Title: Au Pair (3/10 + Epilogue)
Word Count: ~6,100
Characters: (varies) Kurt/Blaine, Rachel, Isobelle, Blaine's parents - William and Monica
Warnings: Oh so AU!
Rating: PG-13 - NC-17 (individual Chapter rating PG)
Summary: With money tight living with Ms Rachel Berry in their 'beautiful little broom cupboard', Kurt knows he needs to find a job. There just happens to be a family who require a nanny. Their son is in need of an escape too. Minus a magic carpet bag, cue Kurt Hummel.
I suck. Haha. I promised to be quicker in updating this time but, as always, I'm plagued with life getting in the way.
Thank you for all of your encouragement on here and tumblr. I promise to try to be a little quicker with Chapter 4 as it's a little shorter. I really hope you like this Chapter and how things are developing - there is much more to come :)
Mornings were the best part of living in the Broom Cupboard. (The name had stuck now and despite Kurt’s vehement protests to the contrary, Rachel had declared it cute.)
Rachel was an early bird too, which helped. She woke with a start, beginning with a vigorous exercise session followed by a vitamin smoothie and wheat crackers. Everything followed a nice routine and Kurt, a creature of habit, loved it.
Rachel would brew coffee as Kurt showered and it’d be ready just to drink or pour into a flask to carry to class.
This morning was no exception.
“Have fun on your date!” Rachel called through from the bathroom. The amusement in her voice was plainly obvious.
“Not a date, Rachel.” Kurt eased on his jacket, grabbing his bag of accessories including an array of pink scarves. “This is not about Blaine, this is about Bella.”
She laughed to herself and Kurt gritted his teeth. “There’s no harm in making the most of the turn of events though is there?”
He’d been trying to ignore the fact that Blaine had asked to come along. It was clearly a way to spend time with his sister but the way Blaine had looked when he’d asked had niggled at Kurt all night. Blaine had looked exhausted sitting on the couch, the original spark that Kurt had been so drawn to, gone.
Somehow, that didn’t change anything. Kurt knew his heart had ached to help.
* * * * * * * *
It didn’t take long to reach The Anderson’s. As always, the jovial doorman smiled, waving Kurt up. Monica had provided him with an electronic key in the post so gaining entry wasn’t so much of a fuss now.
Once at their door, Kurt knocked, smiling as the busy sounds of excitement filtered through the cracks in the door. There was a low murmur of something resembling swing music too.
It opened with force to reveal Isobelle with a grin the size of the sun and just as bright.
“Kurt! Bee says I have to let you in. He’s in his room.”
Kurt smiled and handed over his bag as Isobelle deftly closed the door behind him like a miniature hostess. She knelt down, sifting through the various pink garments with a smile nothing short of wondrous.
“You get to choose,” Kurt added, kneeling down beside her. She looked up into his eyes, hers the size of saucers and sparkling.
“Really? Anything I want?”
With a slow nod, Kurt helped her fish them out and sighed wistfully, remembering each and every purchase. He’d chosen a rather plain outfit - tight grey jeans, with a crisp white shirt and leatherette waistcoat - but knew that, within seconds, he’d be adorning himself at the whim of a six year old. Less was definitely more.
Kurt eyed Isobelle’s black and white gingham dress and sneakers wondering who’d chosen something so workable yet fabulous. As a non-believer in little girls being treated as women, Bella looked perfect.
“How about this?” Kurt offered, handing his cerise silk scarf adorned in black printed bows. He’d bought it a flea market and scowled at the lady when she’d asked if it was a present for his girlfriend. She clearly had no concept of the unisex application of bows.
“Wow.” She gasped, hands clinging to the fabric. “Can I?”
“Of course. Come here.” Kurt signalled for her to move closer and she obeyed, grinning wildly.
“Bee likes pink. He was a pink bow.”
“You told me,” Kurt laughed, stylishly tying the scarf around her neck. She watched his hands intently. “Is he wearing it today?”
“Yes. Go see. He’s in his room.”
Kurt stood back, admiring his handiwork. “I don’t suppose he wants me to interrupt him but we’ll see when he comes out. Now, do you take a bag?”
Her brow crinkled in confusion. “Why?”
Did six year olds carry purses? Had they made a foray into the ‘I must carry my life with me’ territory yet? “Well, all young ladies need a purse. Do you have one?”
“Yes but Bee always carries things. He takes a bag. I have a purse but I don’t have things for it.”
Kurt grinned, careful not to patronise. Learning to think at a child’s level was surprisingly easy with Bella. Still, kids were such delicate creatures and the worry of upsetting them was something that bothered Kurt more than it should. Especially Bella.
“Show me and we’ll see what we can do.”
After placing a few hair slides and a small glittered money pouch (still empty) into Bella’s black purse, she slung it over her shoulder and Kurt couldn’t help but notice how she flounced as she walked, nudging it with her hip.
Kurt turned and sucked in a breath instantly.
“You wore the pink bow!” Bella squealed so high that Kurt winced with a laugh, eyes never leaving Blaine who waved awkwardly with an armful of six year old.
“I did,” he laughed, kissing Bella’s forehead. His eyes stopped at her neck and Kurt watched the slow smile ease onto his face. “Did Kurt give you this?”
“Yes. He says it’s mine.”
