himself.

"I hope you know, I hope you know

That this has nothing to do with you

It's personal, myself and I

We've got some straightenin' out to do"

Blaine joined in with Rachel's voice, their tones mixing together well as he stepped up to join her and Kurt in line, slipping his hand into Kurt's.

"And I'm gonna miss you like a child misses their blanket

But I've got to get a move on with my life

It's time to be a big girl now

And big girls don't cry

Don't cry

Don't cry

Don't cry"

The repeated the chorus together once more, separating on the stage again and singing out to the audience in front of them. Then they got to Blaine's favorite part of the song - the part he had been waiting for. Kurt sang first, walking toward Blaine with an alluring smile as he reaching out his hand toward Blaine again.

"Like the little school mate in the school yard

We'll play jacks and uno cards

I'll be your best friend and you'll be my Valentine"

They laced their fingers together and Blaine gravitated toward Kurt, stepping closer to him than he would have ever dared to do in pubic. But now they were together to everyone - this was something Blaine could do whenever he wanted. Kurt was his boyfriend - and the world knew it. He couldn't help the smile and laugh that followed into his part of the verse, spreading to Kurt, whose face scrunched up in delight.

"Yes you can hold my hand if you want to

'Cause I want to hold yours too

We'll be playmates and lovers and share our secret worlds"

Blaine could hear the light applause that followed this part of the song, the encouraging whoops and cheers made Blaine laughed as Rachel started her verse. They rejoined in the center of the stage, all holding hands as they ended the song. Rachel hugged Blaine's side as the song faded out, then looked out to the thundering applause and waved happily - she was in her element.

Blaine turned to Kurt, slipping his arms around his waist and pulling him down slightly to press a soft, barely there, kiss to his lips. That, as predicted, gained more response from the crowd. Blaine giggled away from Kurt's lips, pressing his forehead to Kurt's for a moment, before detangling himself from his body and reaching out for Kurt's hand again. He took it, and grabbed Rachel, walking off stage as the next presenter of the night shuffled on.

The rest of the night was a blur of camaraderie and plain fun. Blaine was able to meet some of his idols - Jesse Tyler Ferguson, NPH and David Burtka - and really have some thoughtful conversation with them. They commended him on being so young, as well as out and proud. He and Kurt were asked about their relationship many times, but it was fun to talk about that. They withheld some - they needed some privacy, after all - but were happy to share. Everyone who asked tonight was genuinely happy for them. In the future, that might not be the case, but for tonight, it was enough.

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June 28th 2012

KurtHummel:

BlaineA I'm going on a hot date tonight - have any suggestions for what I should wear? ;)

BlaineA:

KurtHummel Oh man, lucky guy. ;) Well you look good in everything. Maybe that grey suit that's been in the back of your closet for the last month?

KurtHummel:

BlaineA What would I do without you. And oh yes, completely lucky. But here's a secret: I'm the lucky one, too. 3

Fin

There it is. It's DONE. I can't believe it. Thanks for reading and sticking with me all this time! I know there were some long waits because of school, and I know how frustrating that can be, so thank you! To answer any reviews I will probably get - I won't be continuing anything as of now! If something dire about their future came to me that I just had to write, I will, but it probably will not happen. It's up to you, now, to imagine what will happen come Blaine's CD, Kurt's Movie, and Rachel's potential Broadway career!

Love you all, mwah!

Fic: Fanfare 10/10+epilogue

Kid!Klaine
Title: Fanfare
Rating: PG
Word Count: 4,500+
Summary Kurt Hummel is everything Blaine wants to be: out and proud, talented, and courageous. Blaine would love to tell him how he feels, but then, Kurt Hummel is a famous singer and actor and he will never know that Blaine even exists. Right?

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This is the last official chapter - after this there will only be an epilogue! :D I hope you like.

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As soon as they got to Kurt's apartment, Rachel flew into the guest bathroom to shower. Blaine went to Kurt's bathroom to shower and when he came back to guest room Rachel was in nothing but a towel, no shame, and looking between a half dozen dresses laid out on her bed.

"Blaine!" she said, pulling him over. "Help me choose! Kurt helped me narrow it down but I just don't know."

Finally the found something - a cute, but more mature fitting light pink dress and a pair of black flats. Since Kurt had all but taken away all of Rachel's knee length socks, the outfit made her look like a trendy, mature young adult. After Kurt had gotten dressed and insisted to Rachel that the Ellen Show staff would help with her makeup and hair, they went off to Warner Brothers studio for the taping.

They were ushered through security after a tall man checked over his headpiece, since Rachel was a new addition to the show today, then handed over to a busy looking blonde woman with a similar headset and clipboard. She seemed to know Kurt from his previous interviews on the show and greeted him warmly. Kurt introduced her to Rachel and Blaine, then Rachel was taken to hair and make up while Blaine and Kurt were left in the guest dressing room.

Rachel appeared thirty minutes later, with just a bit more make up on then she usually wore so her face wouldn't be completely lost on camera. She was fidgeting after coming back to the room, not staying in one place for long. She sat next to Blaine for a few minutes, holding his hand, then stood to pace.

"What am I even going to talk about?" asked Rachel. "Oh god. I'm not famous."

"Rachel, relax," said Kurt calmly. "Ellen is a professional. She'll know what to ask you - all you have to do is give an honest answer. If you don't want to answer something personal - which I doubt she'll even ask - then just politely talk around it. You'll be just fine. Your interview will be shorter than the first guest, just under 5 minutes or so. She will probably play one of your videos, too."

"Rachel, this is a talk show," added Blaine. "If anyone knows how to talk, it's you." This earned a laugh from Rachel, which Blaine considered a victory.

Just then there was a knock at the door. Rachel jumped and Kurt called for them to come in. The door opened and Ellen - Ellen - walked just inside the door with a wide smile.

"Kurt Hummel, it's great to see you again," she said when she saw him. Kurt rose from his chair and walked over to hug her, then kiss her cheek.

"It's always a pleasure to see you, too," said Kurt. "And of course, you know my friends - Rachel Berry and Blaine Anderson."

Both Rachel and Blaine before now were staring wide eyed at the talk show host. Ellen turned to them, an inviting smile on her face as she reached out to shake their hands, then hug them. "I'm so glad you could make it on short notice," said Ellen as she separated from a speechless Rachel. "I have to say, I love your voice - you have some talent there."

"I - wow - thank you," said Rachel breathlessly.

"I just wanted to make sure you're all comfortable and ready to go on. The show starts in ten minutes and you'll be taken out to the wings by Shelly during what would be the commercial break time period before your interview. Kurt and Blaine, you two can watch from in here, or go stand backstage and watch from the sides."

"Thank you," said Kurt.

"And hey - don't look like I'm going to bit! I don't - much," said Ellen with a laugh, nudging Rachel. Rachel smiled. "I know this is probably your first interview so I'll go easy on you. I won't have anything creep up behind you or anything - scout's honor!"

"I - thank you so much," said Rachel, looking relieved.

Once Ellen had left, they all settled in to watch the live broadcast from the TV screen on the wall. After the first guest had done their interview almost 45 minutes later (since it was broadcasted live, there were a few breaks in between bits with Ellen) Shelly knocked on the door to come get Rachel.

She led them to the side, and pointed to Kurt and Blaine where they should stand to watch the show, next to a few other people who worked on the show. There was a small break where Ellen was getting her make up touched up and then sat back down on her chair. The camera man was doing a few signals and then the house lights dimmed, alerting the audience to applaud.

"My next guest is some what of an upcoming star - she has dozens of videos on YouTube showcasing her amazing voice and just a few days ago took the stage with actor and singer Kurt Hummel covering a duet from the Broadway show "Wicked" - take a look here!" said Ellen. The screen behind her lit up with a good quality video of Rachel and Kurt singing together at the karaoke bar. A few seconds later it had disappeared and Ellen was smiling down at her monitor. "Please welcome Rachel Berry!"

Ellen stood as the music began to play - "Call Me Maybe" - and Rachel came out, her smile blinding as she waved shyly out at the audience. She walked to where Ellen stood, reaching out to hug her again. They stood at their chairs, doing a little dance that ended up in Rachel letting out a loud laugh.

The music faded when they sat down, Rachel's smile never failing. She was a showman, after all.

"Hi there Rachel," said Ellen.

"Hi Ellen," said Rachel, as if she couldn't believe where she was right now - even Blaine standing backstage couldn't believe he was watching his best friend filming a television interview.

"So things have been happening pretty quickly for you this week, haven't they?" asked Ellen. "Your previously uploaded YouTube videos have gone up in hits since you did your duet with Kurt Hummel, right?"

"Oh yes," said Rachel excitedly. "I swear to you, most of them had like, 5 views if any. Maybe one was mine, another my friend Blaine's - my family members and that's it, really. It was so amazing to see them jump the next day - and all the positive feedback. I never really have gotten that online."

"With a voice like yours - really?"

"Oh yes," said Rachel. "I mean, I'm not the prettiest girl at my school and Glee club - that's a show choir I'm in at my school - isn't popular at all."

"Well something tells me it's about to be," joked Ellen and the audience laughed with her. Rachel laughed as well and nodded. "So you're not from here, right? You're from Ohio?"

"Yes, Lima," said Rachel. "I'm a senior at McKinley high school."

"And you're in Glee club there? Is singing your thing?"

"It is," gushed Rachel. "I've been singing and performing since I was very, very young. My dads really spoiled me in the arts that way - I owe them a lot for that, because I'll never get to Broadway without it."

"Dads?" said Ellen, looking surprised. Blaine figured she hadn't had too much time to brush up on Rachel. There probably wasn't much information out there to begin with.

"Yes, I have two dads," said Rachel brightly. "They used a surrogate - to this day we don't really even know who is my biological dad, which I think is special." Blaine held back a laugh at this - of course Rachel knew who her dad was - it was hard to miss, considering Hiram was white and Leroy is black. But she loved to say it anyway.

"Wow," said Ellen, looking genuinely impressed. "I'm sure growing up with two dads in Ohio of all places isn't - uh, easy."

"I'm so proud of them for that, though," said Rachel. "Really, we do live in a homophobic, conservative town and at times I know my friend, who is also gay, gets a lot of bullying for it - but he's in Glee club with me and we're all family and accept each other no matter what. It's the only reason a girl like me has friends in the first place."

"Is that Blaine Anderson, the other boy at the Karaoke bar the other night?" asked Ellen. "I have to say, he's cute."

"He is - and almost as talented as me," said Rachel, to which people laughed, not realizing it was just the way Rachel was and not really a joke.

"So you have plans for Broadway?"

"It's my dream," said Rachel. "To go to New York and star in shows - though this is the first time I've been to California, and I love it too - New York is the city for me. It felt like home the moment I visited last year. I just hope I can work hard enough to achieve my dream of Broadway."

"Well I definitely think you have the chops - thanks so much for being on the show today, Rachel."

"Thank you - it's just a dream," said Rachel. "My dads sort of love you and I can't even imagine their faces when they watch this."

Ellen laughed. "Well, I love them back." Ellen turned to the camera and listed off who was on the show tomorrow and to tune in for the end of the show. Then the camera panned back and the recording lights were switched off.

After a few seconds talking with Ellen, Rachel walked to where Blaine and Kurt were sitting. She flew into Blaine's arms, hugging him tightly. She was shaking - from nerves or excitement, Blaine wasn't sure.

"That was - amazing," said Rachel. "I can't believe that just happened, Blaine."

"Me neither!" said Blaine with a laugh.

About thirty minutes later they had gotten all their things together and left the studio, still talking excitedly about Rachel's interview and how they could watch it on TV tomorrow.

Also tomorrow, which Blaine was bursting with nerves with, was his meeting with a recording label.

The next morning Blaine was woken by soft kisses against his lips and the side of his chin, all the way down his neck. He shivered as he was brought into consciousness, Kurt making a pleased sound where he was kissing Blaine's neck.

"Good morning," he mumbled against Blaine's skin. Blaine slowly realized their legs were tangled under the blankets, Kurt's hand ghosting over the thin material of Blaine's tank top.

"Yes, definitely good," said Blaine before he'd thought through the words. He blushed at them but Kurt just chuckled.

He pressed another kiss up Blaine's chin, then on his lips. Blaine worried if his morning breath was horrible, but at the same time, thought it was nice that Kurt didn't seem to care. "I like this," said Kurt after he pulled away, his hot breath fanning over Blaine's wet lips.

"What?"

"Waking up next to you." Kurt kissed the corner of Blaine's lips. "I know we haven't - I know we're not ready for that yet," he said, cheeks turning red. "But this - this where we are for now and I really like it. I can't help but think -"

Kurt cut himself off, looking embarrassed. "Wait, what?" asked Blaine, nudging Kurt with his toe. "Come on. You can tell me anything."

"I can't help but think about doing this everyday," mumbled Kurt. "When you're here next year. I - I like that more than I can even explain."

Blaine's stomach flipped pleasantly. Waking up in Kurt's arms every morning, walking around Kurt's kitchen in the morning and sipping coffee together - being together more than a few days at a time - it was an amazing thought.

"I can't wait either," said Blaine. "God, I'm so glad I'm graduating early." He pulled Kurt closer to him, kissing him deeply.

Almost twenty minutes later they pulled each other out of bed and to the kitchen. Rachel already brewed a pot of coffee and was sipping her own cup and staring at her computer.

After a light breakfast, everyone got ready and were on their way to the record company - it was a bit smaller than the big labels, and according to Kurt's manager, signed both indie and more mainstream names. It was called "Crescendo Records" and Steve James was the man who owned it and saw Blaine sing.

Kurt's manager met them in the lobby and they were all brought to a large room for the meeting. After only a few minutes of sitting there waiting, Steve James walked in - he was a man of medium built with light grey hair and bright red glasses frames, dressed comfortably and stylishly in a suit without a tie. He shook everyone's hand, even Rachel's, who was just there to accompany them.

"I wanted to get right to business," said Steve, who insisted to be called such after Blaine called him "Mr. James". "Blaine - you got an amazing voice and you have the confident air and look to make it in this industry. Besides your duet with Kurt, I've seen all the videos we can find on you from YouTube. There are some of you singing with the acapella group and with Miss Berry over there. I am impressed - you have a wide range."

"Thank you," said Blaine, still a bit starstruck by this whole ordeal.

"When do you graduate, Blaine?" asked Steve.

"This May," he answered. "I'm graduating early, technically."

"That's good," said Steve. He was silent for a few beats, then nodded. "Blaine, I wanted to seriously offer you a recording contract with my label. We haven't exactly had a big hit yet, but I think that you have that potential to put us on the map."

Blaine looked from Steve to Kurt, then to Rachel with wide eyes. "Are you serious?" asked Blaine. "Me?"

"Yes," said Steve, a small smile playing on his lips. "Since you don't graduate until May, we could get together some song writers until then to craft an album - unless you write yourself - and be ready to record over the summer. Have it produced and out by late this year or early next and hit the streets with promotion. We could probably get a single out on the radio locally, and if we can get it out there enough, it could break through to mainstream. You already have buzz surrounding you." His eyes looked over to Kurt, who smiled and nodded. "I believe we could make this happen. Only if you want it, though."

"I - I think I do," said Blaine. He looked to Rachel, remembering their conversation that seemed to be years ago. He hadn't been sure what he really wanted then for his future - he still didn't know exactly - but he knew he wanted Kurt in it. This could be a serious way to be in California for the long haul and make sure his future was set to do so. He remembered what Rachel had said - that he could do anything he wanted.

Maybe he could.

Blaine looked over to Kurt's manager - she was basically his at this moment, after all, all that was left was some contracts - and she nodded. "I think it would be a good idea, Blaine. Of course, there should be paperwork sent to me and I can look it over on Blaine's behalf. Make sure everything is in order."

"Of course," said Steve.

"And I can't write," said Blaine. "Well, I've never considered myself a song writer. I would have to have songs written for me - though I'd be interested in the writing process. I know how to play piano and guitar, if that helps."

"He can use my song!" burst out Rachel, who then blushed.

"Rachel?"

"I have a song. It's called 'Get it Right'," she said. "I think - I think it would fit you well, Blaine."

"Are you sure?" asked Blaine. He reached over and placed his hand on Rachel's. He knew how close that song was to her heart. It was about Finn and everything in her life that didn't seem to be going right last year, before they knew each other. It was personal.

"I'm not going to really use it," said Rachel. "I'm meant for Broadway, not writing and recording songs for a CD - you can use it."

"I'd love to hear this song," said Steve. They promptly pulled it up on a screen in the room - the video of Rachel performing it at Regionals last year - and Steve looked impressed. "I think this would suit Blaine here…the key will have to be changed, obviously, but I could see it being the second single. It's always better to go with a more upbeat first single, but this will definitely make it on the album if you want it."

They talked for at least another half hour and Steve made sure that he would be sending out the contract to Kurt's manger. It wasn't a done deal quite yet, but Blaine walked out of Crescendo Recordings, knowing that he was steps away from being a signed recording artist.

It was happening.

The next day Blaine and Rachel boarded a plane back to Lima, a long goodbye for both of them to Kurt at his apartment before parting.

The next Monday at school, everyone stared at both Rachel and Blaine as they walked into school. Rachel's interview had aired the day after she filmed it, all of them gathered around the television and watching it - and afterwards she called her dads and gushed. Everyone from back home had been texting or calling them, freaking out for the most part.

It seemed like most everyone had either seen the interview, heard about it, or seen the videos of the karaoke bar.

Ellen was right - suddenly, they weren't the least popular people in the school anymore.

Rachel was ecstatic, soaking in all the attention she was getting. People asked her a few questions about Ellen and Kurt, but for the most part, it was stares and whispers and rumors. It was both exciting and unnerving for Blaine.

He didn't have much focus to waste, though, because it was back to his busy scheduled of balancing school, glee club and talking to Kurt at night. His manager (now Blaine's as well, as of the day he left, since that paper work had been signed) was still going over the contract for the record label. It would be sent to Blaine soon so he could sign it and it would be official.

To add to add to everything else before Spring Break, they were all worrying about Nationals. The seniors wanted to win now more than ever and both the tension and excitement was palpable in the air of the choir room and everyone could feel it. Some relief was senior skip day, which Blaine was happy to attend - even the underclassmen of the glee club came to the theme park to goof off for a day and it gave Blaine a three day weekend to devote to homework and a full day of talking to Kurt on Skype.

Soon the contract had been sent to Blaine and he signed it quickly. He was officially going to put out an album. He had already talked it over with his parents, and while they were wary, they accepted this was what he would be doing. Blaine promised them that if nothing had come of the record in two years, he would go back to school - though he was still considering taking classes come fall no matter what.

Things seemed to fast forward from there.

Nationals was in Chicago this year. Everyone in the show choir circuit was abuzz when they arrived, seeing as Rachel was still rising in her "internet stardom". She posted a video every week, either a solo or a duet she made Blaine or another member of Glee club sing with her.

Their set list was amazing, if Blaine said so himself. Every senior had a spot light at least once in all the songs and Blaine soaked up the moment - his last moment performing with his friends on a high school stage.

Kurt hadn't been able to come. As it was, his script had been finished a few weeks ago and his manger was in the process of finding a film company to pick it up. They focused on smaller companies and directors, since there would be a better chance there. It seemed possible, according to Kurt, though he was nervous. So instead Rachel's dads were there, camcorder in hand to record the performance and sent to Kurt later.

They won Nationals - finally. Everyone almost couldn't believe it. They entered the school the next day, huge trophy in hand, met with a celebration in the hallway. The student body had begun to warm up to the Glee club ever since Rachel was on Ellen, and it looked like they were really starting to accept them. Blaine hoped this would make it easier to rebuild the glee club next year, since they would need more members to compete after half of them graduated.

Then suddenly, it was graduation. It had been a long, emotional week, saying goodbye to all his underclassmen friends and most of the upperclassmen too. So far, only Mercedes was for sure coming out to LA. Puck was still thinking about coming as well, and Rachel was heading for New York. Since she was still running on a high from her internet stardom, her new manager, a friend of Kurt's who was located in New York, was going to start getting her auditions for Off-Broadway. If she couldn't nail down a good living in a few years, she would go to school or something - but she was going to take a few risks now.

Which meant living on different coasts.

Blaine had already gotten ready at his house and said goodbye to his parents, who would be meeting him at the school for graduation, and went to Kurt's house where Rachel and Kurt were waiting for him.

Blaine greeted Kurt with a long kiss, since it was their first time together since Spring Break, only breaking apart at Burt's cough. Burt and Carole took photos of Finn, Rachel and Blaine separately and then in every possible combination.

"Dad, take a photo of Rachel, Blaine and I," said Kurt, handing over his phone to his dad. Burt fumbled with it for a few moments before Carole took it from him with a small pat on his hand. She snapped the photo and Kurt took back the camera.

"You're tweeting that, aren't you?" asked Blaine dryly.

"Of course."

Blaine's phone buzzed in his pocket and he dug it out from under his robe.

KurtHummel: I'm so proud of my friends RachelBerry and BlaineA who are graduating high school today! :D

"You are too cute," said Blaine, looking up from his phone and leaning over to kiss Kurt again.

Burt and Carole hurried everyone out of the house so they could make it to graduation. It was a fun ceremony and seemed to be over quickly. Blaine was the first to be called, his last name the first on the list of course, and could wear he heard Kurt's whistle in the front row.

Afterwards, Blaine introduced his parents, Cooper with them who had flown in for graduation, to Kurt and his dad. Blaine's dad seemed mildly disinterested, but was at least mostly polite. His mother greeted Kurt warmly enough and spoke to both Carole and Burt for a few minutes.

Then everyone in Glee club, Kurt in tow, when to celebrate at a local diner, since Breadstix would probably be bursting with other graduates. Blaine and Kurt were inseparable, happy that no cameras were around to watch their movements on this night.

Blaine went to bed, knowing that just around the corner was his big move to California. After a long chat with both Burt and Kurt, and separately with his parents, it was worked out that Blaine would move in with Kurt in his apartment. Though they realized that if the media caught on, they would definitely have more rumors circulating about the nature of their relationship, they didn't care. They weren't in the physical side of their relationship quite yet, mostly because they were never in the same state long enough to really explore or commit to such things, but Blaine and Kurt had spoken about it and both knew it was a matter of time.

Blaine loved Kurt - that's all he needed to know - and he wanted to keep his promise and wake up to him every morning.

One week after graduation, Blaine packed up his entire wardrobe, odds and ends and everything that wasn't furniture. Most of it would be shipped to California, save for two suitcases he was taking on the plane. He said goodbye to his parents that morning, promising to call at least once a week and let them know what was going on and not to have them have to find out from the television or something crazy, then was picked up by Kurt and driven to his house.

At the Hummel's house was everyone from glee, including Mr. Shuester, Mrs. Pilsbury and Brad. There were a round of emotional and tearful goodbyes and tight hugs. Even Brad seemed sad to see him go, though he still didn't say anything. Despite having piano lessons twice a week for the last semester, Brad was still as silent as always - but he was a friend.

All of the girls cried when the hugged Blaine good-bye, Tina, Sugar and Rachel the most. Mercedes was going to be joining him in LA in a few weeks, as a backup singer at a record label to provide vocals. She was going to crash at Kurt's place until she found an apartment of her own, which Blaine was excited about. He'd never spent much time with her and Kurt seemed excited about shopping with the girl.

"You guys take care of yourself," Burt finally said, hugging both of them just as tight. "And take care of each other."

Kurt and Blaine took a taxi to the airport after the goodbyes, holding hands up until they had to get out. There were no cameras on this end, but when they landed at LAX, there were more than enough. They kept a respectful distance from one another as they made their way to the car, smiling to the cameras as they went.

"Welcome to your new life," said Kurt once they were in the car and on their way to their apartment. He bumped his shoulder and pressed up against his side.

"I couldn't be happier to be here," said Blaine.

Fic: Lost and Found

Kid!Klaine
Title: Lost and Found
Word count: 3,200+
Rating: G
Summary
: Kurt finds the camera on the subway one morning, surprised to see photos of a handsome man holding a white board with words on it. This was a prompt requested by amazinglybelle - who asked for Kurt finding a camera with this on it (but of Blaine, of course!) Check out that post - it's hilarious!

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Kurt pushed his way pass the other New York commuters as he usually did, eyes straight ahead and hands buried deep in his coat pockets. He tapped his foot impatiently when waiting for the train to show up, though it wasn't late and neither was he (it was a nervous habit he picked up when he'd first moved to the city three years ago) and then walked onto the train when it arrived. He was happy to see an empty chair near the door and grabbed it before a middle aged woman got any ideas.

He sighed as he sat down, able to sit and relax for another three stops. Then it was a hectic day at work - though Kurt relished and loved it. Though the fashion world wasn't where Kurt Hummel had imagined himself his senior year of high school, it was where he was now and it was the best decision he had ever made with his life.

Kurt sat up a bit straighter on the seat and in the process, felt his hip bump against something solid. He looked down, surprised to see a sleek black camera sandwiched between his hip and the chair. Kurt looked around, but no one was looking - New Yorkers minded their own business for the most part on subways, of course. He looked to the person beside him, a little old man reading a newspaper. It obviously wasn't his camera.

Kurt picked up the camera and examined it. It was a pretty high end camera, one a photographer of some type would use. Kurt thought for a few moments what to do with it - should he leave it? But it was expensive. Someone could just grab it and sell it or something. He could stop off and turn it into an office here at the subway, maybe. He didn't really have time for that, but in the back of his head Kurt heard his father, telling him to do the right thing and turn in a gold watch he had found at 8 years old in the park.

Kurt continued to turn the camera over in his hand. The train made a stop but Kurt was used to the sudden stop and subtly moved his body with the motion. Curiosity got the better of him as he was deciding what to do with the camera and he found the power button - bracing himself for any type of inappropriate photos he may find.

Instead the first photo on the preview display was one of central park. Kurt clicked the forward arrow button, going to the next photo. It was still in central park, but this one was of an older couple sitting on a bench and holding hands. It was pretty good photography from the looks of it, though it was a copy that hadn't undergone the magic of photoshop yet. Being in the fashion industry, Kurt knew about that quite well.

Interest piqued, Kurt continued to look through the photos. There were a few more of the park, then a few of the street, the shutter slowed down drastically. It appeared to be just before dawn in the photos, up until the sun rose (maybe today?) There were a handful of photos that were focus on people and others were of the New York lifestyle. It was rather interesting, Kurt thought.

Then Kurt clicked the next button, going from a photo of a business man holding a bagel to a man in a completely different location holding a white dry erase board with the word "Hello" on it.

Kurt looked at it for a long moment in surprise. It was a man around his own age, perhaps, with dark hair that was gelled back in a stylish manner. He had a quiet, carefree smile on his face and was staring right at the camera. From what Kurt could see (that wasn't hidden behind the white board) he was wearing a light pink shirt with a black and white bowtie.

Kurt clicked the next button, even more surprised to see the same man, same white board, with a different message:

"You must have found my camera!"

Kurt almost jumped in surprise. He looked up once more, surveying everyone around him. Nothing was out of the ordinary, of course. Why would it be?

He looked back down and hesitantly clicked the next button.

The man's facial expression changed with the white board's writing. "Thank you."

A small smile curved onto Kurt's face. Next button.

An overly exaggerated angry face was on the man's face now and the white board read: "Unless you stole it."

Kurt laughed out loud at that, probably earning a few strange looks. But this was New York City - people had seen worse and crazier on the subway. Kurt continued to look through these pictures, sensing a trend.

"But I'll assume you just found it."

Kurt rolled his eyes and continued, noting again the nice smile on the man's face.

The next expression had his eyes looking off to the side. "I probably left it somewhere really dumb."

You got that right, thought Kurt.

"Like on a train."

Kurt snorted at this photo. Well, he got that right as well. The man was probably always losing things - no wonder he made this safety precaution on his camera.

"Or at the post office."

"Or in my dog."

Kurt laughed again - the man's face looked stupidly dreamy, if that made sense.

The next photo the man was bent over slightly in an exaggerated laugh. His eyes were squinty and his teeth were perfectly straight. "Well, probably not in my dog." Kurt rolled his eyes.

The next photo his eyes were completely closed and he was laughing even more by the looks of it - "I don't even have a dog."

"Oh my god," whispered Kurt under his breath. This man - he was ridiculous.

In the photo after this the white board was completely blank and the man had a straight face, eyes wide, as he looked at the camera.

Kurt went to the next photo, this of the man holding out one arm and looking thankful. "Anyway, thanks for finding it."

"We had such a good time, my camera and I." The man in this photo was looking to the other side of the frame thoughtfully.

"One time we took a photo of me in the bath."

"Seriously?" whispered Kurt, reaching up to cover his mouth. He pushed the next photo and - well, almost dropped it.

This was of a bathroom, the man inside the bathtub (only one bare shoulder was visible, however) and a shower cap and rubber duck in frame. Kurt's eyes widened and he quickly changed it, not wanting to get caught looking at it for too long.

The man's face was scrunched up the board reading: "Sorry. I don't know why I showed you that."

You wanted to kill me, thought Kurt.

"Anyway. Can you email me at Blaine-Anderson so I can get my camera back?"

"I will be relieved to have it back."

The man - Blaine? - had a kind smile on his face as he continued to look at the camera.

"And I will probably hug you out of gratefulness."

The next photo, one hand was out and he had a cautionary expression. "Unless you have personal issues."

Kurt snorted - god, was this guy for real?

"Or you're remembering my bath photo."

Apparently, he was. God, that sort of made Kurt want to hug him more - was that weird?

"In which case I will nod graciously at you from a respectable distance."

"Ok. Go email me now."

The next photo was of the man (Blaine? - it had to be, right?) pointing to one side of the frame. "And I will go and wait by my computer for your email."

Kurt clicked the next button, but came to the beginning of the photos. He tried not to feel too disappointed. He went back to the photo with the email address quickly, then looked around. His stop was soon. He'd probably have to wait and email him at the office. So Kurt carried the camera off the train and decided against going to turn it in - after all, he knew how to contact the owner now.

And if that owner had the cutest smile Kurt had ever seen and he would get to see it in person - well, that was just a new bonus.

0 0 0 0

Kurt was pretty much busy from the moment he walked in until just before lunch. He was in the creative design second of the fashion company now - he had started out as a intern almost two years ago now, just after his first year at design school - and had risen pretty quickly through the ladder. He knew if he did his part, he could really go somewhere in a few more years. But for now, he was very content with being able to throw ideas around a room to present to the designing heads and more often than not, help with sewing and construction.

Kurt finished the project he was working on a few minutes before lunch and slipped off to email "Blaine". He explained that he found it on the subway and was amused at his security persuasion. He typed on his iPhone as he was in line for lunch and sent it off quickly.

A few hours later, Kurt check back on a break and noticed he'd gotten a reply from Blaine.

"Oh wow! I'm so glad you found it. I noticed it was gone maybe an hour after I left the train and I thought I'd never see it again. Can we meet up later today and I can get it? There is this coffee place called Coffee+ - you heard of it? - Blaine"

Kurt replied, saying he did know the place (it was just a few blocks away actually) and said he got off work at 4:30 and would be there around 4:45.

An hour later, just after 4:30 Kurt check to see he had gotten a reply as well. Blaine said he would be there and thank you, once again, for finding his camera.

Kurt wasn't sure why he hurried to get to the coffee shop, clutching at the camera protectively as he went. He was just excited - maybe too much - to see the guy on the camera.

When Kurt walked in, he recognized Blaine instantly. He was standing in line, looking down at his phone before slipping it back into his pocket and looking up, surveying the room until his eyes landed on Kurt. Kurt went straight for Blaine and his eyes lit up as his eyes landed on his camera.

"Uh, hi, Blaine? I'm Kurt - I found your camera."

"Oh wow!" Blaine looked happier than a kid at receiving an ice cream cone. "Thank you so much!" Kurt handed the camera over and Blaine took it, his fingers sliding over the sleek device, almost gently. "God, Kurt, you have no idea how much you saved me. I work as a photographer at the newspaper for extra cash and if I had to buy a new camera - I don't know what I would have done."

Kurt smiled hesitantly, suddenly feeling very warm. "Well, my dad taught me to always return lost things - your photos made it easy. Can I just say - wow - that was. Well, unique. And hilarious."

"And effective," said Blaine smugly. "Obviously."

Kurt rolled his eyes and nodded. "Yes, certainly." Kurt looked down at his feet, then back to Blaine. "I - uh -"

"Let me buy you coffee!" said Blaine in a rush.

"What?"

"Buy you a coffee - it's the least I can do, really," said Blaine.

"Well…okay," said Kurt. The coffee would certainly be welcomed. He still had to go home and it was really chilly at night. Kurt settled into line beside Blaine, a small silence settling over them. "So -" said Kurt, trying to be smooth. "Do I get that hug or -"

Blaine burst into laughter - it sounded almost musical. He looked over to Kurt, eyes scrunched up and a multitude of laugh lines around his eyes. "If you don't have personal space issues, of course!" said Blaine.

"Oh I -" Kurt's eyes widened. "I mean, I don't, but - I was - uh."

"Kidding, I know," said Blaine. They stepped up to the register and Blaine smiled at the barista. "A medium drip for me, please, and for you?"

"Grande non fat mocha," recited Kurt.

Blaine paid and they stepped to the side to get their coffee. "Would you - uh, like to sit with me?" asked Blaine, looking nervous. "Unless you have something to go do - which I understand."

"No…I mean, nothing really but going home."

They went to a nearby table, sitting down. Kurt sipped at his coffee and watched Blaine, who was looking at his camera with a fond smile.

"You're quite good," said Kurt suddenly, making Blaine look up with a curious expression. "Your photos. I - well looked through them all, actually."

"Good thing I just cleared off most of my memory card," said Blaine wryly. "Or else you'd be looking through it for days. I only had the photos I took this morning on there - besides my security photos, obviously. Those are always there." Blaine smiled warmly at him, setting his camera down and picking up his coffee. "And thank you, by the way. I'm glad you liked them."

"So is that what you like to photograph - when you're not doing things for the paper, I assume?" asked Kurt. "Life on a city street or park?"

"I like taking photos of most everything," said Blaine. "People are the most interesting, I think. I mean, everyone is different and there are never-ending possibilities. It's staggering, really."

"Yeah, I guess so," said Kurt. He had never quite thought about it that way, but Blaine had a point.

"What do you do, Kurt?"

"Oh - I work at the fashion magazine down a few blocks," said Kurt. "I'm a designer. Well, junior designer and that's a bit of a beefed up term, but I can really do things if I keep to it."

"That's interesting," said Blaine, looking genuinely interested.

"It's never what I thought I'd be doing when I moved to New York," said Kurt with a laugh. "Even though I always loved fashion."

"What did you think you would do?"

"Performance - Broadway - all of it," said Kurt. "I still sing, but it's just a hobby now. Something I still love, but not a career. It's…strange, but it suits me fine. When I was in high school, it's all I wanted to do."

"Wow - same here," said Blaine. He laughed. "Just one of those people who come to New York with stars in their eyes and realizes that they're not as realistic as you think. I took a photography class my first year in school and loved it - switched my major the next year. I tried some auditions, and I did okay, but they mostly casted me for looks. Nothing I wanted to do was coming my way, so I decided against it."

"Wow - that's - noble, I guess," said Kurt. He couldn't get any roles when he first tried out for things. It wasn't "leading male material" - it was a phrase he'd heard often.

"I was doing something I cared for - it's strange, how your passions can change so quickly," said Blaine.

"Yeah. I mean - really, I was just happy to be out of Ohio," admitted Kurt. "Everything worked out from there."

"Whoa - Ohio?" asked Blaine, sitting up. "I'm from Westerville!"

"Wow. I'm from Lima," said Kurt with surprise. "That's - that's like, an hour or so away."

They stared at each other for a long moment, then burst out laughing. "Wow - small world," said Blaine, shaking his head with a fond smile. "Those were the days - I think my Glee club competed against a Lima school. Let's see, the New -"

"Directions! That's me! Well - I was part of them," said Kurt. "The Warblers, right? I think - no - you weren't the lead, were you?"

"Guilty," said Blaine, looking bashful.

"Wow." Kurt was surprised - Blaine had certainly grown up since then, of course. His hair was similar, though maybe a bit more carefree than Kurt remembered. "You were good."

"Thank you," Blaine said. "And well, I have to agree with your previous statement, about being out of Ohio - it's great to be out of a town and place that is vastly homophobic, isn't it?"

"Wait - what?"

"Oh god," Blaine looked mortified. "I'm sorry, I just assumed, didn't I. I don't mean that you like, look gay or anything, I just - I'm an ass."

"No, you're not. I mean, I am gay," said Kurt. "It's pretty obvious." Kurt paused. "Are you -"

"Yeah. I am."

Blaine and Kurt shared a look over their coffees and Kurt knew he understood. He grew up in a similar town to Lima. Maybe even a school where people hated him for who he was. They shared that background - it had made them who they were today.

"Funny how things work out," said Blaine quietly. "We could have met back in high school, yet here we are almost four years later, in a coffee shop in New York City - miles and miles away from our home towns, meeting because I'm an idiot and left my camera on the subway."

"Yeah," said Kurt. "Funny."

Kurt and Blaine finished their coffee a minute later and stood up awkwardly, not sure what else to say. They walked out of the coffee shop quietly, standing just outside the door and looking at each other.

"I guess - thanks again for finding my camera, Kurt," said Blaine. "I'm glad it was you."

"I - you're welcome," said Kurt, almost breathless.

Blaine looked like he wanted to say something - instead he turned and began to walk in the opposite direction Kurt had come from.

As he was walking away, camera at his side, Kurt remember something.

"Blaine!"

Blaine turned quicker than Kurt anticipated and Kurt ran over to catch up.

"You like taking photos of people?" asked Kurt, not able to keep his smile away.

"Yeah," said Blaine.

"I think I have a way for you to do that." Kurt pulled out a business card from his pocket and handed it to Blaine. On it was the name of the fashion magazine for Kurt's work, with email and phone numbers. "I remembered - there was talk the other day of needing a new photographer for a spread a future issue of the magazine. We're pretty big on getting both well name photographers, as well as discovering new ones," said Kurt pointedly.

"Kurt - are you saying -"

"Yes," said Kurt. "I am." Kurt grinned and reached over to put his hand on Blaine's arm. "I think I want to keep you around a bit longer."

"I think I might give you that hug now," said Blaine and before Kurt could connect the words - he was. The hug was enveloping and warm, with his chin tucked just on Blaine's shoulder.

Yes, thought Kurt, he could get used to these.

fin

Fic: Birthdays and Mini Golf

Kid!Klaine
Title: Birthdays and Mini Golf
Word Count: 4,700+
Rating: PG
Summary: Summer is almost over and it's Blaine's birthday - Kurt has a night planned to celebrate, leading to fun summertime shenanigans. Fluffy with a side of fluff. 


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The summer was quickly drawing to a close and Blaine was dreading it. Coming to an end was all the time he and Kurt could spend together, interrupted and not separated by miles. Soon, however, Kurt would be on his way to New York and Blaine would miss him. After NYADA's rejection, Kurt quickly bounced back and decided he would go to New York anyway and work until applying for schools in the Spring. It was better this way - he was still following his dream, just in a different way than he thought he would. Blaine was proud of him.

It didn't mean he'd miss him any less.

Since the summer was almost over, it meant something else: Blaine's birthday was even closer. He was turning 18, which was both strange and exciting. For weeks Kurt has been telling him that he had a "fantastic" time planned for him, which also made him excited and nervous.

Which is how Kurt ended up picking him up early the evening before his actual birthday (he'd be spending his actual birthday with his parents as soon as they were back in town tomorrow afternoon).

"I can't believe you haven't spilled what we're doing yet," said Blaine was Kurt lead him to his Navigator, opening the passenger door with a small bow. Blaine chuckled and pulled stepped inside, another nervous spike bubbling in his stomach. "You aren't usually the best at keeping secrets."

"What can I say?" asked Kurt. "I've gotten better. Besides, I wanted to really surprise you."

It was only ten minutes before they were pulling into the parking lot of the new Italian place in Westerville. "Because Breadstix is far too cliché," said Kurt dryly as Blaine looked over to him with a questioning expression. "And they sing to you on your birthday. I can't take that sort of embarrassment, even second hand."

There is a bit of a wait, but soon they are shown to a small booth by the hostess and begin to pour over their menus. "It's amazing here," said Blaine, looking around the room after a moment. The whole theme is very retro with old movies playing on the television screens and records on the walls. "Thanks for this, Kurt. It really was a surprise."

Kurt smiles over his menu, looking like he's trying to hold back laughter. "Oh it's sweet how you think this is the only part of your birthday surprise."

Blaine is about to open his mouth to ask what else Kurt has in mind when someone passes by the table, pausing for a moment. "I'll be right with you guys," said the waiter with a short nod before moving by them. Blaine's eyes follow him with surprise.

"Wow."

"What?" asked Kurt, looking up and following Blaine's gaze, looking over his shoulder in the process. "Oh."

"Holy arms, Batman," said Blaine under his breath, making Kurt snicker across from him. He turned back to the table and bit his lip.

"He's attractive," said Kurt quietly.

"That's an understatement."

The waiter came back a minute or so later, an easy smile on his face. "Hey guys. I'm Josh and I'll be your server. Can I get you anything to drink?"

"Just water," they said at the same time and he nodded, leaving and coming back within a few moments (Kurt and Blaine made eye contact and giggled as soon as he left like a pair of girls).

"Oops, I'm so sorry," said Josh as he sat down the waters. One of them had been tilted, some water falling on the floor and splashing on their legs. The cold water felt nice on Blaine's bare ankle and calf.

"It's just fine," said Blaine, biting his lip and looking over to Kurt, who had his hand in front of his mouth to keep from laughing. Josh had bent down, taking a rag and mopping up some of the water on the ground. He resisted the urge to stare too long and instead looked at Kurt.

They ordered and Josh, who was actually seemed quite nice as he exchanged the usual waiter-costumer banter with them, took their menus. "God, if they hired him just because he's attractive, they did a good job," said Kurt, his voice low.

"Oh, they so did," said Blaine. "And he knows it. He probably has tables of girls fawning over him all the time."

"Think of the tips," teased Kurt.

"You mean like the one we're going to end up giving him?" asked Blaine and they laughed together.

The rest of the night was spent playfully flirting, together, with the handsome waiter. If Josh realized that he was being flirted with and ogled by two gay men (who were actually together) he didn't seem to mind. "I can't decide if he's even gay or not," said Kurt once, near the end of their dinner. "He either is or he's just really, really comfortable with it all."

"No idea," said Blaine. "Either way, there is no way he's single."

"Duh."

After almost stuffing themselves with food - it was much better than Breadstix - they split a chocolate cookie sundae, which was absolutely devoured. Josh came and placed the check on the table, which Kurt grabbed before Blaine could reach for it.

"Don't tell anyone," said Josh playfully. "But I took off the sundae. I heard you mention a birthday, so it's on the house." Then he winked.

"Oh," said Kurt, dumbstruck for a moment. "Thank you so much."

"You boys have a great night," he said, clearing the rest of the plates from their table and walking away.

"So gay," said Blaine.

"That's what I'm choosing to believe anyway," he said as he pulled out his card. He left a healthy tip. "Now let us move on to phase 2 of your birthday surprise," he said as he stood, reaching out for Blaine's hand.

"Golf and Stuff? You brought us to Golf and Stuff."

Blaine looked at the sign in awe as Kurt turned into the parking lot. It had grown dark a while ago and the lot didn't seem to be that full at all, being both later and a Thursday night.

"I thought you might like it," said Kurt sheepishly as he parked. "Do you?"

"This is only the best night ever."

Kurt laughed and turned off the car. "Good. I got this package where we get three rides, a game of golf and four tokens for the game room. That way we can do a little bit of everything. I'm even prepared and wore comfortable jeans and a shirt in which I can move around with more ease."

"I'm still beating you at laser tag," said Blaine as he shut his door and walked to Kurt, arm coming around his waist.

"That might be true," said Kurt. "But it's your birthday, so I guess that's okay."

Inside they go up to the counter and get a green paper bracelet from a teenager working behind the counter. They look around the arcade, bright lights flashing and different tones and beeps coming in all directions. There are only a small handful of people around. Some little kids and another couple, a girl and a boy around their age laughing as they play a claw game.

"Let's go outside first," said Kurt. "Do the rides and then golf? After that we can use our four tokens in here."

"Laser tag first?" asked Blaine, reaching over to grab his hand as they walked outside.

"Of course."

There was only a group of about four kids in front of them, the youngest five or so and the eldest maybe eleven. Kurt could see a pair of parents sitting off to the side at the benches nearby. Blaine and Kurt leaned against the bars of the line, waiting for the party inside the laser tag room, a huge inflatable maze, to leave. They talked for a few minutes until they left, looking happy and breathless and putting their shoes back on after handing the laser guns to the attendant. The group in front of them went next. It was ten minutes later when they left and it was their turn.

The attendant told them to take off their shoes (this took Kurt a bit longer than Blaine, who stood barefoot, waiting with barely contained excitement for him) and then handed them the guns, instructing them how to use them.

"Always keep your fingers here, in front, on these metal circles," he said. "And obviously pull the trigger here and aim for the other guns' lights."

Blaine slipped inside the inflatable room first, slipping away with a flourish before Kurt could even completely get in. He looked around the almost completely dark room, only a few glow strips on the floors and flashing lights to light the way, and took off down one of the walkways. His eyes scanned as he held his gun close to his chest.

"Aha!"

Blaine came out of nowhere, the sound of his gun going off as it hit Kurt's. Kurt's own gun made a dying sound and a voice came from it softly, "you're hit!" and his yellow light turned to red.

Kurt cursed and dodged, too late, behind a wall. He waited a few seconds before his gun recharged and the yellow light returned. He looked around the corner, not seeing any sign of Blaine. He walked out cautiously, more alert this time.

Blaine appeared again and Kurt raised the gun, trying to hit Blaine's. He wasn't able to, his own gun dying once more. Blaine almost skipped away, laughing.

"Hey!" said Kurt, hoping the gun could recharge faster. He looked through small windows cut in a few "walls", trying to find him again. His gun recharged and he saw him, hiding in a corner. Kurt lifted it, trying to hit his gun, but the sound of one shot alerted Blaine and he turned, firing a few times and hitting Kurt's gun.

He smiled across the room, then ran down another hall.

"Why are you so good at this!" shouted Kurt, trying to run after him.

"Practice!" called Blaine. Kurt followed the sound as his gun came back to life. "And Cooper was way too good for a while. I had to keep up." He laughed and Kurt rounded the corner and they shot at each other before both of their guns went dead. Kurt exclaimed in success, ducking behind another wall.

Kurt lost track of Blaine for a while after his gun recharged. It was too quiet and he walked around, trying to spot him.

Then, quick as lightning, Blaine appeared at his side and pressed a kiss to Kurt's cheek. He started in surprise. Then Blaine took a step back, fired his gun at Kurt's, which died, and ran away.

"You play so dirty!" shouted Kurt in shock. "That's - Blaine Anderson! I can't believe you!"

"All's far in love and war," came Blaine's voice.

They ran around the room, firing off a few more shots and laughing until their guns died completely, saying "game over". They exited the room, breathless and holding on to each other. They handed over the guns and the attendant checked the scores, declaring Blaine the winner.

"Of course, he cheats!" said Kurt as they walked over to their shoes.

"Did not! I just couldn't resist," countered Blaine.

"Well come on, let's go over to the go carts next," said Kurt, pulling him by the wrist to the rounded track.

"So I can beat you at something again?" teased Blaine.

"Oh please," said Kurt. "It's so on."

Kurt and Blaine stepped into separate cars, buckling up and waiting for the attendant here to power up each car. Kurt's legs were a uncomfortably squeezed in the short car, but he made it work. As soon as the green light lit up in front of them, both of them were off.

Blaine pulled in front of Kurt at first, but Kurt was in front of the other two people on the track. Kurt could hear him laughing as he pulled in front and rounded the first turn. Once they had gone around the track once, Kurt began to get a feel for each turn. For example, during the second turn, you had to let off the gas a bit or you'd go out of control.

There was barely half a car's length in between them and halfway through the next lap Kurt was gaining on Blaine. Finally he pulled up closer to him, calling out his name. Blaine looked back, surprised, and Kurt took the opportunity in the third turn to pull up next to him and then slammed on the gas, passing him completely.

For the rest of the race Blaine kept trying to pass him, but soon Kurt pulled so far in front of him Blaine couldn't keep up. They pulled into the pit as soon as the red light on the track came on. Kurt was already out of his seat when Blaine pulled up with a pout.

"You passed me," he said.

"Yeah I did," laughed Kurt, reaching out his hand after Blaine had unbuckled his seat belt and helped him from the low car. "Your face."

"That's so rude," said Blaine, his pouting lips becoming more pronounced. "My car was totally defective."

Kurt laughed again, pulling him away from the track. "Yeah, sure it was," said Kurt dryly. "See, this is how you get when I win. It's adorable - almost."

"Let's go on the bumper boats next for our last ride," said Blaine finally, walking toward the large pool with inflatable boats.

"Let's see if you're better driving those than the go karts," teased Kurt.

Since the whole place was so empty anyway, there wasn't any wait for the bumper boats. Kurt climbed into a green one carefully and Blaine got into a nearby yellow boat. The attendant unchained them from the wall and sent them on their way.

There was a large controller between their legs in the boats with two levers and buttons. One you pushed down and turned to turn and spin the boat in whatever direction you wanted. The other, Kurt slowly realized, was a squirter.

It took both of them a few moments to figure out how to work the controls and they moved toward the pull and two a second of maze like waterways at the other end.

Blaine's boat suddenly bumped into Kurt's, causing him to move forward slightly. He looked back at Blaine, who had a wide grin on his face.

"I am going to get you so wet," he said.

"Don't you dare," said Kurt.

Then Blaine pushed the button on the lever for the squirter. A long stream of water went up in an arch and toward Kurt, just missing him. They were too close at the moment. Kurt began to try to angle his boat away from Blaine and, in the process, ran right into the line of fire.

"Oh my god!"

The slightly cold stream of water felt almost nice on the hot summer night, but was completely soaking the back of Kurt's shirt. Blaine laughed behind him and continued to go for him.

Kurt turned his boat, pushing his own squirter, nailing Blaine right on the side of the face. He spluttered in surprise, eyes closing. Kurt drove his boat into the maze and Blaine followed.

Both of them fought dirty in the ten minutes that followed. The stream of water could reach for quite a long time if you kept up with the target and by the end their faces and shirts were completely soaked. They pulled back into the dock after a buzzer sounded, clumsily getting to their feet and back on ground.

"I'm so wet, oh my god," said Kurt, feeling uncomfortable. "I can't believe you."

"You didn't say not to!" laughed Blaine, who had reached up to untie his bowtie and unbutton the top few buttons to hair it out. Drips of water pooled down his face and chest.

"It's stupid how much like a sexy commercial you look right now," groaned Kurt, looking away from Blaine, heat in his face rising.

"Oh yeah?" said Blaine, dropping his voice. Kurt reached out and playfully pushed him.

"Blaine! Public, family place!" he said. "Come on, let's go dry off some and then go play mini golf."

They slipped into the bathroom and dried off as much as they could before going back outside and picking up their putters and golf balls. Blaine frowned as he was handed a shorter putter than Kurt and then sent him a look. "Not a word," he said.

"No words here," said Kurt lightly.

They picked one of the two courses, the one with almost no one on it, and began.

"Just a warning," said Kurt, leaning down to put the golf ball in front of the first hole. "I don't think I've played this for over ten years. I'm probably pretty bad at it, so this might just be another game of laser tag."

"Aww, I'm sure you'll be fine." Kurt held his putter in front of him, putting it just behind the golf ball. Blaine hesitated for a moment and then stepped closer. "…although, if you want me to show you how to do your putting stance, I can totally do that."

Kurt bit his lip, trying not to smile too widely at how adorable and obvious Blaine was. "Yes, that would be nice."

Blaine's grin was huge as he sat his putter down and stepped up behind Kurt. His hips bumped against Kurt's ass and he tried not to make a sound, but the fact that they were this close and in public was actually very - exciting. Blaine's arms came around Kurt's front, reaching down gently to grasp Kurt's putter.

"Put your hands where mine are on the club," said Blaine, his breath tickling Kurt's neck and making him shiver. They were both still wet from the bumper boats and Kurt could feet the water from Blaine's shirt soaking through his back. Kurt did as Blaine said, his hands resting over Blaine's. "Now…part your legs a bit…"

Kurt couldn't hold back the laugh at that comment. "Really now?" he asked, voice low and suggestive.

"Yes." Blaine kissed the back of Kurt's neck. "Now does that feel comfortable?"

"It does," said Kurt.

"Okay, so pull it back just a bit - this one is a very easy hole so it doesn't need that much force. Okay, good - go."

Kurt and Blaine pulled the putter back just so and then pulled it back. The golf ball rolled forward, straight toward the hole - a hole in one.

"Yes!" they said together, springing apart and facing each other. "I knew you'd be good at this," said Blaine. He leaned forward and kissed Kurt's cheek.

"Your turn," said Kurt cheerfully.

Blaine also sunk a hole in one and they quickly moved to the next hole, holding hands because they could.

Kurt lined up the golf ball on his own this time. The second hole was just slightly more difficult. He judged the distance and gave it a good amount of force so it bounced off the side and went right into the hole. He jumped, a surge of pride running through him.

"And you thought you were bad at this," teased Blaine.

"Sush and golf!" laughed Kurt, walking to the side.

Blaine did a similar stance to Kurt and let the putter it the ball. It bounced a few times, falling short of the hole. Blaine frowned and walked across to the ball, sinking it in after the second try.

"Not bad," said Kurt cheerfully. "Come on - next hole."

The next one was, of course, a little bit harder. There was a sharp angle and around the hole was a raised mound. Kurt concentrated on this shot a bit longer and hit it quite close to the hole, though not getting over the mound. Blaine hit his own, but there wasn't enough power behind it and it didn't get past the first turn.

Kurt went again, giving it enough power to get over the mound and into the hole. Blaine had to hit it another three times - once to get it past the turn, then two more times to get into the hole, since the ball went over the mound and over on the other side.

"This one is so weird," said Kurt.

"Hmm," said Blaine as he leaned over to get the ball out of the hole. "I guess - you still got a hole in two."

"Luck," said Kurt as the moved to the next hole. This one had even more turns and an obstacle just in front of the hole. Kurt hit this ball in after three tries - while it took Blaine six.

"This is stupid," huffed Blaine. "You said you were bad!"

"I guess I didn't realize…." Kurt trailed off. "Are you like, mad?"

"No - I just didn't realized I sucked so bad," said Blaine as they neared the next hole. "This is embarrassing."

"Come on," said Kurt, bringing his arm around Blaine's waist. "This is just for fun. It doesn't matter how good or bad someone is. We're here together."

Blaine looked over at him with a soft smile. "Yeah. I guess. Come on, let's keep going."

The trend of Kurt being good at mini golf continued, as Blaine progressively got worse. He didn't mind as much anymore, however, as they talked and joked between swings and teased each other when they did a bad put. More than once Blaine gave up, reaching down and putting the ball into the hole. "I won!" he exclaimed, as if it wasn't "cheating."

"Yes, you did," said Kurt, rolling his eyes.

"I don't know why I'm so bad, though," said Blaine as he leaned up against his putter as Kurt got ready to put at hole 12.

"Well you're ridiculously good looking, sing like a dream and a ninja at laser tag," said Kurt after hitting the ball and getting it pretty close to the hole. "Maybe being good at mini golf, on top of all of that, is just too much to ask for."

"But you're ridiculously good looking, sing like an angel and are good at go karts and fashion - add golf on top of that and you are just too good," countered Blaine.

Kurt rolled his eyes. "Keeping score now?"

"Yes - we have to see if our talents even out, of course," said Blaine.

"Shut up and hit the ball, Blaine," said Kurt teasingly. He bumped Blaine with his hip and he stumbled forward, looking back with a mock glare. He sat the ball down and then stood parallel to it, getting into a stance.

A stance that was completely and utterly horrible. On purpose.

Blaine's feet were too far apart and pointed slightly inward. He held the putter too far down. He looked over at Kurt with a wide grin as Kurt laughed at him. To top it off, Blaine pushed his ass out too much, waving it in front of Kurt.

"Oh, nice stance. Real attractive," laughed Kurt.

"I thought so," said Blaine. He hit the ball, barely trying. It didn't move very much at all, not even making it over the small incline. "Nailed it!"

Kurt walked over, reaching down and smacking Blaine's ass lightly. Blaine jumped and turned around. Kurt winked. "Me too." Blaine grinned and grabbed Kurt's wrist as he turned to walk away, pulling him closer and bringing their lips together with a smack.

"Blaine," said Kurt, breathlessly pulling away after a moment. "What are you - we're in -"

"No one's around," whispered Blaine against his cheek. He pressed a few kisses down to his neck. "Everyone is on the other side of the course. It's dark. No one can see." He brought his lips back up to press another searching kiss against Kurt's. Kurt surrendered, bringing his arms down around Blaine's waist after he dropped his putter. His hands dipped lower, cupping Blaine's ass and pulling him closer, flush against each other.

"I think we should wrap up this game," said Kurt, his voice lower as he pulled away from Blaine again after a minute or so. "Get our tokens and then go back to your place. How does that sou-"

"Yes," said Blaine quickly. He pressed a quick kiss to Kurt's lips and reached down to get his fallen putter. He grabbed Kurt's as well, handing it to him with a dopey smile.

They by passed the next few holes, holding hands and skipping to the finale hole where they turned in their golf balls. Then they went back to the main building, turning in their putters and then going to the counter and showing the woman their wrist bands and getting the four tokens that came with the package.

"What do you want to do?" asked Kurt as they walked in the maze of games.

"Um…" Blaine looked around, eyes landing on a claw game. "Oh my god!" He ran toward the machine, wide childlike eyes as he stared into it, hands and nose against the glass. "Kurt. It's a stuffed giraffe - with bowties."

Kurt walked up behind him, looking into the game with mild surprise. It was actually a medium sized stuffed giraffe with not one, but three bowties tied around the long neck, each a different color: red, blue and yellow.

"That's actually adorable," said Kurt. He looked over to Blaine, who was still staring at it with wide eyes. "I'm going to win that for you. Scoot over a bit."

Blaine looked at him with an expression of pure joy and moved out of the way with excitement.

The giraffe wasn't deeply wedged under other stuffed animals, Kurt noted as he began to survey the toy and how he should go about trying to get it. It was in the center of the machine, on it's side and two legs under the other toys. Since the neck was so long, he could probably do it.

The game was two tokens for a turn so Kurt started, angling the claw and trying to get the toy. The first time it didn't move it at all, the claw not getting a good grip on the neck. Kurt went lower the next time, more toward the body and the end of the neck. This time it was lifted slightly, bringing the legs out from under the other toys, but ultimately fell from the claw. Kurt groaned.

"I'm going to get more tokens," said Kurt, grabbing his wallet and pulling out a few ones.

"You can use mine," said Blaine, holding out his hand with his tokens.

"Those are yours," said Kurt. "You can play something else - after I win this toy."

Kurt returned with another eight coins. Each try lifted the giraffe, just short of getting it into the drop. On the third try, with just another two coins left, the claw lifted the giraffe again and Kurt held his breath as it moved to the side of the machine, dropping into the hole.

"I did it!" he exclaimed. Blaine let out a "woo!" and brought his arms around Kurt, hugging him close with a laugh. Kurt reached into the game and pulled out the giraffe. He handed it to Blaine with a wide smile. "Happy birthday."

"Thank you, Kurt," said Blaine, handling the stuffed animal like it was a prized possession.

They moved on to another game, ski ball, and Blaine won about 20 tickets in all. He brought them up to the front and selected a blue plastic ring. He turned to Kurt and presented to him.

"You're a piece of work, Blaine Anderson," laughed Kurt as he held out his left hand. Blaine moved the small ring on Kurt's ring finger, leaning down to kiss his palm. "Come on," said Kurt, pulling Blaine toward the exit. When they were far away from the few people left in the room he leaned over as they walked to the parking lot, pressing his mouth against Blaine's ear. "I have to give you your other birthday present," he said in a low tone.

"I think I'm going to like it," said Blaine.

"Oh, you will."

Fic: Of Harps and Feathers

Kid!Klaine
Title: Of Harps and Feathers
Artist: Dinojay
Author: Chatterboxrose/PhantomofaRose
Rating: G//PG
Word Count: 14,600
Fic Summary: "Blaine's wings used to be a pure, snowy white when he was little, just like all other newborns...." Blaine has always hated his dark wings, because to most people, they reflect the color of his soul. Blaine gave up on trying to prove them wrong a long time ago. But everything changes when Kurt Hummel, with wings as white as a cloud on a calm summer’s day, walks into his life….
Link to Art: Follow me!  
AN: Since this fic is very music heavy, there is a ZIP file with all the music used in the fic, or used for inspiration. There is also some amazing album art drawn by Dinojay! Thanks to my beta Star55 and Jay for being such an amazing person to talk to about plot ideas! It was so great building the fic with you!


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Introduction

Blaine's wings used to be a pure, snowy white when he was little, just like all other newborns. He hadn't grown up enough for them to change color yet. That usually happened as a person reached puberty and settled into the color they could be forever.

There were of course the few people that changed their wings after that time in their life. That seemed to reflect the way a person was treated. Those people, more often than not, seemed to be criminals. People who did things so bad, it turned their soul, and by effect, their wings dark. Blaine remembered being told that if he saw a person with black wings to avoid them. Darker shades, not completely black, were okay - but to still be wary. The usual colors wings ran from where off-whites, to dark browns, and were as hair color in a lot of ways. It was only the extremes that were either revered, or feared.

When his brother, Cooper, got accepted to college and when Blaine was 8 years old - everything changed. Cooper's wings were beautiful. Slightly off white, but still strong and magnificent. That was the color you could get closest to white. White wings were... rare. So rare, but so beautiful. Many thought that those with white feathers were of pure heart and soul, and should be respected.

It was at this age that Blaine realized that Cooper was his parent's favorite. They cooed over Cooper's acceptance, all the things he was going to do once he was in college, as Blaine stood in the doorway of the living room, holding his favorite toy doll and frowning. That day, it hit Blaine, and that was the day his wings turned from stark white, to a dull egg color.

His parents merely thought that his wings had settled. The youngest that usually happened was around seven anyway, all the way up to 16. They were happy that it happened, and that his wings were such a nice color. Almost as close to white as his brother's.

It didn't stop there.

When Blaine was around 12, he began to realize that he was gay. Since his brother had gone on to be successful in school, landing many commercials since graduating, he wasn't exactly confident. Because of this, his wings were smaller than all the other boys in his class. He got teased because of the way they wilted toward the floor. Being gay, Blaine knew, would make it all worse.

Which it did.

When his parents found out, looking down at him with looks of disappointment and in his father's case, subtle disgust, Blaine felt smaller than ever before.

That day his wings turn a dingy brown, much to his parent's shock. Wings didn't change, after the first time, and it had been years since his wings had changed color. It became clear that he was one of the rare: people whose wings changed according to their treatment, their heart, their soul.

Color Changers were usually associated only with the type of people that did something so wrong; it changed their insides, so the outside needed to be reflected too. It's not to say all criminals' wings changed colors, or if you were a Color Changer you were a criminal. It was a stigma that was hard to get rid of, however.

Blaine - he hadn't done anything wrong. He was just treated wrongly. That didn't matter. People who knew his wings had changed saw him as a Color Changer - a pariah. People at school saw this, hated him for his dirty wings and for being gay. Even when he had transferred to Dalton, after being beaten after his Sadie Hawkins dance, one of his wings broken and in a sling, it doesn't make it any better. People at Dalton, they don't bully, but they still look at him like he's less because of his darker wings and the rumors that they had changed before he transferred. There is something off about him. He wanted to join the Warblers when he started attending the school, he wanted to sing, but they are all about uniformity. They all have wings that were light tawny, the most normal of wing colors.

His would stick out too much.

Blaine gets through school, somehow, goes to college to get his pre-law degree. It's something he knows his father will approve up, and he does. He still looks at his wings, too dark, but his father approves of what he's doing. Maybe if his wings change in one way, they can do it another way as well.

It's when he's two years outside of law school when the final change happens.

He's young in the world of law. He takes the cases at the firm he can get. He ends up having to defend a man who sexually assaulted his step-daughter.

He's guilty and Blaine knows it, even though his wings are a normal color. Even with that horrible act, he just isn't a Color Changer, and keeps the color he's had since he was a teen - a light brown that isn't suspicious in the least.

Blaine gets him off with only a year of community service.

That's the day that Blaine's wings finally turn the color they are now: black as night, shiny and deadly.

When it had happened, Blaine was at a loss. Why were his wings one of the rarest colors: dark black, only associated with people who had dark souls? Blaine was a good person. He didn't want to kill, or hurt, or wrong people. He knew that. So why was he cursed with this color that made little boys and girls, holding on to their mothers' hands stare at him as they passed by, wide eyed and scared, their own white wings fluttering nervously? It wasn't fair.

Since then, his wings have grown into himself. He's learned how to make them look healthy, standing up erect and proud, though they are the dark color that makes people on the street do a double take. Lately, he knows what people expect when they have to talk to him. They expect him to be a horrible person. Sometimes, Blaine gives them what they want. He pretends he's proud of the color, of who he is - a no funny business type of lawyer, who will get things done.

When he's not trying, though, they fall and kiss the ground, dragging around his carpet when he's home alone and doesn't want to keep the charade up. Blaine is tired of it all. He's tired of being looked down on everyday of his life. Even his parents don't really like him. His successful job as a lawyer doesn't erase the fact that he has black wings.

As Blaine disappears into his apartment, his only safe place, he sits back on his chair, strumming his guitar absently and wonders: what's the point?

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For most of Kurt's life, he had resented the color of his wings.

As his peers' wings changed colors they arrived to school the next day, wings held up high and proud as they showed off the new color. It was a sign of growing up, shedding the white color of childhood and embracing the new.

Kurt's wings never changed.

He still had his white wings when he entered high school, the only one in his class. While white wings were revered in usual society, in high school it was a different story. His classmates were jealous that he had the beautiful white wings that they had lost. They were symbols of purity and a kind soul. They should have loved him.

But they were attached to the gay kid. The freak. No one loved his wings or him as a person.

While the other members of Glee club, which he joined during school, had slushies thrown at their faces, Kurt's were aimed for his wings. The cold didn't sting as much, but the reds and blues of the dye stained his wings and made his feathers clump together for days. It was an effort to make his wings dirty, because they should "reflect who he was".

Kurt believed it for so long. His wings were never held high in high school. They were wilted and low to the ground as he tried to hide them as best he could. He woke up everyday, wishing they had changed in his sleep.

They never did.

Kurt accepted this at some point. He got out of high school and finally went to chase his dreams in his favorite place: New York City. There, Kurt accepted himself. There, he let held his wings high. People in the city either didn't care about the color of his wings, or complimented him on the beautiful coloring.

Things are so much different for Kurt now. But he still remembers being alone in his room during high school, curled up on his bed and wondering: what's the point?

Part 1

Blaine pushed the case file away from him with a loud groan. He reached up to rub his hand over his face, shoulders and wings sagging down in exhaustion. He looked up after a few moments, eyes moving to the clock on his desk. It's 11:24 at night and Blaine can't even remember eating dinner, he's been at this for so long.

He stood after a few more minutes of staring down blankly at the sheets of paper, not seeing the words any more, and stretches. He cracks his neck, stretches his arms toward the ceiling, and extends his wings behind him, ruffling the feathers slightly. He trudges out of his home office and out to the living room, toward the kitchen. Blaine pours himself some cereal and uses the last of his milk. He eats standing in the kitchen, leaning up against the counter.

After he's done he sets the bowl and spoon in the sink before he comes back out to the living room. He pauses, looking around at the instruments. His fingers are itching to play something right now - anything - but what to play?

Blaine finally reaches for his acoustic guitar, going over to sit on the bench in front of the piano, the guitar settling in his hands like its second home. It's late, but he doesn't have to worry about waking his neighbors because of the sound proofing he's done over the years.

For a few minutes, he just strokes the strings and lets his breathing even out. Then he starts playing the melody of a song he had been listening to the other day. He lets the words wash over him, his eyes flutter shut.

(You say) You can't have the world see you like this

And you can't stay for more than a night

That you'll be close where you are and that I will be missed

But still I can't turn out the lights

I don't wanna live in limbo baby

I don't want to come home to and empty bed

Said I'm so tired of the quiet baby

And I'm too young to play dead

So c'mon summer go out with grace

Lay down for a season and down for the rain

He finishes the song and slumps down. He's calmer now, at least. He can't believe the case he has now, how much work there is to put into it because in all honesty, the person he is defending is guilty. It will take some work to get him off.

Blaine doesn't want to think about that.

After playing a few more songs, he knows it's getting late, so he puts the guitar away and changes for bed, crawling in and sighing into the sheets.

The next morning Blaine wakes up and goes to work, thankful that it's Friday. He lines up witnesses and does more research on his case throughout the day and takes a short lunch, then lets himself go home early. He forgoes his tie and suit as soon as he gets home and changes into high waters and a grey cashmere sweater. He lets himself relax, settling onto the couch to log into the music message board he frequents.

His eyes settle on a thread called "Music Stores in NYC". He clicks on it, since he always likes to find new places for buying his music. Most of the recommendations he's already been to, and they are all okay. There is one place he doesn't recognize or been to: Gabriel's Harp: Music Emporium, which the poster says is a music and coffee shop.

Blaine types the address into his phone and is surprised that it's only about a twenty minute walk from where he lives. He looks over at the clock - it's just around dinner time now, and he has absolutely nothing in his apartment to eat, unless he wants dry cereal. After a few minutes of deliberating, he decides that he can check out the music and get something to eat on the way back.

The walk is as eventful as it always is - people's eyes either stay on him, wide and surprised, or look through him, wanting him to not exist. Blaine walks with his hands in his pockets, sending a rude look to the people who stare and almost happy when they quicken their paces to move by him.

He finds Gabriel's Harp easily. It's quaint, a small little shop, but tastefully decorated from what Blaine can see from the street. When he goes in, it does feel homey and has a good atmosphere.

There isn't anyone in the shop itself right now. It is a strange time to shop for music, Blaine guesses as he walks over to the joint coffee shop to get his usual.

"Medium drip," he ordered. The barista, who looks like a high school student, looked up. Her bright smile faded as soon as her eyes take in Blaine's wings. Her own, a light brown color, grew stiff behind her. She averted her eyes quickly and her hands shake as she types in the order and tells him the price. Blaine rolls his eyes as he grabbed the coffee from her and walked over to another counter for sweetener.

After taking a few sips, and deciding that it's probably the best coffee he's had for a long time, Blaine starts to explore the music selections. It seems like Gabriel's Harp has a bit of everything - CDs, tapes, vinyl, sheet music and even instruments. It's all well organized as well, and Blaine quickly begins to find things he's never even heard of before.

He also finds some vinyl Beatles records that are in near perfect condition. He looks down at the record in his hand, a little taken a back. He has his own, of course, but not one like this.

"Do you need some help, sir?"

Blaine almost doesn't turn around. He never is asked questions like this when in a store, or anywhere, really, so it doesn't quite hit him that the question is for him. The voice is so close, however, he shifts his eyes over and sees another man standing next to him, an easy smile on his face. Blaine blinks at him in confusion; he's staring at Blaine.

"Me?" he asked, voice portraying how confused he is. The man nods. Blaine is stumped when his eyes never seem to flicker to Blaine's wings. Usually in conversations, the eyes of the person he's speaking to drift over to the wings often, eying them warily, even unconsciously. This man's clear blue eyes, however, stay connected to Blaine's, completely unwavering.

It's Blaine's turn to look just beyond the man's head, to the large pair of wings, held high and proud.

They're a stark, pure white.

Blaine can't even remember seeing an adult with pure white wings. Children, of course, all had white wings, but as they grew older they always changed and settled to the color they would sport the rest of their life (or in Blaine's case, change freakishly). To have the childish, pure, mark of white wings as an adult, however, was just as rare as Color Changing.

Blaine looks back to the man's face, now, knowing that he hates the way people gawk at his rare wing color. It's just strange for him, to be the one staring instead of the one being stared at.

"I don't think so," said Blaine finally. He's never really needed the help of others - not like they would offer it anyway - so he shrugs.

"Well, I hope you find everything alright," said the man. Then he nodded down at the Beatles record. "That's my favorite, you know."

A small smile comes across the man's face and it's rather beautiful. Blaine actually smiles back. "It's my favorite, as well," he said.

"Well, you have excellent taste," said the man before turning and walking away. Blaine notices he walks over to another music section to organize it.

Blaine ends up buying the vinyl and a few other pieces of sheet music that look interesting. The person at the register is the same as the barista, but Blaine doesn't say anything. His eyes keep going back to the man he'd talk to and his white wings.

Blaine gets home and puts on the Beatles record, popping open his Chinese take out box and collapsing on the couch to eat. Throughout the night, he can't stop thinking about the man and his wings. He can't help but think - the two of them are the complete opposite, like day and night.

0 0 0 0

Even though the next day is Saturday, Blaine can't really sleep in much. He wakes up and plays the piano for about an hour before he lets his thoughts go back to the man at Gabriel's Harp. As he thinks about that, he remembers the amazing coffee as well. Both win out and Blaine finds himself walking back to the coffee and music shop within the next hour.

It's busy this time. A few patrons look at him when he enters, wide eye gawks that Blaine finds himself used to. He gets his medium drip again and finds an empty table. People are beginning to filter out. He's not sure if it's because of him, or because it's getting later in the morning.

Blaine spots the man again from across the room. He's leaning over a CD display, organizing them and making it more eye catching. Now that Blaine isn't so taken aback by the color of his wings (still as beautiful as they were yesterday) he takes in the rest of him.

The man is strikingly beautiful. It would be one thing if he was just plain looking - the beauty and unusual color of his wings would make him beautiful as it is. But really, he's tall and muscular, face all smooth angles. Blaine remembers the clear blue eyes from yesterday and can't believe this man has been so lucky. Not only this but, every time he leans down to the bottom shelf, the jeans he has on (already tight) stretch across his legs and ass and Blaine follows him with his eyes.

The man's eyes catch his a few times. He nods politely the first time. He must remember Blaine from yesterday, which he isn't surprised about. Blaine is hard to forget, not that he's that remarkable. The next few times when his eyes lock with Blaine's, he looks flustered, then increasingly annoyed.

There are only a few people milling around the music store when he finally walks over to Blaine. It takes Blaine off guard and he sits up as he nears.

"Hello there," said Blaine, his voice flirty, an easy grin on his face.

"May I ask why you find it necessary to leer in my direction?" the man asked, staring down at Blaine with his arms crossed over his chest.

Blaine is taken aback for a moment. Honestly, he really hadn't thought he was leering, but he wouldn't be surprised if he was.

That's the thing about his wings. People expect him to be at his worse so mostly, he is. He's rude and too flirty and generally doesn't care about being nice to others - they aren't nice to him. They don't expect him to be. It's the wings, Blaine knows. Besides that, people don't call him out on his leering, or admittedly lousy attitude, because they expect it. This man, however…

"What can I say," Blaine said before he can stop himself and slipping into the bad attitude he usually operates under. "You look good bent over putting away CDs."

The man's face flushes and his wings flutter slightly in indignation and Blaine silently congratulates himself for getting a rise out of the other man. He looks beautiful, flushed like that, and his eyes come back to the wings.

"Oh I see, you think you're hot stuff, don't you?" asked the man, leaning onto the table.

Blaine smirked up at the man, holding his chin high. "Well, you know what they say about the size of a man's wings." He raises his wings from the ground, parting them just a bit to show their size. The man's eyes drift to the wing span and a curious look crosses his eyes for just a moment before shifting neutral. He looks back to Blaine, looking about ready to rip him a new one, when suddenly, he pauses.

After a long moment, in which Blaine feels like he's being looked through, a small smile appears on the man's face.

"You don't fool me," he said, looking satisfied.

"Excuse me?"

"You can act like your wings all you want, mister," said the man. "But that's all it is - an act. You can't be this much of an asshole, because yesterday, I got the vibe you were actually a nice guy. Which makes me think: why the sudden change?"

Blaine glares up at the man, pushes his chair out and stands, slapping his palms onto the table. The barista, the only person in the store close enough to see the exchange, jumps and looks at the two of them like a tennis match. "Oh you know," said Blaine viciously. "I thought, since I change my wing color, might as well change my personality, too."

The man's expression softens. "A Color Changer?" he whispered.

"Feel free to kick me out of your establishment if it frightens you," sneered Blaine.

"It doesn't frighten me," said the man, his voice quiet. "Your attitude, however, annoys the hell out of me."

"Glad to hear it," said Blaine.

"If you would act like a normal person," said the man. "Maybe people would actually want to get to know you, ever thought of that?"

"You think anyone actually wants to get to know me with these wings, ever think of that?" said Blaine, a sarcastic edge to his tone. He's never quite talked about his wings so bluntly like this - confronted the elephant in the room, so to speak.

"Ever think that you're not the only one that had a hard time because of his wings?" said the man, his voice growing higher.

Blaine is opening his mouth to respond when suddenly, he can't think of a thing to say. His eyes drift to the man's wings, tense and raised behind him in the midst of their argument, and realizes that with wings like that, yeah, he hasn't had the easiest time either. While white wings are treasured, they are still rare. This man is probably looked at like a freak as well, though perhaps people like him more. Would trust him, at least.

Blaine deflates, his wings beginning to drop behind him. His eyes dart away from the man's and he pushes himself away from the table.

"Yeah," he said. "Yeah," Blaine repeated, not sure what to say. The man looks surprised that something he said got through. "I just -" His throat closes. He can't do this. He turns and leaves Gabriel's Harp, leaving the man staring after him.

Blaine plays his instruments around his apartment all weekend. He finds that, as he grows more stressed, he gravitates toward them more. He doesn't even touch his case reports all weekend and hates it when he has to return to work on Monday.

As he's playing his music, he replays the conversation he had with the man over and over again.

Hello heart you're a bumbling mess,

You beat and beat right out of my chest.

And conversations that don't exist

between my brain and all these passages

when all I want to be

is the hard-hearted man you'll never see again.

Blaine feels like an idiot, as he thinks about it more. Honestly, the conversation he had with this man, whoever he is, is the longest non work related conversation he's had in, well, Blaine can't even remember. And everything he had said is true and he'd been honest about how he didn't like Blaine's attitude. Blaine hasn't had that kind of honesty in his life before.

Oh my skin what a mess you're in,

but it's hard to know where to begin.

In 20 years you've changed three times,

I can't afford to lose this life tonight.

Then there was a part that stuck out the Blaine: he had said he wasn't frightened by the fact that Blaine is a Color Changer. He'd been surprised, by the looks of it, but not frightened. His eyes held the kind of honesty and sincerity that Blaine expected from someone with his wings.

Hello bones so skinny and frail,

which move so slow and taste so stale.

Blaine stops playing, head falling onto the guitar with a sigh.

This, in the end, is what leads Blaine back to Gabriel's Harp. He only hopes that the man is working.

He is.

He's on the floor of the music store as usual. He can't quite bring himself to go straight to him, however, so he goes up to order a coffee. As he does, he can feel eyes on him. When Blaine turns, he sees the man looking at him. When their eyes connect, Blaine motions for him to come toward him.

They both sit at a table without saying anything. The man looks standoffish, which Blaine can understand. He sighs and looks at the man.

"I'm sorry - about the other day."

This grabs the man's attention and he looks up, mildly surprised.

"Yeah, I'm shocked too," said Blaine. He shakes his head. "Look, I'm sort of an asshole. I don't know how to be anything else but that sometimes. It's either - that or nothing when I'm talking to other people."

"Why?"

That's a question that Blaine doesn't expect. He doesn't get it often at all, not personally.

"People expect it from me," Blaine finally answered, after getting over the shock of it. "I wasn't a horrible person. That's not why they changed." Blaine's wings twitch behind him and the man's eyes go to them for a moment. "But people think that's why, and so after a while, I got tired of trying to convince people I'm not the color they are. So I stopped and became what I wanted."

"Why not try being yourself?" asked the man, his voice soft.

"I - I don't think I know who that is."

"Well," said the man. "Let's start with a name, then." An easygoing smile came onto his face.

"My name is Blaine. Blaine Anderson," he said, still a little surprised by this entire interaction with a person he had only just met a few days ago - and argued with.

"Blaine," he said, as if testing out the word. "I'm Kurt Hummel."

"Hi," said Blaine, feeling strange. This - this hasn't happened to him.

"Just so you know, you're forgiven for the leering," said Kurt. "And acting like a jerk. Coming back here to apologize makes up for it. Just - maybe start being nice? Even if you don't know who you are, you could start with being nice. Maybe it would surprise you - people could change their minds about you."

Blaine laughed and shook his head. "That's - that's a nice sentiment." Kurt raised and eyebrow at him and he shrugged. "But, well, I guess I'll try. The nice thing." Blaine had a feeling that Kurt could ask him to jump and he would. "So, um, you said the other day that you haven't had it easy either. I just - your wings are beautiful," he said.

"Thank you," said Kurt. "I haven't always thought so. Neither did people in high school." He shrugged and Blaine understood.

"High school - it sucked. Being different, in anyway, caused problems," said Blaine.

"Exactly."

So began an easy conversation between the two. Kurt told Blaine all about his high school experiences. Of the jealousy and shame associated with his wings. How he'd learned to accept them eventually, away from high school and the toxic environment. "I tried the performing thing. And the singing thing, which I always loved in high school," finished Kurt, Blaine actually hanging on every word. "But it's like, if my more feminine features didn't hinder me getting roles, my wings just stood out too much." He shrugged.

"So you're working here now?" asked Blaine, gesturing around at the music shop.

A wicked smile came on Kurt's face. "I own here," he said, which took Blaine aback for a moment.

"You - own this place?"

"Yes," said Kurt, his chest swelling with pride. "I started it up. I just knew I loved music and coffee. I know so many people who do, and thought why not create a great place that had both? So I did. It's been going strong for about four years now."

"It's - it's great," said Blaine. "I've been to a lot of music stores and really, it is one of the best."

"Well thank you," said Kurt. "So, what's your story?"

Blaine's smile faltered and he looked down at his coffee cup, now empty. He picked it up and twirled it in his hands. "I - I don't think." He paused and looked away.

"Hey," said Kurt softly. "It's okay. Why don't you… what's some of your favorite music?" He said, switching the topic entirely.

Blaine looked back over to Kurt, a tentative smile coming back on his face. "Now Kurt, you just started a conversation you can't hope to finish. I hope you have some time."

"I'm the boss," said Kurt. "I have all the time in the world."

Kurt and Blaine sat there for around two hours talking about different musicians and bands. Blaine found he liked a little bit of everything. In high school, he'd been a big Top 40 fan, and while he still loved the popular stuff on the radio, since moving to New York he'd started to get into more unknowns as well. Kurt had a broad musical knowledge as well, mostly from the last few years of owning the shop. He tended to lean toward Broadway and musicals for his down time music enjoyment, as well as the classics.

Many times in their conversation, Blaine found himself pausing and coming away from it all - usually as he was watching Kurt talk passionately about Wicked or something similar - and be suddenly surprised. Really, he hadn't talked to someone like this for - forever. He spoke to the other people at his firm, to witnesses, to his family if he had to - but all of that was for a purpose. This, this whole conversation, it was just what it was and nothing more. It was nice.

Near the end of their conversation, Kurt look down at his watch and laughed. "Wow - look at us, talking the day away. How about we continue this conversation over a late lunch or something?"

Blaine's heart suddenly beat faster and his wings tightened behind him. "I - I don't think so," he muttered, looking down.

Kurt was quiet for a few moments before Blaine saw him nod out of the corner of his eye. "Yeah. I understand." He paused. "Why don't you join the Harp's mailing list? Like I said earlier, we have live performances here every week and anyone can come. Myself and other employees usually put together a music recommendation list on a weekly basis that I bet you'd be interested in."

"Yeah, okay," said Blaine. Kurt came back with a list of emails and Blaine signed up. After that, they sat together almost awkwardly, despite the lengthy conversation they had.

"I would ask you for your number," said Kurt suddenly. "Because I'd like to keep in touch. But something tells me that you don't want that yet." Blaine looked away - he wasn't wrong.

"I think that you're right," he said. "Why don't I just come here. It seems like you're almost always here, after all. I just -"

"I get it, Blaine," said Kurt. "Really." Blaine looked up to see the kind smile on Kurt's face. "I'll see you later?"

"Yeah," said Blaine, pushing himself up from the table. "I'll talk to you later, Kurt."

Blaine walked back to his apartment in a daze. By the time he had made it back to his living room, looking around at the piles of sheet music and instruments against walls, he wondered what had just happened.

"You seem to know a lot about music," said Kurt after getting over a small laughing fit. He leaned against his fist, turning sideways as he grinned across the table at Blaine. "Do you do it for a living or something?"

"I'm a lawyer actually," said Blaine. "I've just always liked music. I had music lessons as a kid. The usual." He shrugged and took a sip of his coffee.

It was the third day coming over to Gabriel's Harp after work to talk to Kurt for about an hour over a cup of coffee. He liked this time period the most. It was late enough where not many people were around to shop for music or get coffee. They were free to hang around each other and not get stared at.

"A lawyer?" asked Kurt, voice rising in awe. "Oh man, I didn't realize you were that smart." He laughed and shook his head. "That's fantastic, Blaine."

Blaine shrugged and lowered his eyes. "It's okay. I think what you do is fantastic, actually."

Kurt rolled his eyes. "Yeah, well. My family has a history of starting our own businesses, I guess. My dad started a car repair shop a few years after he married my mom. He was excited when I decided to open the Harp."

Blaine took a sip of his coffee, not sure what else to say. He couldn't image that his dad would be as supportive if Blaine had done the same as Kurt.

"Did you get the email last night?" asked Kurt.

"I did - I wanted to check out that one band someone recommended in it, actually," said Blaine.

"I'll get it for you," said Kurt. "Are you going to come to the music night tomorrow night?"

"I don't know," said Blaine, shifting in his chair. He'd looked at the email for a long time last night, weighing the pros and cons. Blaine hadn't gone to things like open mics and concerts for a while now. As a general rule, they weren't enjoyable for Blaine. His wings itched uncomfortably at the thought. "I think I'm going to be busy. I have this huge case I should be prepping for. Maybe some other time."

"I understand," said Kurt. "We get some really great bands and singers. A lot come every week and are really talented. You'd like them."

"I'll think about it, Kurt," said Blaine, is voice tight. Kurt looked at him for a long moment, his eyes searching. Kurt, though he hadn't known him for long, had a way of looking at Blaine that made him feel vulnerable and open. It was unnerving, but strangely enough, Blaine didn't hate it.

"Let's go get you that CD," Kurt finally said, standing up from the table.

0 0 0 0

It starts getting to the point where Blaine looks forward to going to Gabriel's Harp more than anything else in his day. It's not like he ever particularly liked his job before meeting Kurt, but lately, Blaine hasn't been caring about it as much as he used to. Spending time with Kurt, who barely ever looks at his wings and doesn't push him and doesn't see him as something evil - that's what matters, now.

Blaine finds that, the more time he spends with Kurt, the more things he notices about him: the way his eyes crinkle when he laughs - really laughs - and how the sound makes Blaine's heart skip. The way his wings flutter indignantly whenever Blaine playfully makes fun of Broadway or teases him for adding sugar to his non fat mocha. These things Blaine has never noticed about a person. He's never spent enough time with just one person to notice them, really.

There are some things about Blaine that don't change, even with all the time he spends with Kurt.

He keeps refusing to go to the music night at the Harp. He doesn't rightly know why anymore, besides the fact he is nervous about being out with Kurt in front of so many people. He knows Kurt is probably annoyed, because it's been a month and he pointedly ignores going to the Harp on music nights, but he still hasn't said anything.

"I have a proposition for you," said Kurt as soon as he sat down across from Blaine. Blaine looks up with a small smile.

"Yes?"

"I have tickets to a music festival," said Kurt. "And I was wondering if you wanted to go with me? They have a lot of different local musicians, as well as a few I think you'll like." Kurt slips a flyer across the table and Blaine looks down, ready to refuse, when he sees the names.

"Whoa."

"Exactly."

"I - they're one of my favorites."

"I know." Blaine looks up at Kurt, who looks rather proud of himself. "I got tickets even though I had to fight for them and I really, really want you to come with me. Please."

Blaine looks from Kurt, down to the flyer once more. It would be public, he knows, and even bigger than here at the Harp. But the band -

"I will," Blaine said finally, wondering where the sudden push came from.

"You - you will?" asked Kurt, noticeable surprised.

Blaine laughs and nods. "Don't think this is for you - it's for the music."

"Obviously - just - thank you," said Kurt. Suddenly he stood, leaning over to wrap his arms around Blaine in a hug. One hand came around to settle just under where his wing met is back, the other came to rest just on the top curve of the other wing, fingers settling into his feathers for a moment.

Blaine's heart pounded loudly in his ears, his whole body shivering with pleasure. He'd never been touched like this, a familiar hug he'd seen time and time again between loved ones and family. It was a sign of love and familiarity between two people - resting a hand on a wing like this. He'd never been a part of one, at least since his wings had changed.

It didn't last long before Kurt was pulling away, a wide smile on his face. He didn't seem to notice the effect he had on Blaine at all, which suited him fine.

"It's next weekend - I hope that's okay?"

"Yeah," said Blaine, his mouth dry. "Great."

Blaine thought about canceling on Kurt a few times in the next week. He kept on coming back to one thought, however: he really did want to go. With Kurt, most of all. So that's how Blaine found himself opening his apartment door to a smiling Kurt the next Saturday morning. He looked more than pleased to see Blaine, which made him shiver all the way to the tips of his wings.

"Let's go!" said Kurt, holding out his arm for Blaine. Blaine took it, linking their arms together as they made their way downstairs and toward the subway, speaking about the upcoming music festival with excitement. Blaine is pretty sure that's why he doesn't notice the stares at first. He's so caught up in watching Kurt speak with his free hand, gushing about the bands and musicians he's most looking forward to in the next few hours, he barely looks around at his surroundings.

It's not till they actually get to the music festival that he sees them.

Blaine is looking around at the sights and booths and the people. It's a mix of dark whites to dark browns as he takes in everyone by their wings, some so packed together that he can't even tell where each pair separate. Kurt is pointing somewhere in the distance and talking about how they have to remember to keep applying sunscreen throughout the day, or he will absolutely cook in this sun. That's when Blaine notices something is… off. Because he and Kurt - they aren't packed tightly together, up against others as they walk across the grassy field, whereas everyone else are like sardines.

Blaine looked away from Kurt and around him. There was a wide berth around he and Kurt, and as far as Blaine can see, wide eyed stares.

Some eyes are directed at his wings - those people are stiffed and more disgusted and shocked than anything. The usual stares, really. Others are looking at Kurt's wings and the way the light reflects on the shiny white texture. Those are looks of awe - none of disgust, but interest.

Others still, Blaine can see are looking at both of their wings, back and forth with looks of confusion.

Blaine looked over his shoulder and noticeed how their wings occasionally brush up against each other as they walk. He'd felt it for a while, since they'd left Blaine's apartment, but it wasn't something he'd stopped to think about until now. The way Blaine's wing pressed up against Kurt's, their feathers meshing together for a moment, the mix of white and black - that was what people were staring at.

" - Blaine, what's wrong?"

Blaine hadn't realized he had stopped walking. He looked away from their wings and at Kurt to his side, who looked at him with a look of concern.

"I just -" said Blaine, his voice quiet.

"I can't believe someone like him would associate with someone like - like that." Blaine looked over Kurt's shoulder at a young couple and winced. The woman was trying to be quiet and discrete, but both Kurt and Blaine could hear her. She was looking in their direction and, as Blaine locked eyes with her, she looked away.

"Blaine, don't listen to -" Kurt reached forward, resting one hand on his forearm.

"No!" said Blaine, pulling his arm away from Kurt. He tried to ignore the hurt expression on his face as soon as he did it. "No just - they're right. I knew - I knew this would happen."

"Blaine, please -"

"I knew that people would stare at me like I'm a freak and like you're an angel from heaven and what the hell is he doing with someone that looks like they fell from heaven itself? How can he associate with someone who is obviously so dark inside that his outside reflects what's one the inside?"

Blaine was breathing heavily and Kurt was looking at him with tears in his eyes. Blaine looked away - he didn't want to see this.

"I ruin everything, Kurt - I can't ruin you, too." Blaine turned and started for the exit, ignoring Kurt calling his name behind him.

(Part 2)

Fic: Of Harps and Feathers (Part 2)

Kid!Klaine
(Part 1)



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Blaine returns to his apartment and collapses on the couch with a sigh that seems to take away all the breath in his body. He looks down at the ground, noticing that one of his feathers is resting just under the coffee table. He reaches down and picks it up, twirling it between his thumb and index finger. The light in his apartment reflects dimly onto the texture and color of the feather.

Blaine lays there for hours and at some point drops the feather on the ground angrily and buries his face into the throw pillow. He feels stupid for what he said to Kurt, and ashamed, but at the same time it is all true. It's not like he lied - that's what people genuinely thought of him, after all.

It starts to grow dark in his apartment but he doesn't get up to turn on a light. Around that time there is a loud knock on his door. He jumps in surprise and looks over. He knows that no one would be here - except Kurt.

"Blaine! Blaine if you're in there please let me in!" comes Kurt's voice, slightly muffled from the other side. He knocks again, louder. "Blaine! Please - please don't do this," he said, tone pleading.

That's what finally pushes Blaine off the couch, his legs shaky as he walks over to the door to unlock and open it, revealing a slightly disheveled Kurt. "Oh thank god," he said at seeing Blaine. "I thought -" he paused. "Can I come in?"

"Yeah, sure," said Blaine, opening the door wider and stepping to the side to let him in. Once Kurt is walking into the living room, Blaine shuts the door and follows him nervously. He's never had anyone in his apartment before.

Kurt is looking around, not looking at Blaine. His eyes pause on the piles of sheet music, CDs and tapes he has laying around, then going to the instruments Blaine owns. Blaine walks over, wringing his hands. He's never had company over - he never bothers to really pick up after himself when it comes to his music. And having it all out like this, seen by someone else - it feels strange.

"You - you have more music than I imagined," said Kurt breathlessly. "Do you really play all of these?" he walks over to the violin case, open and resting on the huge dinning room table that Blaine never uses.

"I know how to play them all," said Blaine. "But I usually stick to guitar or piano the most. If I'm in the mood, I'll play something else."

"Oh." Kurt continues to look around his apartment for a few moments, finally coming over to the couch and sitting down slowly with a sigh. "Blaine, can we please - just talk about what happened?"

Blaine follows him without a work, sitting a safe distance away from him on the couch. Kurt slips over to him, one hand reaching over to rest on his knee.

"What did you want to say?" asked Blaine, his tone stiff as he looked away from Kurt.

"Blaine," said Kurt, his voice pleading and soft. "You need to stop believing the things you told me today. Just because people around you see only the color of your wings and judge you to be something, doesn't mean you are. You are a kind, amazing person, Blaine. I know that - you should know that, too." The grip of Kurt's hand on his knee tightened. "I know that your wings aren't a reflection of your character. They are a reflection of the way you have been treated by this world - you just happen to have it somewhere in your DNA where your wings changed to show that on the outside. It's not your fault. Further more, you have to realize something I realized a long time ago. Blaine - please look at me."

Blaine looked away from the coffee table, where his eyes were trained on the stack of Cds in front of him and to Kurt. His blue eyes shone with sincerity.

"You have to realize that the color of your wings don't make and define you. You would be who you were with or without that color. I had to figure that out the hard way, but now I know. You should too."

"But Kurt - I have done horrible things," said Blaine. "I've - I've defended people in court who should be hung by their thumbs - who should go to jail. And I got them off with warnings and minimum time. I - my wings are a reflection of that."

"Did you do the horrible things that they did?" asked Kurt, his voice firm.

"Well, no, but -"

"No. You didn't do anything wrong, Blaine. You've just - you've made mistakes. Everyone does," said Kurt. "You are perfect, Blaine."

Blaine's eyes closed as the word washed over him. Perfect. He'd never, in his life, heard that in association with him.

"And I don't care how many stares we get," said Kurt and Blaine opened his eyes to look at him once more. "I am your friend, Blaine, and I will be regardless of what people think, okay?"

Blaine began to nod. "Okay," he said, voice breaking.

"Good," said Kurt. Kurt leaned back, taking his hand away from his knee. "And you owe me big time for abandoning me at the festival and making me have a horrible time because I was worried about you, but I knew you needed time and I couldn't be sure if you were going to be coming back to your apartment or not."

Blaine smiled sadly at him. "Yeah, I do."

"So I think in return," said Kurt. "You need to sing me a song."

"Wait - what?" asked Blaine. Kurt was standing and looking around. He grabbed his acoustic guitar and brought it back to him. "Wait, no." He'd never played in front of anyone. At least since his middle school violin and piano concerts. And singing - he'd never sang in front of anyone.

"Yes," said Kurt. "Please? For me?"

The look on Kurt's face should be illegal. It could probably make people do horrible things if Kurt asked them to. He sighed loudly and put the guitar on his lap.

"Fine," he muttered. He looked down at the strings for a long moment. "I don't - I don't know what to play."

"Play… whatever you feel like right now," said Kurt softly.

Blaine turned back to his guitar, striking at a few strings for a moment. The melody of a song he liked to play a lot came into his head and he began to play, trying to ignore that someone was in the room with him.

They've clipped my wings again

Tore them apart and then

Left me

No use to fly away to

My yesterday

Of freedom

My eyes died back that day

Seeing the hurt I may have done

Beat me instead of them

Pain is my only zen

Of fun

I'll go where secrets are sold

Where roses unfold

I'll sleep as time goes by

Blaine looked up to Kurt for the first time, breath catching for a moment. Kurt looked at him with soft, gentle eyes, a look of both understanding and sympathy.

You still can't make me cry

You've pinned this butterfly

Down

My fire's burning out

Kill my flame without

A frown

And starving hurts the soul

When you're hungry for

Some love

So if I close my eyes

I can really fly

Above

Blaine finished the song, his whole body vibrating with nerves. Kurt's hands rose and he clapped for him, making Blaine's face feel warm.

"That was amazing, Blaine," said Kurt, breathless. "I didn't realize you had such an amazing voice. It was - fantastic."

"Thank you," said Blaine shyly. "You said you sang right? In school?"

Kurt smiled softly. "I did. I sing sometimes at the Harp as well."

"Maybe… maybe could sing something together?" asked Blaine. He wondered where this was coming from - just a few minutes ago he hadn't sang in front of anyone, now he wanted to sing with someone. But with Kurt, things were different.

"What did you have in mind?" he asked with a smile.

Blaine reached forward, grabbing a stack of sheet music. "I know most all of this," said Blaine. "If you see anything you like -"

After a few minutes, Kurt stopped looking through the stack of papers and smiled. "I love a lot of their music," he said, handing the papers to him and setting the others on the table once again. "This would be fun."

Blaine looked over it for a moment, a smile rising on his face. He nodded - he knew this one pretty well. "I'll take the first line?" he asked, setting the page between them.

"I like that idea."

Blaine started playing the song, much more upbeat than the other song, smiling hesitantly over his guitar at Kurt before he started to sing.

I don't like walking around this old and empty house

Then Kurt opened his mouth to sing - the sound coming out more beautiful than he had expected. And quite honestly, Blaine figured it would be beautiful, just like Kurt and his wings were.

So hold my hand, I'll walk with you my dear

The stairs creak as I sleep, it's keeping me awake

It's the house telling you to close your eyes

Some days I can't even trust myself

It's killing me to see you this way

Then they began to sing together and Blaine almost faltered in the melody - their voices, together, actually sounded amazing. Blaine looked at Kurt, who looked up from the page, his eyes sparkling with laughter.

'Cause though the truth may vary

This ship will carry

Our bodies safe to shore

They finished, looking over at each other with similar expressions of happiness and surprise.

"That was - that was great," said Blaine with a laugh. "Your voice is amazing, Kurt."

"Thank you," he said. "And you're right. It was - it was nice."

They smiled at each other for a few more moments before Kurt looked over to the clock, frowning. "I'm sorry - I promised I would be back at the Harp to close down. I just - I hope that's okay."

"No, it's important for you to be there," said Blaine. Kurt had stood and Blaine followed him, setting the guitar down on the couch.

"You could come," said Kurt hesitantly.

"I shouldn't," he said. "But - I'll be there tomorrow? Around nine. We can get our coffee and talk more."

"Okay," said Kurt. "And Blaine." He stepped closer to him. "I really, really would love it if you finally came to the music night this next week. I know you don't like it, but - well, let's be honest, you owe me."

"I guess I do," said Blaine. "Fine. I'll - I'll be there. Nothing could be worse than today," he joked, though Kurt didn't laugh. He sighed. "I promise, I'll be there."

"Good."

Kurt leaned in to hug Blaine and this time, Blaine was actually prepared for what was going to happen. Kurt's hand slipped effortlessly under his right wing, the other hand coming to rest on his left, fingers tangling in the feathers. Blaine's breath still caught as he sagged against Kurt's body. His hands came up behind Kurt's back, shaking, as he did the same thing. His one shaking hand rested under one of Kurt's wings, his back warm and smooth. The other, more hesitantly, came up to the top of Kurt's other wing. From where his chin rested on Kurt's shoulder, he could see it when his hand came to rest in the stark white feathers and feel how soft and cool they were to the touch. Against the coloring of Blaine's tan hand, the contrast was almost as shocking as their wings' differences. Most of all, the feeling of Kurt's wings in his hand was something he couldn't even describe, besides the way it made him feel like he was floating on air.

They pulled away from each other after a long moment that wasn't long enough for Blaine and Kurt patted his wing before detangling himself. "I'll see you tomorrow," he said.

"Yeah - tomorrow," said Blaine in a daze. He led Kurt to the door and when he was alone again in his apartment he sat down on the couch and his eyes fell once more on the feather resting on the ground. It had been joined by another two dark feathers.

The night of the music night at Gabriel's Harp comes quickly, the rest of his week rushing by too fast. Blaine filters inside to the absolutely packed Harp, which looks almost strange to him, since he's only ever here when only a few people are milling around the coffee shop and music stands. There are a few initial stares as he walks in, but they soon stop as he finds a place to sit a few rows away from the makeshift stage that is set up where a few CD stands usually are. The seats and tables extend all the way into the café part of the store and Blaine is pretty sure the Harp makes a fortune on coffee during their music nights.

The lights dim after about ten minutes and Kurt comes on to a few cheers and applause to announce the first performer and urge everyone to get drinks, which are half off. The singer is a tiny blonde girl who sings with a sultry tone that Blaine quite enjoys. She thanks everyone and walks off with a smile. Kurt comes back on to introduce the next person. For a few people he mentions if they have an EP CD for sale and that it can be bought after the show just at the register and how much it is. He's funny and personable when he's at the mic and Blaine knows he's completely at home on stage, more than any where else.

The night begins to wind down and Blaine is actually quite impressed with everyone who has sung so far. From solos, duets, and full bands, they talent is very good. A few have done covers while others performed their original stuff. Blaine makes a note to buy some of the EPs at the register after.

Kurt comes on stage again and looks nervous for the first time. "So that was your last official performer," said Kurt. "But I hope you don't mind if I take the mic for a song?" There was some applause and excited "woos" throughout the store, which made Kurt flush and his feathers ruffle slightly. "Well good - because I was going to sing whether you liked it or not." People laughed and someone behind Blaine whistled.

A few musicians from an earlier band filtered onstage to sit at the piano and the guitar behind Kurt. He was nodding at them and then turned back to the mic. "This song - well, it's for someone here that I hope is here tonight." He laughed nervously and Blaine's heart must have stopped for at least a beat as he realized - him - he means him.

The music started up in the next moment and Blaine watched as Kurt closed his eyes for a moment and pressed his lips closer to the mic the moment before he began to sing. Of course, Blaine recognized it the moment the haunting, beautiful melody began.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night

Take these broken wings and learn to fly

All your life

You were only waiting for this moment to arise.

Blaine's heart beat wildly inside his chest as he watched Kurt perform, the audience instantly in the palm of his hand. In the light of the stage, Kurt certainly looked like an angle, bathed in white light and his wings looking pale and ethereal behind him. It was like Blaine was seeing in for the first time, in that moment. No one had ever done something like this for Blaine before. And Kurt - beautiful, amazing Kurt - couldn't be -

Blackbird fly Blackbird fly

Into the light of the dark black night.

Blaine was in love with Kurt.

It struck him suddenly, with the weight of a thousand bricks. How had he not seen it earlier?

Blackbird singing in the dead of night

Take these broken wings and learn to fly

All your life

You were only waiting for this moment to arise

You were only waiting for this moment to arise

You were only waiting for this moment to arise.

But he shouldn't; he couldn't.

The song ended and everyone applauded enthusiastically. Even Blaine rasied his hands in his daze. After that the room began to thin out quickly, couples and groups of friends exiting together. Blaine sat at the table, stunned.

"Blaine! You're here!"

He looked up to see Kurt, walking toward him quickly.

"I promised, didn't I?" Blaine found himself saying.

"Did - did you like the song?" asked Kurt, voice slightly breathless.

"I…," said Blaine searching for words. "I don't - I don't know," he lied.

"W-what?" asked Kurt. "Blaine -" He reached out to lay his hand on Blaine's knee and he jerked away as if burnt. This - this was just what they were. They were friends and Kurt had sung the song for him out of pity of what had happened last weekend and because he was his friend. He shouldn't be anything more than that.

"I don't think this is going to work out anymore," said Blaine, voice high.

"You don't think what is going to work out anymore?" snapped Kurt.

"This - this friendship," said Blaine. "I know you said that I shouldn't care what people think, Kurt, and that's all nice in theory," he began and tried not to look Kurt in the eye as he lied. "But the point is that they still think it. No one - they will always look at us like freaks. We can't - I can't do this, Kurt."

"Blaine," said Kurt, his voice breaking as he reached out for his hand.

Blaine pulled his arm away once more.

This hurt too much.

He stood and walked out from Gabriel's Harp, his wings flying behind him.

Blaine goes over the moment in his head over and over again. He wonders if he was being silly - but no, he knows there is truth in his words. He knows the stares he got when he was with Kurt as a friend were bad, and if Kurt even felt about him in the same way Blaine felt for him and they got together, they would be worse.

Black and white are opposites. Kurt is good and Blaine, deep down, knows he's not. Every time he looks at his case files from work, he knows that. All the stares they would get, the judgment in those eyes, would be justified and Blaine knows that.

Blaine begins by throwing himself into his work, not even touching his music. He gets call after call from Kurt, eventually turning off his phone to avoid them. The day after the music night, Blaine wakes up with a horrible headache and upset stomach. He drags himself out of bed for a few minutes and into his bathroom. He looks horrible when he looks into the mirror and turns around to go back to bed for at least the next week, he feels so horrible.

As he's slipping back into bed, he notices how there are a few dozen of his feathers in between his sheets. He picks a few up, noting how old they look. He drops them with a groan, confusion settling over him. He feels like he's molting and of course, the loss of feathers would point to that - but Blaine had already went through his molting for the year, just three months ago. It's a yearly thing he dreads, mostly due to the slight headache he gets and his inability to handle anything more than crackers for two days. So why is he molting again? And why does it feel so bad?

Blaine laid on his stomach and tried to ignore the pain of it all. He fell into a fitful sleep.

The next time he wakes up, it's dark inside his room. He looks over at the clock, noticing that it's 2 in the morning - meaning he's slept all day and still feels horrible.

He stands, knowing he should eat and drink something, even though is stomach feels like it's eating itself. As he gets up, feathers fall from his body and sheets, a few sticking to his chest because of the light sheen of sweat.

In just the time he's been a sleep, it looks like all his feathers have fallen out. He makes sure not to go into his bathroom to look at his wings - he'd always thought they looked creepy without any feathers on them, as his knew set grew in. It is strange, however, because it does really look like all his feathers have fallen out. His yearly molting usually means just half or so fall out to be replaced by new ones.

Blaine knows he should call his doctor or something, but he's so tired. He pulls himself to the kitchen and slowly drinks a glass of water and chews through two crackers slowly. By then, he's so exhausted he barely makes it back to his bed before drifting off to sleep again.

The next time Blaine wakes up, he still feels like death warmed over, but this time he thinks that's just having to due with sleeping so much. He doesn't have a headache anymore, and his stomach isn't threatening to spill at the moment, so that's good. He sits up in bed with a groan, still confused.

Why had he molted again for the year? He thinks as he looks around at all the feathers around him. And he'd reacted so much more to the symptoms this time. Most people only experienced a headache and stomach ache when molting for the year, for some it was more extreme and others mild, but nothing like what Blaine had just experienced for the last two days. Blaine stretched and scratched his chin, the scruff he'd grown making a scratching sound. The last time he had molted twice in a year had been when he'd changed to his black wings and -

Blaine paused in that thought, arms stretched toward the air.

Had he - had he changed again? The time before that he had molted twice in a year because of his change to dark brown at 12. Blaine stood in a single movement, heart beating. How much darker could his wings get he wondered.

He rushed to his bathroom, not even sure if he wanted to know. He took a few calming breaths before flipping on the light and looking into the mirror, his back twisted toward it to see his wings.

What he saw, no one could have prepared him for.

His black wings have been replaced, alright, but not with a darker color. Neither are they brown, or tan, or white. The wings on his back are now blue. Or at least, most of them are. The most of his wing is this bright cobalt blue coloring, with some darker blues mixed in and faded between them. The edges of his wings are the darkest part now, a color that is more a dark blue than a black.

Blaine flutters his wings, almost like a test, and is breathless when his wings react to light in the bathroom. The bluest wings almost shimmer in the light, turning lighter at some angles and darker at others, and the outlining dark blue feathers are sleek and have an even bluer hint to them with the light. Blaine keeps moving them, amazed at how much the change with the light.

He stops for a few moments, just staring at them. He's never seen anyone with this color wings before. The spectrum only really goes from white to black, with everything in between - save for colors like blues, reds, purples - ones like that. While they are certainly found in nature in actual birds' wings and plumage, they are puzzlingly not seen in humans' wings.

The more Blaine stares at his wings, the more he's reminded of a hummingbird. Especially in the light, Blaine almost thinks he sees a tint of green in the movement. It looks so much like a hummingbird - or of what he's seen in photos of a hummingbird frozen in flight.

Blaine stares for a long time at his wings, flexing and moving them in different ways, still not quite believing - or really knowing - what had happened.

At some point the dragged himself from the room and to the kitchen, suddenly ravenous. He makes himself breakfast, though it's late in the afternoon and eats quickly. He logs onto his computer, realizing that he had just missed two days of work without calling in. He knows there will be a few angry messages and he ignores them for now. His eyes take in those messages from his boss, then falls to his message from the Harp.

He'd almost forgotten the fight with Kurt earlier that week. He stares for a long moment before grabbing his phone, abandoned since the music night on the table and turns it on.

There are dozens of missed calls and text messages from Kurt. There are only two voicemails, however.

Blaine calls his voicemail and waits nervously to hear the messages.

"Blaine - I've called you a lot and now I'm going straight to voicemail." Kurt sighs. "Look - I understand what you said last night, but that doesn't mean - I don't care, Blaine. I really don't. I care about you a lot and I don't care what people say and you shouldn't either. Please, I sang that song… for you. For you and I wanted you to get something - something else from it. I just - I can't say this on a voicemail. Please, call me back."

Blaine deletes the message and moves to the next. This one was left maybe twelve hours ago.

"Blaine - look, I'm really worried right now. You're not calling me and I haven't seen you around and you didn't answer when I knocked on your door yesterday. Just please call me back or text me so I know you're alright. Bye."

Blaine deletes that one as well. He sets his phone down to stare at it for a long time. He knows he should let Kurt know he's okay. He texts him so - just those two words: I'm OK. He gets the reply quickly.

Good. I'm here to talk if you need to. Thanks.

Blaine does want to talk to Kurt - god, does he ever. He wants to kiss Kurt and touch him and just be with him - but he can't. They can't be together. Not with Kurt and his perfect wings and Blaine and his dark, evil -

Blaine sits up straight in his chair. He reaches back to feel his wings, which aren't black anymore. They're blue, and actually beautiful and he's not quite sure what to make of them actually.

He sits there for a long time and wonders: does it make a difference?

Kurt stood in the back of the room, sulking. Even he can admit it. It's been a week and he hasn't gotten a call back from Blaine yet. The only contact had been the text saying he was okay, which at least put some of his nerves at bay. Now he was at music night and honestly, he just wanted to go home and crawl into bed. He'd even forgone being the MC tonight and gave that job to his Assistant Manager, Shelly, who was funny on the mic anyway.

At least the night was winding down. They had about an hour and a half worth of performers signed up for tonight and it looked like Shelly had just announced the last performer. Kurt clapped gladly when he was over and pushed himself away from the wall he had been leaning up against.

Shelly walked up to the mic with a smile. "Give it up for all our performers tonight!" she said to the answering applause. "We just have one more for you tonight - he is a last minute addition, actually and he'll close us for the night. Make sure to buy some of the EPs of our performers tonight at the register. I now present to you Blaine Anderson."

Kurt almost fell to the ground from shock, though he hadn't even been walking. He began to make his way closer to the makeshift stage, surprised that yes - Blaine was walking on stage in a faded brown leather jacket and a pair of fitted dark wash jeans. A soft murmur broke out in the crowd and Kurt winced - of course they would notice his wings. Poor Blaine - he knew just as much how it was to have whispers follow you around everywhere, though for Blaine, they were always negative.

Then Kurt noticed that, while Blaine's wings were the cause of the whispering, it wasn't in the way he thought.

Kurt stopped mid step, someone's wing poking painfully into his stomach as he stared up at Blaine on stage. The lighting reflected across his wings and Kurt wondered why it had taken him so long to notice.

Blaine's wings were a beautiful, vibrant shade of blue. Well - many kinds of blue, ranging into the darker shades of the color.

Blaine smiled nervously out at everyone, coming to stand in front of the microphone, his guitar slung across his shoulder and held protectively in front of his body.

"Hi there," he said, his voice slightly breathless. People stopped their whispering for the moment, though Kurt knew they were still reeling from his wings. Kurt had never seen such a color before - save for on a blue jay in nature or something.

"I'm really, really nervous to be up here right now," said Blaine with a nervous laugh. "You see, music has always been really personal to me. I never thought I'd be up here about to sing for this many people." He shook his head and started to strum his guitar. "This song is for someone really special and I hope he knows… that I'm sorry, most of all." Blaine ducked his head and Kurt's heart sped up as he continued to push his way near the front of the crowd again. He finally settled near the front, just off to the side, standing and watching Blaine as he began to sing.

When you were here before,

I couldn't look you in the eye.

You're just like an angel,

your skin makes me cry.

You float like a feather

in a beautiful world,

you're so very special...

I wish I was special.

But I'm a creep, I'm a weirdo.

What the hell am I doing here?

I don't belong here.

Kurt knew that Blaine was talented. Of course he was. His voice was like butter and honey - smooth and warm and it washed over Kurt and made him feel like he was at home. Besides that, Kurt barely dared to breathe. Blaine was pouring his soul out on the stage and the whole room could hear that; see it in his movements and in his eyes.

This was for him.

I don't care if it hurts

I want to have control.

I want a perfect body,

I want a perfect soul.

I want you to notice

when I'm not around.

You're so fucking special

I wish I was special.

Blaine finished the song at first he was met with a stunned silence, then a round of enthusiastic applause. Blaine looked surprised, coming back to himself and realizing, it appeared, where he was for the first time since beginning the song. He bowed his head for a moment and mouthed "thank you" before walking off stage quickly. Kurt rushed toward him, the sound of Shelly talking into the mic and chairs pushing back with squeaks as people stood to leave barely registering, as he went straight to Blaine.

"Blaine!" he called out and Blaine whirled around, narrowly missing hitting someone with his wings. Kurt launched himself at Blaine, pulling him into his arm, his hand coming up naturally to bury into his feathers. They seemed softer than before and Kurt couldn't believe that he was here. "I miss you," he mumbled into his shoulder.

"I missed you too," said Blaine, breathless.

They hold each other for a long time before Kurt finally pulls away. His eyes drifted to Blaine's wings and he's still in shock - they are vibrant and so striking that he doesn't quite blame everyone who keeps looking over to them. He tells Blaine that they need to talk, but first, he goes around making sure he and his employees can get everyone out of the Harp. After the patrons are gone, he sends them out. Usually they stay late to break down the set, but Kurt insists that they can do it in the morning and then locks up, turning back to find Blaine standing where he left him, looking lost.

Kurt walks over to him, grabbing his hand. "So," he said. "You sang in front of people. And - your wings. And that song."

Blaine smiled at him and laughed, his wings fluttering with delight. Kurt is pretty sure he's never seen Blaine do such a thing before. In the past, his wings always seem to stay stiff and controlled, much like Blaine himself. "Yeah. The fact that I just sang - well, that hasn't quite hit. I came up with idea a few days ago and can't believe I actually went through with it. And the wings - that happened a few days after the last music night. I had already molted this year, so I thought it was… weird. Then I woke up and had these and well -"

"They changed," said Kurt, awed. Of course he had believed Blaine when he said he was a Color Changer, but to see it actually happen was shocking.

"They did. Do you - do you like them?"

Blaine sounds nervous as he asked Kurt and his heart breaks.

"I think they are beautiful," said Kurt. "But, for the record, I thought your black ones were beautiful." Blaine made a face and Kurt reached out to hit him on the shoulder. "I'm serious, Blaine. The wings - they don't matter. What matters is you."

Blaine smiled at him, his eyes wide and moist. "I - that means a lot."

"And the song," Kurt prompted. His heard was beating faster as he mentioned it, waiting for Blaine to say something.

"That was - that's how I feel, Kurt," said Blaine quietly. "I said last week I didn't want to be your friend - and that's because I wanted to be more, but I didn't think we could do that. Not with my wings and your wings like they were. I still think - I know there will be stares even if we are just friends. Because I know you probably don't feel the same way. I just wanted everything out in the open this time, when we start our friendship again."

"What are you saying?" asked Kurt, breathless.

"I - Kurt," said Blaine. "There is a moment when you - you open your eyes and see someone for the first time. Last week, when you sang 'Blackbird,' that was a moment for me. I saw you on that stage and - I realized that it was you. It was always you, Kurt. I've been looking for you forever." Blaine had reached out and had taken both of Kurt's hand in his. "I've been looking for someone who wouldn't judge me based on my wings, or for being who I am - and that was you from the very beginning. Last week I realized that - I love you, Kurt."

Kurt's breath caught and he looked at Blaine with wide eyes. "You - you do?" His heart beat faster and faster in his chest and it felt like he was about to vibrate right out of his body.

"I do. And I know you probably don't feel the same," said Blaine. "But that's okay. I just want to be with you in any way I can, Kurt. If that means friendship, I'm okay with that."

"Oh, Blaine."

Blaine looked at him, eyes wide, and Kurt really couldn't stop himself. He reached up, bringing his arms around Blaine's neck and pulling him closer to press their lips together. Blaine must have been surprised, because for a moment he didn't react. Then, they kissed - and really kissed.

Blaine's lips were soft and hesitant against Kurt's and he seemed to melt against him. Kurt tugged his bottom lip into his mouth and Blaine made a small noise that seemed to reverberate in Kurt's mouth, making his face heat up. Blaine's hands were on his waist and Kurt reached up, his hand cupping Blaine's cheek naturally - like it belonged there.

Though Kurt wanted to stay like that forever, joined at the lips and his fingers exploring the skin of Blaine's face, they pulled away, breathless and smiling. "You - you kissed me," said Blaine, surprised.

"I did," said Kurt with a laugh. He still stroked Blaine's cheek with his thumb, the fine stubble rough against the pads of his finger. "I think I've had feelings for you since the moment I met you. But I knew you didn't need that, Blaine. You didn't love yourself, let alone another person." Blaine nodded sadly at this in agreement. "I love you, Blaine," said Kurt softly.

"I love you," he repeated and they leaned forward again, falling together in another breathtaking kiss.

Epilogue: 1 year later

Blaine walked on stage, waving out at the packed house at the Harp, his feathers ruffling with the slight nerves he still got when on stage. "Hey everyone," he said into the mic. A few people whistled in the crowd, making others laugh and Blaine roll his eyes. "So we're going to get to the performances in just a bit," he began. "But I just wanted to remind you of the usual business.

"As always, coffee is half off during the performances, but make sure not to be a complete ass and get up during performances, okay? Wait for the in between to get up from your seat and come back, for the good of everyone's enjoyment." There were a few chuckles. "Secondly, all EPs will be available at the register and at our local artist display. Make sure to support all our performers!"

Blaine looked out at the crowd with a smile. "And many of you know that myself and the Harp started up our own recording studio to help artists record demos and EPs, and get them out there. So if you or someone you know is interested in making an original CD, you just come to the Harp and we can take care of you for an affordable price.

"Okay - I think I see Kurt in the back telling me to shut up and get on with the show," said Blaine, raising his hand to cover the light in his eyes. Everyone laughed and there was an indignant "Hey!" from Kurt in the back. "So without further ado - Gabriel's Harp's first performer of the night!"

Blaine walked off stage, leaning up against a wall as the first performer walked up. As she began to sing, Blaine felt a hand move down the top of his wing, to almost the very end. He shivered with pleasure as the hand came to rest just under the other wing, his thumb coming up to stroke the start of the appendage gently.

"You're a ham," said Kurt.

"Coming from you."

Kurt stuck his tongue out at Blaine and Blaine leaned forward, catching it with his mouth and Kurt giggled, pulling away and pushing his shoulder. Despite the action, his own wings rose slightly and he looked pleased. "Blaine - later," he said, voice lowering.

"It's dark enough," Blaine said. "They wouldn't even mind if I didn't return to be MC. I can give the job to Shelly tonight," he said, reaching over and putting his arms around Kurt's waist. One hand came up to gently stroke Kurt's wing.

Kurt looked distracted for a long moment - Blaine had found Kurt's weak spot on his right wing months ago and often used it to his advantage - then he glared down at Blaine playfully. "You are performing later, Blaine."

"Plenty of time," mumbled Blaine, pressing a kiss to Kurt's neck.

"Oh and then you would walk on stage, clothes disheveled and feathers ruffled and askew and everything would know."

"I'm completely fine with that." Blaine kissed him with a loud smack. "Fine - fine. I'll be good - for now. As for later…"

Kurt rolled his eyes and pushed him toward the stage, where the first performer had just finished.

Near the middle of the set, Blaine walked up with his guitar in hand, which had a strap the same blue color of his wings. This was met with raucous applause. "Yeah, I have a quick song for you guys tonight," said Blaine into the mic. "Then if it's all fine with you, I think I'll turn the mic over to Shelly for the rest of the night and go home. I'm like - super tired," he said with an exaggerated wink. The audience "oooh-ed" suggestively and there was Kurt calling from the side of the stage - "Blaine!"

"Hey, it's your fault for agreeing to be engaged to me," teased Blaine lightly. He began to strum the guitar. "And now to business."

Drink up baby doll

Are you in or are you out?

Leave your things behind

'Cause it's all going off without you

Excuse me too busy you're writing your tragedy

These mishaps

You bubble-wrap

When you've no idea what you're like

So, let go, let go

Jump in

Oh well, what you waiting for?

It's all right

'Cause there's beauty in the breakdown

So, let go, let go

Just get in

Oh, it's so amazing here

It's all right

'cause there's beauty in the breakdown

Blaine looked over to where Kurt was standing, a serene smile on his face which widened when Blaine made eye contact with him.

So amazing here

'Cause there's beauty in the breakdown

Blaine barely heard the applause as he walked off stage, leaning over to kiss Kurt and then wrap his arms around him in a hug, his fingers pressing into his feathers. "Let's get out of here, angel," he said.

Kurt kissed his cheek and pulled away, stepping to his side, their hips bumping against each other. "After you, hummingbird."

Fin

Below is the "playlist" for this fic. It's in order of apperarence, then after "Let Go" it's songs that are inspiration for the fic (though not sang in it) and probably listened to by Blaine! If you go to my Tumblr (chatterboxrose) you should be able to find a link to the music in my fic tag!

Come November - Thriving Ivory

Hello Bones - Jeff Pianki

Lemon - Katy Rose

Little Talks - Of Monsters and Men

Blackbird - The Beatles/Kurt Hummel

Creep - Amanda Palmer

Let Go - Frou Frou/Boys Like Girls Cover

Keeping It Together - Tyler Ward and The Co

Bitter Pill - Carly Calbero

Change Me - Sanctus Real

Satisfy - Vedera

Elephant Gun - Beirut

Cough Syrup - Blaine Anderson/Glee Version

Fic: Mr. Anderson, Matchmaker

Kid!Klaine
Title: Mr. Anderson, Matchmaker
Rating: PG
Summary: Mr. Anderson is Kurt's history teacher, probably the only teacher in the school that really, truly cares about the bullying he encounters for being gay. He'd never imagined that Mr. Anderson would actually try to set him up with his younger brother, though. AU

00000

" - and the moral of today's history lesson is to never put a short person in charge of anything," said Mr. Anderson, sitting on his desk casually, his feed periodically hitting the desk. "Honestly, they should have a height requirement for the President. Well, the only exception was probably old Dubba - we was a rarity in which he was tall in stature but short in brains."

The class laughed as Mr. Anderson got off on one of his tangents - as he usually did, especially near the end of lectures. He shakes his head absently. "The point. "The point is - Napoleonic Wars were bad people! And because of short people. And in about a hundred and fifty years, aka, next month, we will see how other short people screw things up and are generally too angry and pissed off to rule anything fairly."

One of the girls in the front row, a short little Cheerio, rolled her eyes. Mr. Anderson looks at her, a charming smile already stunning her. "Of course, I have nothing against short people at all. Really. But would I trust some of my shorter family members with anything? No. Not at all."

The bell rings finally and the classroom of juniors stands up in a hurry, ready to enjoy their weekend. "Remember to read the chapter seven this weekend people!" Mr. Anderson said over the din. "Or at least skim it and maybe you'll hope to get one or two of the questions on the pop quiz right!"

A few kids groan, but most just roll their eyes like the Cheerio. "Thanks Mr. A," a few say, and one of the football players high five Mr. Anderson's waiting hand as they walk out.

"Hey Kurt," said Mr. Anderson, making Kurt pause in putting his books away in his bag, looking up to his history teacher. "Can you stay after a minute?"

"Of course, Mr. Anderson," said Kurt.

"Ugh, I hate that Mister crap," he said, nose crinkling. "And it reminds me way too much of my dad. Call me Cooper?"

Kurt rolled his eyes and settled his bag on his shoulder, then leaned up against the desk. "I somehow think that would be vastly inappropriate, Mr. Anderson."

"You are a fireball," said Mr. Anderson. "Look Kurt, I just wanted to thank you for starting off some of the discussions today - and well, pretty much everyday. You really save me from talking to the equivalent of a brick wall. Plus, you get other people to speak up." Mr. Anderson gave Kurt one of his smiles that probably made all of the female students (and well, Kurt too) swoon. "Thank you, Kurt."

"You're - you're welcome, sir," said Kurt, a tad breathlessly. "I can't help most of my classmates' stupidity, but I do enjoy history myself."

"I can see that," said Mr. Anderson. "You're good, too."

"Thanks," said Kurt, his chest swelling with the appreciation.

"And Kurt," said Mr. Anderson, his voice changing from praise to concern. "Look, I see what goes on in the hallways. I'm not as jaded or uncaring as some of the teachers that have been year for years. I see what the students do to you and that Glee club of yours."

Kurt looked at Mr. Anderson with wide eyes, his cheeks burning.

"The bullying you have to go through - it makes me sick," said Mr. Anderson. "You especially. Look, Kurt, I don't care about my students' sexual orientation. I've had to battle my opinions with the subject in my family and - and no one should made to feel insignificant because of who they were born to love. I just - I know you have it rough here. I just wanted to let you know that I'm here to talk whenever you need it, okay?"

Kurt was honestly speechless. Sure, Mr. Shuester had tried to help him earlier this month, but it was no use. People just didn't care without the solid proof Kurt needed. Kurt's throat tightened and his vision blurred. "Thank - thank you, Mr. Anderson," he said, voice tight. "Cooper."

A wide grin broke onto Mr. Anderson's face at his name. He reached forward and squeezed Kurt's shoulder in a way that almost reminded Kurt of his dad, strong and reassuring. "No problem, Kurt." He reached his hand away and Kurt almost missed the safety it offered. "I'll watch out for you in the hall. Cause interference and pass out some detentions if I need to. I do love disciplining some of the little shits that go to school here - oops. Damn, I'm not suppose to say that kind of stuff in front of students."

Despite how serious Mr. Anderson actually sounded, Kurt was busy laughing, happy to lighten the mood. "It's okay," said Kurt. "It's high school. I heard worse in the bathroom this morning."

"Yeah, well."

"Coop?"

Kurt and Mr. Anderson turned to the doorway, where a shorter boy was standing. He wore what looked like a school uniform, tie loose, and gelled hair. Kurt blinked a few times, because really, the boy was classically handsome and if he didn't know any better, looked as if he belonged in a classical romance film.

"You ready to go?" he asked, looking at Mr. Anderson.

"Blainey!" said Mr. Anderson exclaimed and Kurt noted how the boy winced. "Just the man I wanted to see. What a surprise."

"Uh, you asked me to come pick you up because your car broke down?" asked the boy in confusion. Mr. Anderson had reached the boy, throwing an arm around his shoulders and pulling him into the classroom.

"Yes, yes," said Mr. Anderson dismissively. "Hey Blaine, I want you to meet one of my star pupils! This is Kurt Hummel. Kurt, this is my little brother, Blaine Anderson." He drops his voice. "This is the short relative I mentioned. He shouldn't be trusted with anything."

"Are you seriously on about your short person rant again?" muttered Blaine darkly. "Really, plenty of short people can lead things without -"

"Napoleon complex, little brother, really, it happens to the best," said Mr. Anderson.

"Um, hello," said Kurt. Blaine looks over to him, the frown he'd been giving his brother morphing into a smile. It's strange, to see some similarities between his history teacher and his brother. There must be quite the age gap, as well.

"Hello," he said. "Sorry about Cooper, he's just - uh - well, I really don't know what his excuse is."

"Well you two look to be hitting it off." Both Kurt and Blaine looked over to Mr. Anderson, who has a look of delight on his face. "You know Kurt, my brother here is single. And totally gay, if you were wondering."

Blaine flushes at Mr. Anderson's comment. Kurt blinks a few times at them and as the words Mr. Anderson said begin to process, he slowly turns red as well. His eyes go to Blaine, who honestly, he hadn't even spared at thought toward him either gay or straight.

"Cooper, oh my god."

"Mr. Anderson, I really don't think -"

"And obviously I don't know too much about your personal life, but I'm sure Kurt here is single as well and would love to go out with you Blainey," said Mr. Anderson. "My brother is quite the catch. He's a singer in Glee club, like yourself. Almost as talented as his brother."

"Oh my god."

"You're in Glee?" asked Kurt, looking over to Blaine and asking before he'd really thought it through. Blaine looked over to him, still embarrassed.

"I - yes," he said. "I'm actually the lead singer. Uh. Yeah."

"Oh," said Kurt.

They stared at each other for a long moment before once again, Mr. Anderson broke through. "Let me just grab my bag." He leaned over his desk, grabbing his leather bag and a few papers of the desk. Then he reached over and plucked the keys easily from Blaine's hand before he could snatch them back.

"Hey!"

"I'm just going to drive home," said Mr. Anderson. "Why don't you two like, I don't know, go to Breadstix. I hear that's a popular destination for dates. You can even stay at my apartment tonight so you don't have to drive back to Westerville later on." Mr. Anderson winked in Blaine's direction. "If you get back from the night at all."

"Cooper!" Blaine avoided Kurt's eye and Kurt felt like the ground was going to swallow him. "We - we never said we were going on a date. Just because - just because we're both gay."

"Well then at least hang out and get coffee and talk about gay things." Mr. Anderson gestured with his hand. "Rainbows. Clothes. How cute Zac Efron is - I don't know."

"That is extremely stereotypical, Coop," muttered Blaine.

"Whateves," said Mr. Anderson. "Call me if you need a ride, if Kurt can't drive you home." He turned to Kurt and waved. "See you Monday, Kurt." Then he promptly slipped into the hallway before Blaine or Kurt could say another word.

They sat in a charged silence for a few moments, still to embarrassed to make eye contact. Finally, Kurt sighs and reaches up to clutch the strap of his bag as he turns to Blaine. "Look," he said. "I'm sorry about this. I guess your brother like, planned this. I didn't have anything to do with it and I - I can understand you not wanting to go out on this ridiculous date that your brother wanted us to go on. I mean, I'm not the kind of person people like you would probably date." Kurt blushes as Blaine looks up to him. "And I can just drive you to your brother's apartment now if you want. Or I guess - we could go get coffee or something. Talk? I never met anyone else like me my age before." Kurt paused. "It could be nice - to talk."

"Why do you think I'm the kid of guy that wouldn't date a guy like you?"

Kurt hadn't expected those to be the words out of Blaine's mouth.

"I just - you're, uh," said Kurt, floundering. "You're kind of gorgeous."

Kurt has never wanted to be able to take back his words more than right now.

"I - oh god."

Blaine smiles at him, looking a bit flushed. "Kurt," he said, as if it were obvious. "I don't know if you have noticed, but you're pretty gorgeous yourself. And I'm a firm supporter that type is sort of overrated. I think dating is pretty open - well, if I'd ever been on one before. Which I haven't." He looked embarrassed.

"Oh," said Kurt. "I haven't either. Been on a date, that is."

"Oh."

They looked at each other for a long moment then Blaine sighed. "I could go for some coffee, if you didn't mind. And maybe - well, it is Friday, after all," he said. "Maybe after some coffee, we might feel like going out to dinner. Only if I don't completely annoy you with coffee, I guess."

"Well," said Kurt breathlessly. "I guess we'll see."

It's stilled conversation at first at the Lima Bean. Kurt isn't sure what to say and neither is Blaine. Finally, they find a few common topics to talk about, such as singing and suddenly, a wealth of conversation is opened. Kurt is sure he's never been able to talk so much about these topics to someone else in his whole life. Not even others in his Glee club.

Two hours later, Blaine looks at his watch and smiles. "Well, it's dinner time," he said, looking a little nervous. "I don't know about you, but I sort of don't want this conversation to end. So I hoped you would, um, come with me to Breadstix?"

"I'd like that, actually," said Kurt, his heart pounding. This was his first date, right? He wasn't just imagining this?

Blaine laughed and shook his head silently. "God, I hate Cooper when he's right. He's insufferable."

"Sorry about that."

Blaine looked back up at Kurt, his eyes wide and the sides crinkling slightly with the size of his smile. "You know Kurt," he said. "I sort of don't mind."

At Breadstix, at some point, Blaine slides his hand over to Kurt's. "Is this okay?" he asked nervously.

"Yes," said Kurt, barely believing it.

They talk more about the light subjects they touched on in the Lima Bean, like fashion and their musical idols, as well as the deep. Kurt talks about his history of bullying at McKinley and Blaine shares that he had the same experience. Kurt feels better, somehow, getting everything off his chest. And Blaine - Blaine is funny and charming and endearing and so, so nice.

Finally, at the end of the date Kurt drives Blaine to his brother's apartment, which is strange to think of as his history teacher's house. Blaine unbuckles slowly, looking over to Kurt with a smile. "I had a nice time tonight," he said. "I hope you text me."

"I will," said Kurt, thinking about the new contact in his phone with the smile face just after 'Blaine'.

They sit there in a tense silence for a few long moments and Kurt does something he never knew he had the courage to do - he leans over and presses a kiss to Blaine's cheek, leaning away quickly to gauge his reaction.

There is a look of surprise on Blaine's face, which Kurt isn't sure is good or bad.

"Was that okay?"

"Yes," said Blaine, his voice high. "Yes, definitely - but -" Then he leans over and presses a kiss to Kurt's cheek and he feels like he's flying. This kiss is even better than Brittany's had ever been, even though it's only a simple cheek kiss. "There, now we're even."

"I'll call you," said Kurt.

Blaine opens the door and steps out, turning around to look at Kurt. "You better," he winks.

"Have fun telling your brother about our date," teases Kurt, feeling daring.

Blaine groans and shakes his head. "He's sure to hold it over my head for a while. Maybe even literally. He uses his height in evil ways." Kurt giggles. "I hope one day he teases you in class."

"Now that would just be unprofessional," said Kurt. "I think I'm safe. You on the other hand."

Blaine rolls his eyes, but smiles at Kurt. "Bye, Kurt. I really enjoyed meeting you, and I really, really can't wait to see you again."

"Same here, Blaine," he said.

Kurt watches as Blaine reaches the front door and waves in his direction. He drives back home with a wide smile on his face and sings along way too loudly to the love song on the radio.

Blaine enters the apartment, tugging off his tie and humming. He doesn't really expect Cooper to be sitting in the chair of the living room, a maniacal smile on his face.

"I told you so," is the first words out of Cooper's mouth and Blaine groans, because of course.

Then again, Blaine had told Kurt that Cooper's teasing was worth tonight. And it was, it really was.

FIN

Fic: Painted on my Skin

Kid!Klaine
Title: Painted on my Skin
Word Count: 18,700
Rating: PG
Warnings: Slight and brief trigger warning for self harm. 
Summary: AU - The “C” is a brilliant red. It twists and just as it comes up to start the “o” transitions into orange. The “o” in turn becomes a “u” and transitions to a bright yellow, then green, blue, indigo and finally ending with a violet “e.” The colors blend so flawlessly together, flow and work together to create the next letter, making the full work. 
AN: Based on this photo for a prompt. Here are two designs by spcshp and thissugarsgonesour of the design I imagined: 

      (click here for larger)

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Kurt has barely been in New York City for a week and still gets easily distracted when he needs to travel to get somewhere. Everywhere there is something new to see. Tall buildings that seemed to reach forever, towards the skies, all sorts of people that Kurt is sure can't truly exist, because they were so colorful and out there, people that would never have been in Lima, Ohio in a million years; and bright lights and rushing sounds everywhere. It was different than when he and his Glee club had come for Nationals, because this was his home now. A thought he couldn't even begin to get his mind around.

This amazing, fast paced, place was his home now. He would be here for school for at least the next four years and after that he would be damned if he wasn't going to stay here. Just being here for a week, moving into his dorm room and finding his way around the city a bit, had convinced him: Kurt Hummel belonged in this city.

That wasn't to say he didn't miss his family. His dad called him three times this week already, asking him if he was settling in alright, and Kurt could hear in his voice how much he missed him. Kurt missed his dad, too. But he felt better knowing that Carole would be able to keep him company. If his dad hadn't met Carole when he was in high school, and eventually married her, Kurt wasn't sure what this move to college would have done to his dad. He needed someone. Now he had Carole and his job in Congress, two things the Kurt knew made him so happy.

So Kurt worked by his slight homesickness and had thrown himself into New York and into school. He had been accepted to NYADA, one of the best performing arts schools in the country. How he had gotten in and Rachel Berry hadn't, Kurt wasn't sure. Kurt knew how talented Rachel was, and back when they were younger, he had resented that. It was something he came to love about her, of course, and he knew that she was better than him in so many things… but she had choked.

So Rachel had gotten in last minute to NYU and would be trying to transfer to NYADA in the coming year. She wasn't going to let her New York dreams end so easily, even though she had originally gotten the ridiculous notion to marry Finn, Kurt's step-brother, right out of high school. They were still together, for now, and only engaged.

Together, he and Rachel had moved into a small apartment about 20 minutes away from both of their schools. Her dads and Kurt's dad had pitched in some money until they both got jobs and would help pay for it. Kurt was thankful that he wouldn't have to deal with a dorm or a roommate - for one, he wouldn't be able to decorate his room as he wanted in a dorm, and he didn't want to share a room, plain and simple.

So Kurt decorated his room and the more common areas of the apartment with Rachel, trying to make it their new home. He also was preparing for school as best he could. This was different than anything he had ever done, because it was college. It was everything Kurt wanted to do with his life - sing and perform.

Kurt was nervous.

Obviously he put up a brave front for Rachel and his dad when he called, but he was so scared. He had killed with his audition, but what if he didn't have what it took? He had gotten the lead of Tony his senior year, only because he had been the only person to try out for the role, even though he wasn't what the directors thought Tony should be. He had showed them, though, when he'd played a great Tony.

Even though he could have gone without kissing Rachel Berry in his life.

Despite all these thoughts, Kurt was still absolutely terrified that he would fail. Fail at school. Fail at his dream.

These are the things that clouded his mind as he took the subway two stops from his apartment, then pushed his way out into the street to walk the rest of the way. He'd been too fidgety on the train, a death grip on the strap of his bag and toes of his boots tapping on the dirty floor. Now that he was out in the open air, he took a deep breath and pushed forward. He was on a more secluded street, and for a few horrible minutes, he was sure he had gotten lost. He knew he should have done a dry run of his way to school so he didn't get lost, but yesterday had been filled with last minute decorations in the apartment and time got away from him.

After a few minutes, though, and checking his phone for his location, he knows he's only five minutes away from campus and takes a deep breath. Kurt slows down and looks around. It's a pretty nice neighborhood, all things considered. There is a few walls with graffiti, but that's so common here that Kurt just takes it all in now.

There is one side of a building where the wall is a smooth white expanse, or at least, the parts that aren't covered in brilliant colors. It's not a wall as filled as others Kurt has seen. There is a flag painted high on the right corner, both gender signs painted in the center and frozen in a nonexistent wind that makes Kurt stop and smile. There are a few unreadable words near the bottom that Kurt's eyes ghost over.

Then he sees it.

It takes up a lot of the wall and is in the very center, a few feet down from the gender flag. It's very simple, for a piece of wall art, Kurt thinks at first. It's just a word.

But it's absolutely beautiful and makes Kurt completely pause for a few moments. He walks closer to the wall, blinking up at the word and reading it over and over again.

Courage.

The word itself is written in an elegant script. Kurt doesn't even understand how someone could do something so beautiful on a huge canvas, probably in the middle of the night. What draws Kurt to the word, however, isn't how beautiful the handwriting is. It's the colors.

The "C" is a brilliant red. It twists and just as it comes up to start the "o" transitions into orange. The "o" in turn becomes a "u" and transitions to a bright yellow, then green, blue, indigo and finally ending with a violet "e." The colors blend so flawlessly together, flow and work together to create the next letter, making the full work.

A complete sentiment.

Kurt looks up at the word. He can't help but feel like the origins of the word, especially with the colors, are aimed to the LGBTQ community. If anything, it hits Kurt's heart swiftly and his eyes are tearing up before he can even fully recognize it.

The grip on Kurt's bag tightens even more as his eyes keep scanning the word, following the rise and fall of the letters like a lifeline. After a few moments, Kurt blinks, keeps his eyes shut.

This is what he needed. So long ago.

He needed this - he needed courage - when he was in the closest and terrified of coming out to his father and friends. He needed the push out back then, even though somehow, he had found that courage without the prompting.

He needed this when he was being pushed around by bullies, called names and physically abused everyday. He needed this every time a slushie was tossed into his face and the hot tears mixed with the cold ice dripping down his face.

Oh, how he needed this when David Karofsky kissed him in the locker room. When he threatened him and Kurt didn't have anyone to turn to. He had been so scared for that whole year, until finally, things had resolved themselves. Karofsky moved and Kurt never heard from him again, until later in his senior year, when he tried to kill himself after being outted. God, he needed courage then, too, because part of him had wanted to reach out to Karofsky, but he couldn't. All he could think of was the year before and the fear and couldn't bring himself to visit him in the hospital.

Kurt wonders what courage would have done for him, if he had this when he was high school.

His eyes open, looking up at the mural once more. He reaches up and wipes the tears from his cheeks as a small smile lifts the edges of his lips.

The point was that he had this now. Kurt knows that this is what he needed, especially today.

Kurt takes one more look at the word, then his watch, and realizes that he's going to be late. He rushes pass the word and makes it in time for his history of music class. He's anxious throughout the class, though not necessarily from nerves anymore. He finds his thoughts going back to the word on the wall. The class itself is interesting, and doesn't seem too difficult at first. The professor, too, is funny and engaging. Nothing like teachers at McKinley. Kurt leaves feeling more at ease about the actual education he's going to be getting into than ever before.

Kurt grabs a coffee from the school's café before going to his theatre 101 class, which is a two and a half hour work shop. That, too, is amazing, purely for the fact that the teacher gets them up and moving doing acting exercises. Kurt is laughing with other people in his class that he automatically clicks with. He hasn't done that with people since Glee club, and it feels like being home in the choir room again.

After class Kurt gets lunch with Amanda and Jimmy, two of the people from his class who he'd been partnered with. Amanda is from Texas and Jimmy from here in New York, and he likes to hear about their backgrounds before coming here to NYADA. Amanda, for instance, was in most all of her high school productions. Not all of them were starring roles, but she just liked to be involved in any way possible. Jimmy was in Glee club, like Kurt, and loved singing as much as he liked acting. Kurt couldn't believe how quickly they all fell into a comfortable conversation. Outside his Glee club, Kurt hadn't really been friends with anyone in high school.

The three of them parted after lunch and Kurt felt like he was floating as he made his way back home the same way he had come. As he neared the wall with the mural, he slowed.

Part of Kurt wondered if it had even been real. It seemed too good to really exist. But as he rounded the corner, there it was, as vibrant as ever. He looked up at it with a wide smile. He couldn't even describe the amazing feelings the word and vivid colors provoked.

Kurt pulled his phone from his pocket, raising and steadying it in his hands to snap a photo. Then, after taking one more look, turned to walk back to the subway.

000000

At first, Kurt only sets the photo as his phone background. It's a comforting thing to see whenever he hangs up with his dad or closes out of a text with his friends back home. He keeps the sentiment of the mural in the forefront of his mind.

In some ways, Kurt thinks that it's almost easier to be courageous here. For once in his life, Kurt doesn't stand out. It's a curiously good feeling. There are other people who are gay in his classes. He's not the only one "out" and proud. He even gets flirted with by a guy in his musical theory class, something that blows Kurt away at first and leaves him a blushing mess for at least ten minutes.

Even though Kurt is still fabulous (how could he not be?) in the way he dresses, other people around him put just as much effort into their appearance as well. They even recognize the labels and work Kurt puts into his outfits and they spend hours talking about fashions with each other.

For once, Kurt isn't the only one, and so it's easier to put himself on the line to make friends or be great in his classes. Courage fell into his lap.

Kurt still looks at the mural everyday on his way to school. It's like greeting an old friend at this point. A reminder for what his day should be like.

The photo finds its way onto the wallpaper of his laptop, as well, because Kurt is frankly in love with it at this point. It's everything that Kurt strives to do in his day to day life at this point. It's obviously worked out. Rachel asks him about it at one point. Kurt blushes and looks away for a moment.

"It's on this wall on my way to school," he says when she asked. "It just - I really like it."

"It is rather beautiful," Rachel had said and they had moved on. Kurt was glad for this. For some reason, the word and mural had become something personal for him. His own mantra, only between him and whoever had put the word upon the wall who knows how long ago.

Two weeks after school begins, Kurt is at a coffee shop close to school finishing up on some homework and sipping on a cup of coffee when he hears his name. He lifts his head up, surprised to see a familiar face.

"Oh," he said, blinking up at the larger girl. "Lauren Zizes?"

"The one and only, elfin," she said, pulling out the chair across from him and sitting down. She puts her bag on the table, along with a camera case and a plate with a muffin.

"Wow," said Kurt, still a little surprised. He and Lauren hadn't ever been friends in high school, but he'd know her. He'd always admired (and feared) her for being the only girl on the wrestling team. Her parents had to sue the school, but hey, it had worked. "This is… strange. I didn't know you were going to New York after graduation."

"Of course not," she said. "And neither did I about you, because honestly, we didn't talk. I only joined the glee club that one time because Puckerman promised me seven minutes in heaven and Cadbury Eggs."

"Well," said Kurt. "We did appreciate it. We were a person short after all. Uh, what brought you to the city, then?" It was strange, being in New York with someone from Lima that wasn't Rachel.

"I got into a film school," said Lauren, brushing a few stray crumbs from her shirt. "For a while I was thinking about going into wrestling or getting a scholarship, but the moment you get hurt, you're out of luck. I liked the AV club a lot and so went for that instead."

"That's - that's actually really cool, Lauren," said Kurt. He did vaguely remember her being in the AV club with Artie, but he'd honestly never paid that much attention. "I'm going to NYADA for musical theatre."

"Of course you did twinkle toes," said Lauren. She said it with almost a mocking tone, but she was giving Kurt a genuine smile. "I gotta say, being out of Ohio has its perks, but seeing a familiar face from home is good, too."

"I agree," said Kurt, nodding enthusiastically. "I mean, I do live with Rachel Berry, but seeing another person from home is nice. If strange."

"Oh god, Rachel Berry," groaned Lauren. "Sorry, but if you bring her around here, I reserve the right to tape her mouth shut." A laugh bubbled up before he could stop it. There had been times since moving in with Rachel that Kurt had thought the same thing, honestly.

Kurt didn't question that Lauren has basically said there would be more meetings between them, either. Because she was right: it was nice to see a friendly familiar face here in this city that sometimes Kurt felt lost in, though he loved being here.

The first day, conversation was stilled. They brought up the past more often than not, comparing what teachers they liked and hated in high school. Certain students that they both disliked. Moments they remembered from the four years they had been in school together without really speaking. But it was actually fun, in its own way. It was probably one of the first times Kurt looked back on his high school experience with nostalgia.

" - Puckerman ended up being a horrible kisser, though, so that was a bust," said Lauren, as they had gotten onto relationships in high school for some reason. "I wouldn't have minded having a boyfriend in high school, but Puck just wasn't the guy at all. But there is this guy in my film studies class that is a fox."

"Hmm," said Kurt, finishing his coffee. "I wish I could have had a boyfriend in high school," he said, voice dropping. "But…"

"We went to Homophobic High, you can say it," said Lauren, as blunt as always. "It sucked that you couldn't get ass back in Ohio, because frankly, I'd hit that harder than the might fist of God if you swung in my direction."

Kurt's faced burned at Lauren's words, sputtering and looking down at the table. "Wow."

"It's true," said Lauren with a shrug. "You are hot, Hummel. Any gay guy would be stupid not to see that. You can't tell me you haven't gotten some looks since coming here."

"Well," said Kurt. "I do get flirted with in one of my classes by this guy - but he hasn't tried to ask me out or anything. And there have been some appreciative glances to my jeans that have absolutely nothing to do with my jeans. But like I said, nobody has actually asked me out. That's what matters, right?"

"Just you wait," said Lauren, taking a sip of her tea. "You'll be beating off all the Ricky Martins in this city with a stick in no time."

From there, Kurt and Lauren actually become something like friends. They exchange numbers and meet up for coffee and lunches often. Lauren ends up roping him and a few of his friends from NYADA for a project she needs to film. Obviously they are all completely up for it, because it helps them with their acting and being around a camera. Rachel is skeptical when he mentions Lauren to her, but doesn't push to meet up with her, which he knows Lauren appreciates. Kurt doesn't ever want to know if she's serious or not about the duct tape thing. (She probably is). Which is why Kurt doesn't want to risk them being in a room together for long.

It's something that grounds Kurt more. Lauren becomes a part of his schedule quickly. This mostly involves school and very little outside partying, because honestly, Kurt is just not in to that sort of thing. He does enjoy going out on the town once and a while, mostly because it's Lauren that ends up demanding they go out. She gets them into bars with fake IDs, once even taking them to a gay bar where Kurt feels uncomfortable and on display. Lauren thinks it's a blast, though.

Besides Rachel and the word on the back of the building wall, Lauren is the most constant and comforting thing he's found in New York. It makes the transition into the life of the city that much easier.

Before Kurt realizes how much time has passed, he's been in school for a little over a month. The city is turning colder everyday, which Kurt loves, because it's an excuse to break out all his scarves and layers especially on cold mornings.

Kurt walks into the coffee shop that he and Lauren usually frequent one morning, unwrapping his scarf slightly. He spots Lauren and waves, grabbing his own coffee and sitting in front of her. Without preamble, Lauren proclaims, "I'm getting at tattoo."

Kurt almost chokes on his coffee.

"What?" he asked, still a little surprised.

"A tattoo, god, it's not the most shocking thing in the world," said Lauren.

"It's just - I never knew you wanted one."

"I've been thinking about it for a while now," said Lauren. She shrugged nonchalantly.

"What did you want to get?" asked Kurt. He'd never really thought about the concept of a tattoo that much before - he'd always thought that they would be tacky.

"You know the antique film count down?" asked Lauren. "That spins around and counts down from 10 or 5?"

"For old movies?" asked Kurt. "Yeah, I know it. You want that?"

"Yes," said Lauren. "Just the number '1', though. Right on my shoulder. I've wanted it for years, honestly. My parents were never really that thrilled on the idea, though, so I decided against it. But I was thinking the other day and thought, what the hell, I got some money saved up for it and I'm an adult. I can do what I want."

"I guess you're right," said Kurt. "I mean, if you're sure? They are pretty permanent after all."

"Really, I had no idea."

"You know what I mean," said Kurt.

Lauren sighed. "I'm sure. I want this. I'm going whether or not you want to come with."

"Do you want me to come with you?"

"Yeah. Moral support and all that," said Lauren. "And what if the tattoo guy is weird? I don't want to be stuck in an awkward silence the whole time."

"Of course I'll come with you," said Kurt. "When did you want to do it?"

"This weekend," said Lauren. "I was asking around and there was a guy in my class that has a lot of tattoos that recommended a place. They're super clean and reliable. He likes their artists, too."

"Well then," said Kurt. "I guess sooner is better than later."

A few days later, Kurt finds himself in the first tattoo parlor that he's ever been in. Since he's never really thought about a tattoo before, he'd never thought he'd find himself in one. When he'd mentioned to Rachel that he was going with Lauren to get a tattoo, she'd nearly fainted. Kurt had quickly explained that he was going for moral support.

"You nearly gave me a heart attack," said Rachel. "Good god, Kurt."

It wasn't everything that Kurt had expected. It was nicely lit and most of the walls were covered with tattoo designs and photos of what had to be previous customers. The tattoo artists weren't what Kurt had expected, either. The stereotype of big burly guys with tattoo sleeves were wrong, and Kurt should have none better since he was always the stereotype as well.

The person giving Lauren here tattoo was actually a woman. She had a few tattoos on her arm and legs, which Kurt had to admit were quite tasteful. She was friendly and introduced herself as Jean. After Lauren told Jean what she wanted, she did a quick sketch and Lauren said she loved it. They went back to get Lauren's shoulder cleaned off before she put gloves on and started.

Kurt stood next to Lauren for the first ten minutes. A bit of the pain showed itself in Lauren's face at first, but it seemed to fade after a while. Kurt started to drift away from Lauren after her insistence that he look around and not get too bored. Her tattoo wasn't too big and wouldn't take that long, but it would still be a while.

So Kurt looked around at all the photos for a while. There were the usual: roses and dragons, some "tramp stamps" and others that were actually quite unique. At some point, maybe thirty minutes into the tattoo, Kurt came across a part of a wall completely devoted to handwriting tattoos.

They were all so different. Some where of neat script, others of cursive, other still quite messy and looked like a child's handwriting. Those were mostly on mothers and fathers, by the looks of it. That tugged at Kurt's heart, especially.

He'd definitely been quick to judge that tattoos were all tacky.

Kurt really liked the handwriting tattoos. He read them all. Some were single words, others full sentences. Sentiments of love and dreaming, of believing and others of just names. They were all sorts of different colors. Some plain and others bright.

As he read the tattoos, something tugged at him for a while. They looked familiar, in a way. Not familiar, just similar.

Then Kurt realized that they reminded him of the "Courage" mural.

Kurt thought about the word he'd seen so much at this point, it was like an old friend. The handwriting Kurt liked most, even out of the dozens on the wall in front of him. It was neat, but pretty. Definitely readable. The colors, too, were nice. They weren't plain, but they also were too much. They would actually look really nice against pale skin…

Kurt pulled out his phone, opening his screen and looking at the close up of the mural. Then he looked up at a particular tattoo photo. This one was of a girl's wrist with the word "Dreamer" written in black ink. Kurt liked the placement a lot. It was a place that could be easily covered with a long sleeved shirt if needed. Kurt looked down at his own wrist, bare and creamy white.

In this moment, Kurt realized his heart was beating frantically and his stomach flipped with the realization.

He was actually thinking about getting a tattoo.

When it finally hit him, Kurt actually paused to think about it for a moment.

Did he actually want something permanently inked onto his body? Something that, if he wanted to remove, would be just as painful as when it was put on?

And the pain.

Lauren seemed to be handling it fine. She and Jean were even joking back and forth. But Lauren could probably handle pain more than Kurt.

But the word "courage" was much smaller than her tattoo. It wouldn't take as long, though the wrist was no doubt more painful than the shoulder.

In a way, maybe the pain would be worth it.

Kurt closed his eyes and thought back to all the times when he'd wished he'd had courage the face things. That had been painful, certainly. The pain of knowing that he wasn't doing something he should, or the pain of withstanding the bullying he'd faced. Even facing up to his bullies had been painful. Following through with courage, that was painful, too. It could hurt.

But it was worth it.

Kurt's wrist started to itch, the skin prickling. It hadn't done that in over a year. Not since his low points.

There had been times that Kurt had stared down at his wrists, the skin itching and prickling uncomfortably (just like now), and he'd thought: "Why didn't he just press something sharp against the skin there to stop the itch?"

Those were the lowest points. They'd fled quickly, because Kurt wasn't that big of a coward. He didn't want to be one of the gay teen statistics. He knew that other people felt pain like he did, and he didn't want to make their pain less, but that wasn't for him. He didn't want to cut himself. But the low points -

But a constant reminder on his skin to always have courage? To never sink that low or even consider that sort of action? The thought was just as comforting as the word, painted in such beautiful colors.

Which brought him to the subject of the potential tattoo. Did he want it on his skin forever?

Lauren's tattoo was a part of her life, like singing was to Kurt. So of course she wanted on her body forever. Did Kurt want this word, this art, on him?

The answer was yes, almost right away. The word itself Kurt identified. Paired with the rainbow coloring, it was all that Kurt was. He identified with gay, and he was so proud of that. He was planning on participating in Pride one day and yes, he would put together a fabulous outfit in all the colors of the rainbow when he did.

So this was it. Kurt was suddenly and completely convinced.

He walked back over to Lauren. He looked at her tattoo, which looked almost completed. He waited silently for Jean to finish up and put a bandage over it. Jean looked up at him, smiling. "What do you think? I'm sure she wants some feedback from her friend." His heart beat wildly.

"I love it," he said. "It's really amazing."

"Hell yeah it is," said Lauren. She winced slightly as she stood up, making an effort not to move her arm.

"Actually," said Kurt, pushing through and, not even the least bit ironically, summoning all the courage he had. "I wanted to get a tattoo as well."

"What?"

Kurt looked at Lauren for a moment, a small smile on his face.

"Really now?" asked Jean.

"Yes," he said. He pulled his phone out again and handed it to her. "It's this design. I wanted it on my wrist, about an inch down?"

"Hmmm." Jean looked down at the photo. "The colors and all?"

"Especially the colors." Kurt let out a breath. "It's been an important part of my life lately - can you do it?"

"Actually, Manuel is the best at handwriting tattoos," said Jean. "He's in the back. I'll go get him for you, if that's okay?"

"Yeah, of course."

Jean disappeared in the back, leaving Kurt and Lauren by themselves.

"Okay, when did this happen?" asked Lauren. "When the hell did you decide you wanted a tattoo?"

"Uh, kind of ten minutes ago," said Kurt. "I mean, the design is something I've loved for a while, but it didn't occur to me until just now. I've never really had an opinion either way on tattoos, honestly. But this seems - it seems right."

"Let me see the design," said Lauren. Kurt handed the phone to her and she looked down, taking in the photo. A look of understanding dawned on her. She nodded and handed the phone back. "I can dig that."

"I've never done something like this before," Kurt admitted as he took back his phone and started to fiddle with it. "I mean, I usually plan things more - I'm not this, uh…"

"Spur of the moment?" suggested Lauren.

"Yes," said Kurt.

"I think a bit of spontaneity will be good for you, Hummel," said Lauren, patting him on the back with so much force that he stumbled. She didn't always know her own strength, or maybe knew and purposefully ignored that she knew. "You're an adult now, in New York City and living the life - you should do something crazy once and a while."

Lauren's words made Kurt's heart beat faster. There was no question - he was doing this.

Jean returned, a tall Latino man with her. He leaned over, introducing himself as Manuel. Kurt said his name with a nervous tone.

"First tattoo?" asked Manuel, the right side of his mouth raising up in a smile.

"Both of them," said Jean. "Lauren here just got hers, but like I told you, Kurt wants a handwriting tattoo on his wrist."

"Yes, let me see what you wanted - Jean said you had a photo," said Manuel. Kurt handed the phone over once more. Manuel stared at it for a long moment, nodding. "Let me just do my own sketch of this, Kurt," he said.

Kurt watched as Manuel drew out the mural, a complete replica of the one he passed everyday on his way to school. Then Manuel did another, this time with the colors. He asked if this was what Kurt wanted and he nodded.

"Why don't you sit down," said Manuel. "I'll get all the colors prepped."

Kurt sat and Lauren asked him if he wanted her close. "Maybe for a few minutes when it starts?" asked Kurt. "Like I did for you. Then you can walk around or just sit somewhere."

The preparation was similar to Lauren's. Kurt was nervous, because he knew it would hurt and he still couldn't believe he was doing this. "Which arm?" Manuel asked. Kurt thought about it for a few moments and held out his left. It would be more out of the way when it was healing, after all.

"You ready?" Manuel asked. Kurt nodded. Manuel's gloved hand came out, pressing a little amount of pressure to the sides of Kurt's wrist as he adjusted it out on the table in front of him. Kurt eyed the needle and the ink he'd set out, already curious as to how the red would look on his pale skin.

"Yes," said Kurt.

The first moment the needle touched his skin, Kurt winced. It felt what it was - a needle suddenly pricking out, but over and over again. It was uncomfortable, and a little painful. Mostly, Kurt began to get annoyed with it. Usually you could stop a painful thing from happening, but this was constant. It stung, but mostly, it wasn't absolutely horrible.

After five minutes, Lauren began to drift away from him. Kurt didn't mind. He liked to endure things in silence mostly.

"So, why this tattoo?" asked Manuel. It surprised Kurt that he'd started to talk. He was changing from red to orange now. Manuel smiled. "I like to hear the stories behind tattoos, especially handwriting. I have my own."

"What's yours?"

"Familia. It's on my back. Then I have the names of all my family members under that."

"That's sweet," said Kurt. "I….well, the photo is from this mural. I pass it everyday on my way to school. The first time I saw it, I cried, because - it was exactly what I needed." Kurt's voice had dropped slightly and he followed Manuel's actions as he continued with the tattoo. It didn't even look like he was listening, really, but Kurt was sure he was. He looked completely intent on his worked.

"I haven't been the most courageous person in my life, I don't think," said Kurt. "But with this - I started to feel like I could be, lately. And the fact that it was written in rainbow colors…"

"LGBTQ?" asked Manuel. He paused, looking up with a smile.

Kurt hesitated for a moment. The man was giving him a tattoo, after all, and what if he was just as insensitive as the people he'd grown up with? New York City might have been more accepting on a whole, but there was always the exception.

"Yes," Kurt finally decided. It was probably painfully obvious, after all.

Manuel nodded and leaned back down, continuing with his work. "I thought so. It's a beautiful design. I'm sure the artist would be infinitely proud that someone was putting it on their skin and that he touched you enough for that."

"I would hope so," said Kurt. "I mean, I don't know the artist, obviously. But sometimes - sometimes I feel like maybe I do. I feel so connect to this mural, and the things I feel when I look at it, sometimes I feel like we're the same person." Kurt chuckled, feeling self conscious. He'd never said these things out loud before.

"I understand," said Manuel. "You can become connected to things without any explainable reasoning. Me? I feel connected to someone whenever I give a new tattoo. A person is going to be carrying around what I just put on them for the rest of their life. That can be a heavy feeling, sometimes."

"I'm sure," said Kurt.

"It's just like any other art form," said Manuel. "Sometimes we're just transposing someone else's art, like in this case, other times it's our own unique design. We put our soul into it."

"I feel the same about singing," said Kurt. "It's the best feeling when I can put everything into a song or a performance, leave all other things behind and just get lost in music and words."

"You're a singer?"

"I am. I go to NYADA."

"That's a nice school," he remarked. "This your first year?"

"It is. I can't believe I'm finally in New York. It's where I've always wanted to be. I grew up in Ohio and well, that's why I needed courage in the first place." Kurt laughed with a bitter edge to it. "Being the only out guy in my school wasn't pretty. But being here? It's been so amazing."

"Obviously I've only known you for twenty minutes," said Manuel, a wide grin on his face. "But I think you have more courage than you say you do, Kurt."

Kurt couldn't really come up with a response to that. He wasn't so sure, but then, was getting a tattoo out of the blue courageous or just really stupid?

Manuel was only two letters from the end of the tattoo. The colors did look fantastic, though Kurt's skin was red and inflamed from the needle. He knew that would fade with time and heal, making the tattoo stand out more. Kurt especially liked the blue and the look on his skin.

With the conversation Manuel had provided, Kurt had forgotten about the pain for the most part. It was almost numb to him by now, a dull throbbing on his left arm, though a few times a sharp pain would interrupt and make him wince.

Finally, Manuel finished the 'e' and Kurt looked down in awe.

He had a tattoo.

It was beautiful, so much like the mural was. Each letter of the word twisted into each other, colors fading effortlessly into the next.

"Wow," breathed Kurt. "Thank you."

"It was my pleasure," said Manuel as he began to clean up. He bandaged Kurt's tattoo, but not without taking a quick photo for the wall.

Both Kurt and Lauren paid for their tattoos - Lauren's was a bit more than his, since it was bigger - and Kurt made sure to leave a good tip for Manuel. He was nice, and had done a great job of distracting Kurt from the pain.

He and Lauren walked out of the tiny shop into the brisk air and Kurt was positively vibrating with the adrenaline of what had just happened. His wrist throbbed still, but there was the promise of it being completely healed in two weeks, and the fact that he could carry the reminder of who he was and who he wanted to be around always.

"We need to celebrate," said Kurt. "Let's get something amazing for lunch."

"I hear you," said Lauren.

They celebrated their tattoos with lunch and then grabbed coffee to go, parting ways to go to their own apartments. Kurt walked into his front door, humming absently and taking the last sip to his non fat mocha.

"How did Lauren's tattoo go?" asked Rachel from her spot on the living room couch.

Kurt stopped in his tracks, a burst of fear running through his veins.

He hadn't even thought about Rachel.

"Uh…."

"What? Did she chicken out?"

Kurt snorted. "It's Lauren."

"True," said Rachel, smiling up from her book. Kurt began to take his scarf and coat off, wondering how to tell Rachel that not only had Lauren gotten a tattoo, but so had he. Then Rachel's eyes dropped from his face to his left arm. Kurt looked down, realizing that the bandage was visible now that his coat wasn't on.

Damn quarter sleeved shirts.

At least he didn't have to tell her.

"Kurt Hummel, you did not."

"I just - I felt like - I really wanted -" Kurt couldn't even begin to verbalize what had happened today. How he knew that he wanted the tattoo in the first place. How he knew that it was what he needed.

"But your acting!" she screeched. "Sometimes tattoos make casting directors look the other direction! Kurt -"

"But it's small," said Kurt. "It can be covered so easily, by make up or a sleeve. It will be fine, Rachel."

"I can't believe," huffed Rachel. "That you got a tattoo and didn't even bring me for moral support."

Well, that was a sudden change of direction.

"Well," said Kurt. "I hadn't planned on it at all. I'm sorry."

Rachel sighed, still eyeing his wrist. "What did you get?"

Kurt wordlessly pulled out his phone and handed it to her. He had also taken a photo of his tattoo before the bandage had gone one. Rachel looked and in a moment the angry lines on her face disappeared, eyes softening. She looked up at her, a small smile forming.

"I think my dads would love to see this one day," she said, handing back the phone. A bigger smile came to Kurt's face. He was glad she approved, for whatever reason.

"I'll have to show it to them next time we're home," he said.

Rachel and Kurt smiled at each other for a long moment. Then Rachel blinked once, a strange expression coming over her face, then she laughed. Hard.

"What?" asked Kurt.

"I wonder what Burt will say," she said with a small giggle.

Kurt's heart jumped and he groaned.

He wasn't looking forward to that conversation in the least.

000000

Kurt's tattoo healed and he ended up telling his father around the time he took the bandage off on their weekly phone calls. Burt, at first, thought he was kidding, but he quickly realized that he wasn't. After that, Burt was mostly confused.

"I never knew you wanted one, kiddo," he said.

"I didn't," said Kurt. "Until I found exactly the thing I wanted." Kurt had described the tattoo to Burt and promised to send a picture of it to Finn's phone so he could in turn show it to Burt (since he had the simplest phone on the market and so no picture messaging). After Kurt had told him about why he wanted it, and what it meant to him, Burt seemed pacified.

"Well," Burt said slowly. "If it's what you wanted - just promise me you won't go out and cover your body in 'em, okay?"

Kurt laughed. "Oh, believe me," said Kurt. "I think this is all I ever want."

So time moved on. Kurt was still learning so much more at NYADA and making more friends. A few ended up coming to lunch and coffee with Lauren a couple times. Rachel, too, seemed to be adjusting to the city with flying colors.

After Kurt's tattoo healed completely, he loved looking down at it. It would catch his eye as he worked, still foreign looking n his body, and he would pause and smile. It was like when he saw the mural day after day on his way to school - it served as a reminder. It was beautiful, and Kurt didn't regret getting it in the least, as he thought he might with such a rash decision.

Kurt only wished that it wasn't the dead of winter in New York. He had to keep it covered at most times with a coat or long sleeved shirt. Kurt had always loved this season the most, because his usual layered look was actually quite functional, but now he just wanted to show off his tattoo. He was able to in classes some times, when his coat was off and he pushed up his sleeves for whatever reason, but this was the extent.

It wouldn't be long, however, until he was able to show it off. Wear quarter or short sleeved shirts and wear the tattoo with pride, like he wanted to.

It was the second week of November that Kurt trudged into his and Lauren's usual coffee shop, coat wrapped around himself. He looked around the shop, frowning when he didn't see Lauren. Her class got out ten minutes before his own and she was always here before him.

Kurt texted her as he got into line, asking where she was. He got the answer a few seconds later.

Sorry bro - I have to stay late to edit. See you tomorrow.

Kurt frowned at his phone and sighed, pocketing it after a moment. He'd wanted to tell Lauren what had happened in his class today. Well, he'd just get his coffee, warm up a bit, and continue home early.

After a few moments, Kurt stepped up to order. "A granda non fat mocha?" he said, digging into his jeans for his wallet.

"Don't bother," said the barista. "The guy in front of you said he would cover your drink." She was smiling at him, eyes sparkling.

"Wait - what?"

"He's right over there," she said, pointing to a table a few feet away. Kurt looked over, still a little surprised. He followed her gaze, eyes falling on a boy around his age. He had dark hair that was styled with gel, a red cardigan on with checkered shirt under it, and a bowtie. He glanced up as Kurt looked over to him and smiled, raising his glass in Kurt's direction. Kurt blushed and turned back to the barista, who had his coffee ready.

"Thank you," he said. She giggled and nodded.

Kurt stepped out of line, not sure what to do. Should he leave? Go over and say thank you? Sit down with the boy?

Finally, Kurt pushed himself to go over to the boy - he was cute. And damn if he didn't have the courage to flirt with a boy who had just bought him coffee for at least a few minutes.

"Hi," said Kurt as he stepped up to the table. He noticed that the boy had a sketch book on the table in front of him, along with a row of pens and pencils. His coffee was steaming next to a plate of biscotti and one of the big cookies that looked like a Thanksgiving Turkey.

He looked up, a goofy grin on his face. "Hi."

"I just - I wanted to say thanks." Kurt awkwardly lifted his cup for a moment. "I don't know why you did it, though. Buy my coffee."

"I heard you sigh behind me," said the boy. "And looked to see you staring at your phone like it personally offended you. You looked sad. I wanted to make your day better." He shrugged.

"Oh," said Kurt, blinking at him. "I - thank you. Again. My friend sort of bailed on me."

"Would you like to sit with me?" asked the boy after a moment of hesitation. He looked nervous for the first moment since the beginning of their conversation.

"I don't want to interrupt -"

"It's not interrupting," said the boy. "I can't draw until I've finished my food, after all, so I'd love to chat for a while." He smiled. "I'm having a bit of artist block anyway."

"Oh." Kurt paused for a moment, then he pulled the chair out across from the boy.

"I'm Blaine, by the way," he said, holding out his hand for Kurt.

Kurt wanted to laugh, because really, who their age held out a hand to shake when they first met? Instead he smiled and held out his own hand. Blaine's hand was rough and still a little cold from outside. "Kurt."

"It's nice to meet you," said Blaine. He reached for his biscotti, dipping it in his coffee before taking a small bite. "Did your friend give a reason for bailing?" he asked, mouth a little full.

Kurt sighed. "She's a film student. Had to do some editing for something. Probably the project she's been talking about non-stop. It's okay. I was just going to go home and maybe get some work done."

Blaine smiled. "I should get work done, too. But like I said - block."

"I didn't know that you could get, uh, drawing block. I've heard of writer's block."

"Oh yes," said Blaine. "It's a sickness."

Kurt laughed, then looked down at his coffee.

"Would you like to split my cookie?"

"What?" he asked, looking up. Blaine had pushed the plate toward him.

"Well, the biscotti is what I always get, but then the cookie looked so good," said Blaine. "But then I sat down and realized that I ordered way too much. And dinner is in just a few hours." He laughed.

"I - I don't want to -"

"Kurt," said Blaine, tone serious. "Really. It's fine."

"I guess," said Kurt finally. "If it's just going to go to waste if I don't." The smile on Blaine's face shouldn't have pleased Kurt as much as it did in that moment.

They sat for a few silent moments as Kurt broke off a piece of the cookie and began to eat. His eyes drifted down Blaine's form, studying him. Then Blaine's eyes came up from his plate, meeting Kurt's, and he blushed.

"So," said Kurt in a rush. "You're an artist? Are you any good?"

Kurt wanted to face palm. God, that was so stupid.

"I mean - I'm sure you are - I just mean - uh -"

Blaine was laughing. "Kurt, it's okay." Then he shrugged. "I don't know. I'm in art school right now. So I guess I'm okay, then?"

"Well," said Kurt. "I'm sure you're great. I would ask to see your stuff, but I did just meet you and don't want to seem rude."

Blaine was still smiling, looking at him with an almost fond expression. His eyes sparkled with mirth and again, Kurt didn't know why he liked that he'd caused this reaction.

"I usually don't show my art readily," said Blaine with a nod. "I'm a little shy with some stuff. I'm trying to get better at it, honest." He laughed, looking down at his coffee as he stirred in another biscotti. He shrugged again - it must be a nervous habit - and looked up. "Maybe after we've known each other longer."

"Oh, 'known each other longer', then," said Kurt with a mischievous tone. "There will be more of these interactions, then?"

Blaine's eyes widened and his expression fell. "I just - oh god, I didn't mean to like, insinuate that - I just -"

"I'm sorry," said Kurt. "I didn't mean to freak you out. I just -" Kurt paused, trying to search for the right words. "I don't usually do this."

"Do what?" asked Blaine.

"Chat up guys in a coffee shop," said Kurt, embarrassed. "Or get coffee bought for. Or strike up conversations with complete strangers that make me want to have more with them."

The right edge of Blaine's mouth started to rise. "So you do want to have more?"

"Yes," said Kurt. Then he paused, taking in Blaine's full grin. "Wait - you tricked me."

"I did." Blaine looked pleased with himself. He chuckled and then brought his arm up to rest his chin on his hand. "Look, Kurt, I have known you for all of five minutes and I really like you. I mean, anyone who dresses like you can only be an interesting person to be around."

Kurt was glad he had slipped on his purple and black striped trench coat with the metal straps on it this morning.

"Well," said Kurt, basking in the praise. "Thank you. You seem like a very nice guy as well."

"Since we're in agreement," said Blaine with mirth. "Then why don't wet get to know each other a bit more? You know I got to art school, what about you?"

"I go to NYADA," said Kurt. The usual gushing tone he always seemed to get when talking about NYADA and school seeped into his voice. "It's amazing."

"So you're a singer?" asked Blaine. He looked even more interested, if possible. "I am too - though I ended up choosing art more than anything. I still am part of my choir at school, though."

"I am," said Kurt. "It's - it's all I ever wanted to be." He paused. "Well, except maybe taking a break after I win a few Tony Awards to start designing for Lady Gaga and the next Broadway revival of The Sound of Music." Blaine laughed. "I just really love to get on stage and sing my heart out," admitted Kurt. "And now that I'm finally in New York City, living out my dreams? It's amazing. I'm just really, honestly happy to be out of my home town. Though I miss my family."

Blaine was nodded as he spoke. "I understand. I just moved here a few months ago for school as well. It was amazing to get out of Ohio - it was so stifling, I felt like I couldn't breathe sometimes."

"Wait - Ohio?"

"Yes."

"I'm from Ohio."

Blaine blinked at him in shock for a long moment. "Wait - what?"

Kurt laughed. "Are you saying that both of us came from Ohio, wanting to come out to New York to fulfill our dreams?" Kurt rolled his eyes. "Here I thought I was unique."

"Hey now," said Blaine. "But yeah - I really am from Ohio. Wow. What part?"

"Lima," said Kurt.

"Westerville," said Blaine. "Oh wow - that's two hours away, isn't it?"

"It is," said Kurt, voice tinged with awe. "Wow. And we met in New York City of all places?"

"Must be fate," said Blaine cheekily. Kurt rolled his eyes.

"But we never crossed paths," said Kurt. "Strange."

"So," said Blaine. "You said you love it in New York already - now that I know you're from Ohio, I can definitely say I agree." He laughed.

"And what you said about Ohio being stifling - so true," said Kurt. "I mean, I couldn't truly be myself in high school. People hated me."

Blaine nodded, a sad expression on his face. "I can understand that. I ended up going to a private school, but I did start out in a public school and - well, kids can be cruel, especially when their ignorant parents are the ones that shape their thoughts."

Kurt nodded, giving Blaine another once over. "If you don't mind me asking," he said after a moment of deliberation. "Are you…gay?"

Blaine chuckled and for a moment, Kurt thought maybe he had gotten it wrong. "I am," he finally said, letting Kurt breathe again. "That's why - well, that's why New York has been pretty amazing so far. A lot more people willing to accept all sorts of people."

"I completely understand," said Kurt.

"So," said Blaine. "Tell me more about NYADA."

So they talked. About NYADA, about the art program Blaine was enrolled in. Kurt told him about his favorite classes, and favorite songs, and Blaine said he loved to paint the most, but that he really loved to sketch if nothing else. They realized they had a lot of the same tastes in music, gushing over this musical or that.

" - I don't care what you say, Katy Perry is not that much of a visionary."

"But Kurt - she is -"

"Hold that thought."

Kurt's phone was vibrating across the table and he picked it up, noting that Rachel was calling him.

"Hello?" he said.

"Where are you?"

"At the coffee shop," said Kurt, as if it was obvious. He almost always came here after classes to talk to Lauren.

"It's almost dinner, Kurt!"

"Oh my god - what?" Kurt pulled the phone away for a moment, looking down at the time. He and Blaine had been talking for almost an hour. He put the phone back up to his ear, a little surprised. "I'm so sorry, Rachel. I just - I got caught up and lost track of time. I'll be back soon. I can even pick up something. Your favorite Italian place, maybe?"

Rachel seemed mollified by the lure of that, and forgave him. He hung up and shook his head. "We've been talking for an hour," he said. "I should have left a while ago."

"Oh wow," said Blaine. "I'm sorry for keeping you like that."

"No, it was great, really," said Kurt, hoping to let his sincerity get across. "I really, really liked talking to you."

"Me, too," said Blaine with a soft grin. "Can I - can I have your number? Maybe we can meet up again. Chat more. Continue the Lady Gaga verus Katy Perry debate?"

"Like there is any real competition," said Kurt automatically, but he handed over his phone and accepted Blaine's. After he ended his phone number the switched back again and he rose from his chair, fixing his bag on his shoulder. "I guess - I guess I'll see you around," he said. He didn't want to leave, he realized.

"Yes," said Blaine. "Completely."

Kurt left the coffee shop, suddenly feeling lighter. He couldn't explain why, really, but talking to Blaine was the high light of his week.

Fic: Painted on my Skin (Part 2)

Kid!Klaine

After that day, Kurt ended up texting Blaine, after a lot of debate. It ended up that Blaine was the first to text Kurt, just after he'd gotten back home with Italian.

I hope I didn't get you in too much trouble.

Kurt smiled and texted him back.

Of course not. I bribed my roommate with vegan friendly Italian and she's forgotten it already. ;)

Well I'm glad. Talk to you later, Kurt!

Lauren began to have to stay after for her classes to get this short movie done, so it created more opportunities to talk to Blaine. Kurt found him there the next day after his class, bent low over his sketch pad and scribbling away fiercely. Kurt got his coffee and approached him.

"Looks like that artist block is gone," said Kurt.

Blaine looked up, a little startled, then smiled at Kurt. "Yeah," he said with a laugh. "A rush of inspiration hit me earlier today. I've gone through a few pages already."

"I'm guessing I still can't see it yet," teased Kurt.

"It's a work in progress - of course not!"

Kurt laughed and sat down, smiling over at him. "I'm glad you have your uh, drawing mojo back then."

"Thank you, Kurt," said Blaine sincerely.

The easy conversation they had found yesterday was just as easy to slip into today. Kurt found that he was able to talk to Blaine just as much as he would Rachel, or even Lauren.

" - and today in my class, I swear, my professor was about to kill this one girl," said Kurt. "She is this huge diva, and since most of the people at NYADA are all divas, that's really saying something, you know? God, it made me feel like I had gone back in time to when I was in the early days of Glee club."

Blaine's eyebrows rose. "You were in Glee club?" he asked. "So was I!"

"No way," laughed Kurt. "We were the New Directions."

"Oh - oh!" Blaine laughed after a look of recognition came over his face. "Weren't you that glee club whose leads kissed on stage during Nationals two years ago? Like - for an uncomfortable amount of time?"

Kurt rolled his eyes. "Yes. That was my step brother and my roommate Rachel. Seriously - they deserved all those hate comments on the YouTube video."

"Wow," laughed Blaine shaking his head. "I have to say - I'm glad the Warblers never had to face off against you guys. You really were talented."

"I wonder why we didn't," said Kurt. "Being two hours away?"

"Well the competitions for Sectionals are just luck of the draw selections," shrugged Blaine. "We were up against Vocal Adrenaline most every year, sadly, except for my senior year. That year we were able to get passed Sectionals, but didn't win our Regionals."

"Vocal Adrenaline sucks," said Kurt.

Blaine lifted his coffee. "Here here!" Kurt laughed, raising his glass and toasting to this.

They talked more, burning through topics, though this time Kurt kept an eye on the clock. He left in time to get home for dinner, where he told Rachel he'd cook, because it was his turn last night. He hummed as he cooked, dancing over to the refrigerator to get more supplies.

"You seem happy," said Rachel when she walked into the kitchen. She danced over to him and he reached out to spin her. She giggled.

"I am," he chirped.

"You met a boy!"

Kurt stumbled, almost dropping the butter in his hand.

"What?"

"You met a boy - that's why you're so happy!" She was jumping up and down, her smile taking up most of her face. "Spill!"

"I didn't - I mean, yes I did meet a boy but -"

"I knew it! What's his name? Is he cute?"

" - but he's just a friend," said Kurt. "I met him at the coffee shop yesterday and we talked. He's really nice. And yes, he is cute. But we're just - I only just met him, Rachel."

"But he's gay, isn't he?" Rachel wasn't giving up on this.

"Yes, he is."

"Well then," said Rachel, her smile still in full effect. "There is still hope for when you two haven't just met, isn't there?" She winked at him and Kurt moved his hips to bump her so she stumbled a bit, still giggling.

00000

" - so do you think I should go with 'Popular' from Wicked, or maybe something more show stopping, like a Whitney song? Or I know - Mariah!"

"Well if you want something that's more on the showy side, definitely go with 'Popular', but Whitney definitely has her appeal," said Blaine after a moment of thoughtfulness. "Can you really pull of those notes, though?"

"Of course I can," said Kurt proudly. "Really, I was born to sing female songs. It's sort of my thing." Blaine laughed and nodded.

Kurt reached out and picked up his coffee and took a thoughtful sip as he looked over to study Blaine. He was leaning back in the cushy chair - they had moved over away from the formal tables today in the coffee shop in favor of the chairs and couches - his leg cross and sketch pad balanced on his knee and thigh. Every so often in their conversation he would lean down and Kurt could hear his pencil scratching against the rough paper. Then he would stop, looking back up at Kurt with a smile.

"You know," said Kurt and Blaine looked up again, pencil still poised. "I still haven't seen any of your drawings, mister. I'm starting to think you just use this artist thing as rouse. After all, you don't exactly have the artist image."

"What do you mean by that?" asked Blaine, his nose crinkling in an adorable way that Kurt tried not to notice. He had accepted that, despite what he had thought were flirty beginnings, they were friends. After nearly three weeks of this friendship, it was obvious that was what it was going to stay.

"Well you wear cardigans and bowties and sweater vests," said Kurt. "And you gel your hair, and wear loafers, Blaine. And those boat shoes. When someone thinks of an art student, they think of - I don't know - dreadlocks, ripped jeans and converse."

"I resent that generalization," said Blaine, though he didn't seem too offended. He still had the carefree smile on his face, if that was any indication. "You should know better, Mr. Hummel."

Kurt rolled his eyes. "Yes, yes, I'm just teasing. But really - I still haven't seen your art, thank you for your stalling techniques."

"Oh wow, it's that obvious, isn't it?" joked Blaine. He shrugged. "You know, I haven't heard you sing, either. For all I know, we're both lying about our artistic fortes."

"Well I can't exactly burst out into song in this café without becoming a bad high school musical scene," Kurt pointed out. "You, on the other hand, only need to turn that sketch pad around. And for further reference - you can come to my winter recital and you can hear me sing. Everyone actually gets either a whole solo, duet, or a part in the group number. Coming from the New Directions, I was shocked that someone wasn't going to hog all of the spotlight."

"What are you going to be singing?" asked Blaine.

"Not sure as of yet," said Kurt with a shrug. "I audition tomorrow. Though I'm aiming for at least a duet, if not a solo. There are only two, and I want one."

"I'm sure you'll be brilliant."

"You haven't heard me sing, as you said, so you have no idea how amazing I am - though I assure you, I am - so it is quite hard to believe your opinion on the matter."

This time Blaine rolled his eyes. "Yeah, yeah. I'm positive you have talent coming off you in waves, Kurt. I just am."

Kurt looked down, a little taken back by the sudden and intense praise. Especially because he hadn't actually done anything to earn it just yet. "Thank you. And that's the same way I know you must be a talented artist."

Blaine's eyes softened and he ducked his head. "That's sweet of you," he said, voice quiet. He paused for a moment, eyes drifting down to his sketch book. He sighed heavily and sat his pencil down on the bag next to him, scooting up in his chair and clutching at his sketch book. "Since I'll be seeing you sing in a few weeks, I guess it only is fair that I show you something, too. But to be completely fair, I only just started it when we sat down like, thirty minutes ago, so it's not perfect."

"Wait, are you really going to show me?" asked Kurt, sitting up straighter in his chair. His heart started to beat faster, for some reason.

"Yeah," said Blaine, a nervous laugh bubbling up. This touched Kurt more than he thought - because Blaine was still nervous, and yet willing to show him his art.

"Should you, uh, sit next to me?" asked Kurt. He patted the couch, suddenly feeling like an idiot as he did.

Blaine blinked, then nodded. "Yeah. That - that sounds like a good idea." He rose to his feet and walked over, sitting next to Kurt. The sketch pad was still turned away from Kurt. He looked over. "If you hate it, I swear to never draw anything like this again. I swear."

"I'm sure it's lovely," said Kurt.

Blaine smiled weakly and finally turned the sketch book over to Kurt.

Kurt's breath caught.

It was him.

It was like seeing himself from Blaine's perspective, sitting across from him as he had been up until moments ago. He was sitting on the couch, part of it still unfinished, his coffee in one hand and a look of enthusiasm that had been captured on the paper. Though Blaine said he had only started it as long as they had been sitting there, there was so much detail. Kurt's eyes had depth, even on the paper, and there were laugh lines around his eyes - everything but his outfit was really flushed out with details, really.

"Oh god, is it horrible?"

Kurt was startled by Blaine's voice. He looked over to him, blinking for the first time. Blaine looked anxious.

"I really don't like showing people the drawings I've done of them," said Blaine. "Usually you don't have to with the models in class, so it's all good - but you did insist, so - I just -"

"Blaine, stop," said Kurt. He reached out and put his hand on Blaine's before he had really thought through the action. It seemed natural, though, once their skin was resting up against each other's. "Really - I can't - this is beautiful."

That made Blaine stop in his worrying, eyebrows raised in surprised and his mouth slightly open. "Oh. Wait - really?"

Kurt laughed. "Of course. I can't believe - look at me. I mean, it's amazing how much you've captured. I've never looked so good," he joked, nudging Blaine's shoulder. Blaine laughed. Kurt grew a bit serious. "Really, Blaine. You're really talented. I didn't even expect this."

A blush was rising on Blaine's cheeks. "Well, thank you. Live drawing is one of my favorite things."

"Can - can I see more?"

It seemed that the wall had broken down, because Blaine seemed excited as he flipped through his sketch book, settling on a page filled with a few drawings of different times of dogs. "There was this dog walker," he explained in an excited rush. "And she had eight dogs pulling her along and she seemed completely in control. Not like in the movies or something. They were amazing and I sort of took a mental picture until I could sit down and draw a few. I sort of named them," he said, embarrassed. He pointed to each and the names were written just next to them.

"That's amazing," Kurt breathed.

"And besides life drawing," said Blaine, still breathless from excitement. "I like word design." He flipped to a page with the word "love" drawn in an intricate design. The lines swirled and connected to each other so many times, Kurt could barely keep track.

"Oh my god," said Kurt. "How do you do that?"

"A lot of practice doodling all over my page in math class," laughed Blaine. "I would just pick a random word and start making different designs for it - backwards, forwards, sideways - whatever. It's fun."

"It's amazing," said Kurt, feeling like he was being redundant, but not knowing what else to say. "More?"

Blaine laughed and nodded. He began to turn the page, to what looked like a lesbian couple sitting in Central Park, their heads leaning against each other, when he paused. He looked over to Kurt and they locked eyes. "I'm - I'm glad you like it, Kurt," he said, voice low. His eyes open so Kurt felt like he could feel everything Blaine was.

"I do," he said, his voice full of sincerity.

Blaine's smile was practically blinding and he turned back to his sketch, describing how he had been walking through the park last weekend when he'd seen Diane and Ronnie and asked them if they would mind being his model for a bit. "They were so nice," gushed Blaine. "They've been together for five years and they are the most adorable things in the world. I was embarrassed when I showed them the drawing, but they liked it and I was so glad. You should have seen the light coming off of them when I was sketching - it was the perfect atmosphere to draw."

Kurt nodded and listened, finding it adorable that Blaine talked about his art how Kurt talked about his singing. It was a passion. It was something Kurt had noticed before, whenever he talked about a painting class or something when they met, but now that he saw the result of that passion - it was beautiful.

Blaine flipped through more pages. This sketch book was only from as far back as two weeks ago, since Blaine admitted he went through a lot. There were more of people, mostly the models that came into his drawing class. A few were of nude women, when Blaine tinged pink at. "It's actually funny," he said nervously. "When they come in, most everyone is pretty professional about it, but I notice that some of the guys get distracted. I don't have that problem, which is good." Kurt rolled his eyes. Others were pages filled with words and lyrics that Blaine liked, designed all sorts of different ways. A few of those actually looked vaguely familiar to Kurt. Blaine's handwriting - though Kurt noticed it changed often to whatever he was designing - and his true handwriting was a cross between cursive and print that was his signature at the bottom of the pages, must have been similar to someone else that Kurt knew, because it tugged at his memory.

"You're amazing, Blaine," Kurt said when they were finally done. Blaine tried to reply with something humble, but Kurt wouldn't hear it. "Really. It's so fantastic. I can see how much you love you art, Blaine, and I'm sure with your talent you can do so much."

"Thank you," said Blaine, still a bit awed by the whole thing. "And I'm looking forward to your end of this exchange - I can't wait for your Winter recital."

"I'll make sure to do well in my audition so you actually have something exciting to see," said Kurt.

"I'd be happy just to see you sing one line," said Blaine. His words make Kurt's stomach jump and he realized just how close they were at the moment. He cleared his throat, pulling back and reaching for his coffee - deflecting.

"I better get home and get it all in order, then," he said, voice high. He took a moment to look over to Blaine again, still sitting. "Thank you, again, for sharing your art with me."

Blaine smiled. "It was my pleasure."

00000

Despite it all, Kurt is nervous for his audition. He felt the same way he did when auditioned for NYADA in the first place. But then, he'd nailed that, after getting off on the wrong foot and changed his song at the last minute to the more controversial number he had up his sleeves that Rachel had warned him against.

Kurt remembered this and tried to keep his nerves at bay - but in the end, he walked on stage still slightly nervous.

He does what he thinks is an amazing rendition of the Christmas song he'd finally selected for the audition, "Have Yourself a Merry Christmas" and walks off, hoping for the best.

The next day the list of all their parts are handed out in voice class. Because he'd been so used to it in previous years, his eyes go to the group numbers to find his name, but he finds nothing. Daring to hope, his eyes move up to the duets, and still nothing. Giddily, he moves up to the two solo spots and there is his name.

White Christmas by Kurt Hummel

He's just after Michelle, a tall girl with honey colored skin, who will be singing "All I Want for Christmas is You" and she smiles at him from across the room. He can't help but think about when Mercedes sang it during their senior year and thinks she might have a lot to live up to, but then, her voice is stellar.

He can't really help it. He ends up punching the air silently - his friends around him giggle at him - and he blushes. They congratulate him, though.

Their professor explains that he will work with the soloists and the four people doing duets separately, and that they are only going to be working on the two group numbers - one at the beginning of the concert and the other at the end - in class. He gets them working on the first, "Deck The Rooftops", right away.

After the class period the have the number near perfect they are dismissed and Kurt curses the fact that he's going to have Christmas music stuck in his head already.

He hurries to the coffee shop, though he's meeting Lauren and not Blaine today, since Blaine has a class late on Tuesdays. He bursts out with his news the moment he sees her.

"I got the solo!"

"Good for you, twinkle toes," said Lauren with a nod and he accepts this as the biggest compliment. He quickly learned that Lauren's nicknames come from a place of endearment, almost similar to Sue's nickname for him.

"I can't believe it," he gushed.

"I can. You're probably the most talented guy in that place," said Lauren. "They'd be crazy not to give you a solo."

"I'm just not used to it," Kurt admitted. "I'm always getting passed over for solos, given my voice."

"Well welcome to New York City, where they don't care," said Lauren, holding up her cup for a toast. Kurt laughed and raised his own to meet hers.

Later on when Kurt is home, he tells Rachel about his solo and she screams. She's already giving him pointers as she insists they go out to dinner to celebrate. When she's getting ready he texts Blaine, telling him about the solo. He gets a reply just as they're slipping into the taxi.

I knew it! I can't wait to see how amazing you are.

Somehow, this only makes Kurt's mood better.

00000

Over the next week and a half Kurt has more practices scheduled both privately with his voice professor, and with Michelle, the other soloist. They take turns rehearsing their solos, with their teacher giving pointers and giving each other someone else to be in front of for nerves. Kurt is feeling increasingly more confident in his song, though every time Blaine mentions he is going to be there that night, he grows a little bit more nervous.

Kurt doesn't know why. He's never been this nervous for anything, bar his NYADA audition and tanking on his "Defying Gravity" note. He loves the stage and having an audience. He welcomes strangers to see him sing and perform. Why is one boy making his stomach fill with butterflies whenever he thinks about him finally hearing him sing for the first time?

He wonders if this was how Blaine felt when showing Kurt his drawings. He'd certainly seemed nervous at the time. Though really, Blaine mentioned that was a usual thing for him and his art. He'd explained it, once.

"I'm not nervous when I sing at all," Blaine had said. "I had a job at Six Flags for two summers and I was performing in front of crowd after crowd. But singing, it's not personal to me, I guess. My art is. My art is like - it's a part of me and my soul and my heart. It's my innermost thoughts and feelings. It took me a long time to show it to anyone." Blaine shook his head. "But after a while, I realized that this, more than singing, was what I wanted to share with the world. So I needed to get over the fear. My teachers this year have really helped me, especially this one that assigned this huge project the first week of classes, that was about laying your work out for everyone to see. I did it, and since then, I have gotten better. But showing my art to others is still like showing them my soul and suddenly I feel naked and vulnerable. It's silly."

Kurt had told him it wasn't silly. It was natural.

Maybe this was natural, then. Showing someone close to you something that was so close to you, in Kurt's case his singing, was big.

So that's what it was for Kurt. Necessary nerves that he couldn't get over. They lasted up until the day that his Winter Concert was and he was backstage, nervously wringing his fingers. Rachel had texted him thirty minutes ago, telling him that she and Lauren had (grudgingly) met up and gotten seats together. They were also to look out for Blaine. Blaine had met Lauren before, so if he spotted her, they should be able to sit together, but Kurt had buried his phone in his bag before she'd been able to get back to him if he'd shown up already.

After a quick show circle, it was all out of his hands. He pulled at his sweater as they all filtered on stage for their first group number. After that, Kurt's blood was pounding in his ears and he was beyond excited for his solo. It all reminded him so much of his competitions with New Directions - just a group of singers doing something they all loved and having fun.

Michelle was the first duet, and she really did kill it. He could hear the screams for her as she skipped off stage, shaking slightly. Then the first duet couple went on, singing a cute "Let it Snow" rendition.

Then it was Kurt's turn.

He walked on stage, the slow instrumentals building as he made it to center stage and began to sing. He loved the arrangement his professor had made for him, because it was able to dip into both some low registers and hit a few high notes.

After he finished, Kurt was blown back by the thundering applause that seemed to echo in his bones. He grinned out at the audience he couldn't see and bowed low before going off stage as the next duet pair walked on. He felt like he was floating as he went off stage and honestly didn't even recall the duet at all. He only became more aware of what was going on around him as he went onstage once more with everyone for their closing number. Then there were bows, one separate for him due to his solo, and the curtains closed.

Everyone congratulated each other on a job well done. From here on, it was a cake walk to Winter Break, seeing as they only had two more days and most midterms and finals were through with.

He went to the dressing rooms, changing out of his costume and into real clothes. Kurt pulled his phone out of his bag, noticing that he had many texts from Rachel. He began to read them as he went out to the front, where they should be waiting for him.

One was saying that Blaine had made it, and that she "highly approved of him since he was so handsome and seemed to have an adequate knowledge of Broadway". Another was telling him that he did amazingly, with lots of caps and exclamation points. One after that, only a few minutes ago, was saying that they were waiting for him in the lobby of the theatre.

He fought through the crowd of other students greeting friends and family, finally spotting Lauren. He did hope that she hadn't killed Rachel yet, and that Blaine had enough sense to sit between them.

"Kurt!" squealed Rachel when she spotted him. In just a moment, he had an arm full of Rachel, squeezing him tightly and telling him how fantastic he was.

"Thank you, Rachel!" he said, feeling like his face could split open, he was smiling so much.

"You did good, killer," said Lauren behind him, though she stayed further back. She wasn't one to do hugs.

Then Kurt's eyes fell on Blaine.

He was smiling, eyes big and full of pride.

"You were just spectacular, Kurt," he said once Rachel had released Kurt. He walked up, pulling Kurt into a hug he didn't quite expect. It wasn't as tight as Rachel's had been, for that Kurt was almost thankful, but it wasn't what Kurt would imagine a friend would give a friend (though that was probably wishful thinking on his part). No matter what kind of hug, it filled Kurt with a pleasantly warm feeling that made his toes tingle. All too soon, Blaine pulled back, his hands still on Kurt's shoulders.

"I am just so blown away," he continued. "I knew you were good, of course, but that was just - wow."

"Thank you," Kurt said softly. "Thank you for coming."

"I wouldn't miss it for the world," he said.

"Come on," said Lauren. "Let's get out of here and get some food."

"To celebrate!" exclaimed Rachel.

00000

Three days later, Kurt was packed up and ready to go to JFK to fly back home with Rachel. He could barely believe that he had only been in New York for a handful of months, that he had survived his first semester in college - and got a tattoo of all things. Really, it feels like a lifetime since Kurt had first come to New York to start the new chapter of his life.

Now, though, there was Christmas with his family to look forward to. He hadn't went home for Thanksgiving, since they couldn't find the sense in spending so much money to come home for a few days to only come back for Christmas break a few weeks later. He missed them, despite how much he loved being in the city and living on his own, after getting used to it.

Not only was Kurt looking forward to spending time with a few of his friends still in Lima, or coming back for the holiday, and seeing his family, but Blaine was also going back home for the break. That meant he would still be close. In the most bizarre way, Kurt was dreading not being able to see him everyday. They still probably wouldn't, but he was coming over for dinner a few days before Christmas at his family's house.

That would certainly be interesting.

He and Rachel had a late flight that night and when they finally had gotten though security and the way in their terminal and were on the plane at last, Rachel quickly curled up (damn her and her short stature) and rested her head against his shoulder to sleep. Kurt tried sleep, too, but he mostly just closed his eyes and listened to his music on his iPhone.

Later, he and Rachel made it off the plane, sleepy as they walked to baggage claim to meet their families. Burt was the first to make it to Kurt, hugging him tightly. Rachel's dads were there as well, twirling her around as soon as they could. Carole and Finn weren't there, since Carole had work in the morning and Finn was more than likely dead to the world in his comfy bed.

Kurt and Rachel parted, both secretly happy to get a few days away from each other, since living together at all times of the day could get a bit strained. Kurt let his dad handle one of his bags on the way up to his room, then quickly changed after he left and fell into his old bed, noting how strange it felt now to be back before sleep claimed him.

00000

The next morning at breakfast, the first thing Finn asked him - no greeting whatsoever - was to see his tattoo in the flesh "just to make sure you weren't just pulling our leg." Kurt groans and thrusts his hand toward Finn. He looks down, eyes widening. Even his father, sitting next to Finn, glances over.

"I can't believe you actually got a tattoo, man," said Finn, voice awed. "Did it hurt a lot?"

Kurt shrugged and began to look through the cabinets for oatmeal and brown sugar. "It did a little. The person giving it distracted me by talking, though. It wasn't so bad."

It seems like everyone who he hasn't seen since leaving for college wants to see his tattoo. Mercedes, who comes to town the next day for the holidays, can't get over it at all. When he hangs out with Tina, Artie and Brittany, who are all still going to McKinley this year, are also intrigued by it. Although Brittany thinks he wrote on his skin in crayon. Puck says he's a badass for getting one, when he's over at his house one day hanging out with Finn, and Joe, the new boy from last year, gives him a look of approval, seeing as he has tattoos himself. They even go ahead and compare stories about getting the tattoos and the stories behind them - though all of Joe's are Bible quotes and Kurt feigns interest.

By the fifth day in town, he's sick of it. Showing off his tattoo to people he didn't know before he didn't have one will probably be great, but right now, he's annoyed at having to roll up his sleeve so often to show his gawking friends.

The days on break pass by quickly and the excitement of Christmas grows. He's also getting more and more excited about Blaine coming over to his house for dinner.

They had been texting ever since Kurt left New York. Blaine followed the next day to come home himself, and even though they both wanted to get together since, neither have been able to pull away from their families. Finally, though, it's just three days before Christmas and Blaine is coming over.

"So, is this like, your boyfriend?" asked Finn as he hung around the kitchen watching Kurt prepare the salad and Carole pulling food out of the oven.

Kurt sighed and shook his head. He saw Burt look up, eyes narrowing, out of the corner of his eyes. Honestly. "No, Finn, he is a friend who is gay. He and I spend a lot of time together in New York. And don't you dare say anything embarrassing. In fact - it would be safe of you to say nothing at all." Finn grumbles.

Rachel gets there first, at least thirty minutes before they eat, so she can cuddle with Finn on the couch. Then five minutes before 6:30 the doorbell rings and Kurt lets in Blaine, who looks relaxed and quite festive in his red sweater vest and bowtie with what looks like Christmas trees on it.

"Kurt!" he said as soon as Kurt opened the door. He steps forward, pulling Kurt into a hug and it's all Kurt can do to keep himself together. They're laughing and catching up, though they'd just talked to each other an hour or so ago at the most. Kurt introduces Blaine to everyone, his nerves and excitement mixing.

"You have a lovely home," he said, sounding every bit like that date you wish to bring home to your parents.

"Thanks, kid," said Burt as they sit down to eat. Finn is already loading up his plate to the max, as Rachel takes the vegan friendly platters she had brought over herself.

The conversation seems to flow easily. Rachel asks Blaine about his high school life, since they hadn't gotten to talk that much at Kurt's concert. Once he mentions being in Glee club, it's all over. She takes up most of conversation after that, until she finally takes a bit of her salad and Kurt steers the topics in other places, like Blaine's artwork.

"I love it so much," said Blaine, after Kurt begins the topic.

"What do you do? Sculpture? Drawing?" asked Carole.

"Drawing and design," said Blaine. "I'm already preparing for a gallery that the school has at the end of the school year, where everyone has a bit of wall space to show off their work. I can't decide what I'll even begin to put up that is good enough."

"You'll find something," said Kurt.

After that, Burt begins rapid fire questions that sound too much like an interrogation to Kurt, but are probably polite to people who don't know him as much as Kurt does. Burt asks about his family, why it choose New York for school, friends - stuff like that. Then -

"So, kid, you have any tattoos?"

"Dad."

"I don't, sir," said Blaine. He's smiling with amusement over his plate. He probably thought that Burt was asking the question to see if he was some kind of delinquent. "I guess I'm a little too chicken."

"If Kurt can get one, you could I'm sure," said Finn.

"Ignoring that rude comment now," Kurt snapped. "And moving on -"

"You have a tattoo?" said Blaine, voice full of surprise as he looked over to Kurt. "Wow - can I see?"

"No. We are moving on. Dad, please, bore us to death with football or something."

Burt chuckles, but brings up a game that both Finn and Blaine had interest in and that moves the conversation away from Kurt's tattoo. Really, he's tired of showing it to nosy people.

After dinner and spending some time in the living room together, Finn, Rachel, Blaine and Kurt all decide to go out and get some ice cream - though it's winter and freezing. They goof off at "A Scoop Above" for at least an hour before Blaine admits he needs to head back home.

"I'll see you back in New York, if we can't get back together until then," said Blaine as they all stand. He hugs Rachel, "bro fists" with Finn, then hugs Kurt. "Bye!"

Rachel looks after Blaine with a thoughtful expression before turning back to Kurt. "He's cute, charming, talented and gay - Kurt, really, if you don't start dating him, he's going to get taken."

Kurt doesn't respond. He looks down at his empty bowl of ice cream, frowning.

Because she's right.

00000

"I missed the city so much," sighed Kurt when he sits down in front of Lauren, handing her a cup of coffee and sipping his own. He moans. "Even the coffee is better here."

"That's why I didn't leave," said Lauren.

"That and you have a job and couldn't get off," said Kurt. "And your parents decided that Paris is lovely this time of year and took off."

"That too."

Kurt laughs and shakes his head. "I missed you, actually. It would have been great to hang out in Lima."

"Eh, Lima is snoresville - hanging out with me in New York is by far superior." She takes another sip of her coffee. "So did you and lover boy meet up?"

"His name is Blaine and yes, he came over to dinner."

"You guys make out yet?" asked Lauren. "Because not gonna lie, I want to see you guys get your mack on. It would be totally hot."

"Lauren!" Kurt feels his face grow hot.

"But the blush, I'm gonna guess that's a no." She sighed and shook her head. "Disappointed."

Kurt glares at her, but then hears Blaine call out his name behind him and instantly smiles. He hears Lauren mutter something under her breath - he only catches "sickening" - before Blaine finally comes over and sits down, greeting Lauren as well.

"Isn't it great to be back?" he asked. "There is so much more to draw here - well - things that are more interesting, at least." He laughs.

"I was just telling Lauren. It feels like coming home," he said.

"Too true." Blaine sets his sketchbook down on the table before searching his pockets for his wallet.

It all happens in slow motion.

Lauren grabs Blaine's sketchbook and for a moment, he's too shocked to grab for it. When he does, she easily moves it out of the way.

"Hey -!"

"Oh man, just as I suspected," said Lauren as she begins to flip through the pages.

"Lauren, give Blaine his sketchbook back," said Kurt firmly. He knows Blaine doesn't like sharing work with just anyone and Lauren has already looked through half of it as she flips through the pages.

"Oh man, you don't even know how bad you got it - ether of you." Lauren laughs and finally throws the sketch book on the table, open to a page that actually has a sketch of Kurt on it, his chin leaning up against his hand. "That has like, pages of Kurt in it. Man, you got it bad, art boy."

Kurt looks over to Blaine, who is blushing and scrambling for his sketchbook. He glances up to Kurt, only to look away, cheeks red.

"Look," said Lauren, reaching down to the ground to grab her bag. "It's obvious that you're both lusting after each other and are like, this close to throwing yourselves at the other." She stands and hoists the bag to her shoulder, looking down at Kurt and Blaine, both avoiding each other's eyes and red. "You should really just get on with it and save yourselves so much sexual frustration. Until then - I'm out." She salutes them, grabs her coffee, and turns to leave the coffee shop.

Kurt and Blaine sit in the awkward silence for at least a full minute before finally turning to each other. "She uh, really has some strong ideas about us, doesn't she?" asked Kurt, his hand coming up to trace on the dark wood of the table. He hopes he sounds casual enough.

"Yeah," said Blaine. He is looking down at his sketchbook. He finally looks back up to look at Kurt, expression quizzical. "Look, Kurt, I'm not brave like you. I wish I was, and sometimes I can fake it pretty well, but I'm not."

"I'm not that brave," said Kurt, voice quiet.

"You can do the thing you love without any fear," said Blaine desperately. "You get up on stage with no problem. I'm still terrified of letting people see my art on a constant basis. And you - you could probably talk to the boy you liked and wouldn't hide behind sketchbooks drawing his face instead of actually talking to him about it." Blaine closes his eyes, looking modified at his own words. His jaw clenches and Kurt watches as his grip tightens on his sketchbook.

For a long moment, Kurt tries to get his mind around Blaine's words. That they mean - Blaine likes him. Kurt lets out a shaky breath and stands. Blaine opens his eyes at the sound of the chair scratching on the tile and looks heartbroken.

"No - I'm not leaving," said Kurt in a rush. "I just - I need to show you something. Come with me." He wraps his scarf around his neck one more time.

Blaine nods slowly and stands, grabbing his bag and holding the sketchbook to his chest as he follows Kurt out of the coffee shop. Kurt takes the route that leads to his school and in no time they are at the wall with the mural on it. It's faded since Kurt had first seen it months ago, and more things have been added around it, but it still remains - something that Kurt is thankful for everyday when he passes it.

He turns to face Blaine, who stops suddenly. He's looking down at his feet, away from Kurt, and probably has been most of the walk. Kurt sighs, stepping closer to Blaine and putting his gloved hand on his forearm. He finally looked up at him and away from his feet.

"I wasn't always brave. Like, at all. I felt pretty damn cowardly for most of my life," said Kurt, his throat growing tight. "And the first few days here in New York, I felt the same way. I loved the city, but I was so, so lost." Blaine was staring up at him, eyes wide. "And then I was walking to school for the first day and I took this short cut. I looked up and saw that mural over there, and it hit me." Kurt turned and pointed at the work and Blaine's eyes followed. His eyes widened and his mouth fell open slightly. Kurt knew he had probably had a similar reaction.

"I saw that word, 'Courage', and the rainbow lettering and it was like it was written just for me," said Kurt. "Like someone was grabbing me by the shoulders and telling me that it was going to get better as long as I had the courage to make it that way." Kurt tightened his grip on Blaine's arm. "So all this bravery you think I have - it's not like I'm that kind of person naturally. It takes practice and you, Blaine Anderson, are one of the most amazing people I know. I know you're brave. I know you have courage. I know you could show your art to a million people one day and not bat an eye lid if you just tried."

Blaine was still staring at the mural with wide eyes as Kurt spoke. Kurt took a shaky breath and smiled weakly at him. "And as for having the guts to talk to a guy I like - well, I obviously am not that brave yet." This seems to wake Blaine from his trance. He looks over to Kurt slowly, eyes lost. "I couldn't tell you," added Kurt, his voice so quiet that Kurt isn't sure Blaine will hear. But he does.

"You - you like me?" asked Blaine, voice hoarse.

"Yes," said Kurt in one heavy breath. "But I didn't think you - but I guess you do."

"I do," said Blaine, voice quiet, his expression still one of disbelief. "But Kurt - I - that mural up there?" Blaine turns his eyes toward the word again and Kurt follows him.

"I drew that my first week here." He says it with so much awe and wonder that Kurt does a double take between Blaine and the wall.

"You - what?"

Kurt feels dizzy almost at the admission. He looks at Blaine like it's the first time he's ever seen him and all the air suddenly exhales from his lungs.

"I designed it," said Blaine. He's suddenly fiddling with his pockets, frustrated by the little grip the gloves give as he finally extracts his phone. He starts flipping through photos until he lets out a triumphant sound and hands it over to Kurt. Kurt looks down with wide eyes. On the screen is Blaine, who looks like he had held out his phone as far as it could reach. It's not very bright outside at all, probably the wee hours of the morning by the looks of it. He's here, in this alley, back facing the wall that the mural rests on. Most of Blaine's face is in the photo, smile wide, and the 'Courage' design is above him. He's pointing upwards with the hand not holding the camera, straight to the word and the look of complete happiness on his face is something that also takes Kurt's breath away.

Kurt looks up from the photo, looking at Blaine with a wide eyed expression. His left arm is tingling, just where his tattoo rests.

"You drew it," said Kurt, voice still filled with awe.

"It was the assignment I mentioned once, I think," said Blaine breathlessly. "My teacher's first assignment was for us to, and I quote, 'let your soul be bared for everyone to see using art' - and it was completely open for interpretation. I came up with the word that night, because I have always, always wanted to be that brave, and the colors because how much more of my soul could I show a person? Being gay is who I am, so it only seemed natural. And as for baring it for everyone to see - what better than a building?" He explained. "It took me a while to work up the nerve to come out here and paint it on the wall, but finally I realized that no one would ever know it was me who did it. People could see it, but I wouldn't have to see them see it. It was perfect. I was - I was so happy."

"I can see from the picture," said Kurt. He had reached out at some point to hold Blaine's hands tightly. His mind was still spinning with what this meant - what Blaine being the artist meant. "And you should be, Blaine. This mural - I was telling you how much it meant to me. How much it gave me courage."

"Which I can't even begin to believe," laughed Blaine. There were tears in his eyes, he looked so happy. "I can't believe that something I did - something I made - inspired you. You - you saw something I drew before I ever met you. By months." He laughed again and shook his head.

Blaine paused, still smiling, and looked up at Kurt with eyes shining. He reached up with one hand slowly, resting it on Kurt's cheek. His gloved thumb was rubbing a small circle on his skin, making him shiver. Then Blaine leaned forward and Kurt began to as well to meet in a kiss. Their lips were dry and too cold, after standing in the cold weather of January in New York, but it made Kurt's body grow pleasantly warm. The kiss was everything Kurt had ever imagined and dreamed a real first kiss would be like - with a boy he liked and absolutely perfect for the moment. He didn't want it to end, though it took his breath away.

They parted, breathing heavily and visible in front of their faces. They giggled nervously.

"I can't believe I did that," said Blaine, still breathless from the excitement and the kiss.

"Neither can I," said Kurt. "It was - it was amazing."

"It was."

Blaine was looking at his lips again and was starting to lean in again, but Kurt stopped it.

"Wait - just a moment," said Kurt, tone slow. "I - I have something else to tell you."

Blaine blinked at him, bringing his eyes away from his lips. He nodded. Kurt took a deep breath and took one step away from Blaine so he could think more clearly.

"I loved what this mural made me feel," said Kurt and Blaine smiled at the compliment. "I took a photo of it with my phone and it ended up on the desktop of my computer and phone. It was a constant reminder to be proud of who I am and to always try my best to be brave." He took another deep breath, nervous at what he was about to say. Would Blaine think it was weird, his tattoo? It was certainly strange. "You know how my dad mentioned I had a tattoo?" he asked in a rush.

"Uh, yeah?" said Blaine, confused by the sudden change in conversation. He wasn't thinking clearly, obviously, and wasn't putting the pieces together.

"I was - I was inspired, when I went with Lauren to get her first tattoo," said Kurt as he began to slip off his left glove, wincing at the cold. He began to roll up his thick jacket and long sleeved shirt under it until he was just above the tattoo. "And well - here."

Kurt thrust his arm to Blaine, who reached out and held it delicately with his hands, the fabric of his gloves scratching his skin just like it had his cheek. Blaine looked down at the tattoo, a moment before the fact sunk in - then his eyes widened and the grip tightened slightly.

"That's - that's my -" he said. "Oh my god."

"I ended up getting the mural as my tattoo," Kurt said, though it didn't need to be. Blaine had reached out one hand to trace along the word and Kurt shivered, though not strictly from the cold. "I wanted the constant reminder. And I think - somehow I knew how important it was. Somehow I knew that I was supposed to be drawn to this artwork, because I was always supposed to be drawn to you." Blaine tore his eyes away from the tattoo to look at Kurt, eyes wide and moist. "You don't think it's weird, right?"

"It's not weird," he said, voice thick with the sound of tears. "I just -"

Then Blaine surged forward, kissing Kurt again so hard that Kurt's toes curled. He reached up to grip Blaine's arms, pulling his warm body closer to him. They were even more breathless when they finally tore away.

"I think it looks better on you than it ever has," said Blaine against his lips. "I just can't believe - I can't believe how perfect this all was." He pulled away slightly so he could look into Kurt's eyes. "I - I love you, Kurt."

Kurt knew that it should be too soon. They had only been friends for a few months, and this new part of their relationship was only five minutes old. Those words should be reserved for after more time together. But it felt like a life time to Kurt. He had Blaine's art painted on his skin forever - his feelings toward Blaine with it.

"I love you, too," he said without hesitation.

They pulled each other close again, lips searching for each other.

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Five Months Later

Kurt and Blaine stood in front of the wall, filled with Blaine's drawings, arms around each other's waists. Blaine's head was leaning on Kurt's, eyes taking in the different pieces that he had been slaving over for months now.

There was the painting, much bigger than the original sketch, of Diane and Ronnie, the lesbian couple from Central Park that Blaine had met. The colors of the background were just as beautiful as the look on each woman's face as they looked at the person the loved.

There was one particular drawing of Kurt, Blaine's favorite, of him looking straight ahead. The detail of Kurt's eyes was quite impressive, it was true, though Kurt tended to shy away from selecting drawings of himself as his favorite.

Another drawing two hands joined, wedding rings visible, done in black and white. It was a simple statement of love that Blaine had done over and over again so he could get it right. Kurt had been the one to tell him that he needed to stop stressing and that he was doing it all perfectly - finally giving him the push he need.

There were a few others, but the centerpiece of the small exhibit was a photograph.

Blaine only dabbled in photography. He much preferred getting his hands covered in paint or graphite than standing in a dark room developing film, but in this case, he had made an exception.

It was a large photograph, a split screen. The top photo was of the mural Blaine had painted his first week in school, the 'Courage' drawing centered. The coloring was vibrant and bright, being such a nice day when the photo was taken. The other photo was of Kurt's own wrist, the same drawing tattooed on his skin.

This center photo proclaimed the whole theme of Blaine's exhibit of his work throughout his first year at art school - courage and the courage to love whoever it was you loved.

The art show had begun almost an hour ago. Each student stood by their own work to answer questions by those who had come out to see it. Some were teachers at the school, others people coming in front the public, and other still art critics. Blaine had received his fair share of compliments and teary eyed "thank you's".

Most of all, Blaine was thrilled with the final product of his work. It had all come together in the end, with a lot of encouragement from Kurt.

"I think it's beautiful," said Kurt, breaking the silence that had settled. He leaned down to press a kiss to Blaine's cheek.

"I think so, too," said Blaine. He dropped the arm he had around Kurt's waist, coming down to hold his hand. As he did his fingers graced down the skin of his arm, pausing a moment where he knew the tattoo was. The place of Kurt's body that his hands and lips always found a way back to. He traced Kurt's skin there, almost absently. "Beautiful."

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