“Well,” Blaine said, head tilted in thought, “that’s very nice of him. Did you say thank you?”
Frantic, she turned to Kurt. “Did I?”
“Yes, sweetie. You thanked me.”
She seemed appeased and flew into a run down the hall shouting about her coat.
Blaine shook his head adoringly. “You just made her morning by the way.”
Kurt fumbled for words but all that surfaced was a train of amused noises, jumbled and useless in appearing cool and like a normal human being. Blaine looked different.
He wasn’t as guarded as he’d been previously; his eyes were bright and alive once more.
“Oh I have plenty where that came from so I won’t miss it. It looks better on her. It’s definitely kid-chic.”
Blaine looked pleased, grinning slow, and turned to write on a pad of paper in the hallway. Kurt realised he must have appeared confused as Blaine proceeded to explain. “My mom and dad are away on a retreat but I always write a note in case they come home early for some reason. My mom’s firm hosts them regularly as her field of law takes its toll at times. Apparently family law is difficult for the soul.”
Kurt registered the bitterness in Blaine’s voice but didn’t push. “They’re away all weekend?”
Blaine finished and turned, grabbing his coat from where he’d placed it on a near-by chair. It was difficult not to stare at Blaine’s navy waist-skimming cardigan and jeans. The fact they had the cutest turn-ups made the entire ensemble far too endearing.
Blaine didn’t seem to notice Kurt’s unashamed staring. He nodded. “It’s all about to get busier for them and they know they have you now, so when you start properly next week, I think my mom will provide you with an itinerary so you know exactly when you’re needed.”
“I see,” Kurt said, “and so we work around you and I?”
Blaine’s lips quirked up at that. “Yes. I think that’s the general idea.”
“But, for today, we’re off schedule?” Kurt tugged his bag over his shoulder, eyes resolute on Blaine’s.
“Today, we’re off schedule.” Blaine grinned wide and let out an enormous sigh; his body seemed to relax more and after calling for Bella and watching her running in her little black coat down the hall, Blaine seemed much more at ease. Kurt kept catching Blaine’s eyes and, each time, they were animated and each glance always accompanied a warm smile.
Clearly, without his parents, Blaine was a very different creature.
Monica had apparently been thrilled at the idea of a day trip; Kurt gleaned this much from Blaine’s chattering as they walked. She had given Blaine an allowance to pass to Kurt for any expenses and that was the first hint that she had absolutely no idea of Blaine’s involvement in their outing.
“Where are we going?” Bella asked, bouncing on Blaine’s arm. She skipped on every other step.
“It’s a cafe called Alice’s Tea Cup. I think you’ll love it. I’ve only been once, a long time ago but I had a lot of fun,” Kurt explained.
Blaine laughed, pulling her arm so she jumped in air giggling. “It’s Alice from Alice in Wonderland. We watched the movie, do you remember?”
“The one with the scary man?”
Kurt pressed his lips tight to hide a smile. Blaine’s eyes were dancing with amusement too and Kurt just watched them talk, quietly revelling in how sweet they were together.
“Yes. That’s the one.”
“So Alice owns it?”
Kurt covered his mouth, laughing. Blaine glanced over, smirking too. “No Bells, it’s just a name for the place because it has a lot of Alice in Wonderland themed things in it. You’ll like it.”
“Will the scary man be there?” She looked up at Kurt first, eyes innocent-wide.
Kurt stopped and bent down to her level, daring to reach for one of her hands. She blinked down at the contact before looking into Kurt’s eyes, still forlorn. Blaine was silent but still standing close as Kurt spoke softly. “No, honey. He won’t be there. There will be no scary men today just pretty pink things and cake. How’s that for a promise?”
She sniffed, half smiling. “A good one.”
“Exactly and I don’t take any old person to a place as fancy as this, you know?” She cocked her head and Kurt smiled to himself at the sound of Blaine chuckling above him.
“Really? Not even your girl that’s a friend?”
Something tugged at Kurt’s stomach and the urge to cuddle her to him, to squeeze her and garner some of her child-like simplicity, was hard to squash down. As Kurt patted her hand with a shake of his head, it was difficult to remember why he’d been so scared of relating to children. They were a thousand times less stressful than adults.
“No way. Rachel would show me up.”
“I won’t,” Bella said defiantly around the edges of a smile.
“Of course you won’t.”
The walk was short and Bella was full of joy as the entrance appeared in sight, bouncing with every step. Kurt found himself deep in thought as Blaine and Bella talked about what she might order.
It was a chance to not only get to know Bella more and develop their relationship but Blaine seemed unguarded, unlike the last time they’d talked. His cheeks were flushed from the breeze and he seemed to walk with a spring in his step, enjoying teasing Bella whenever possible and including Kurt in everything they talked about.
Something wasn’t right, though.
It was all too easy.
Here he was, a relative stranger and Kurt was being accepted into their lives without question. Yes, they knew he’d been vetted by their mother and, yes, he was fulfilling his role but Blaine didn’t seem to be thrown by Kurt’s sudden presence.
If honest, Kurt had expected resentment or at least some form of suspicion, being the older brother and the closest person to Isobelle but, if anything, it had been the opposite.
Blaine ducked his head, smiling. “Everything ok?”
“Yes. Yes. Everything’s fine. I was just miles away.” Kurt straightened, forcing a smile for Bella and clapping his hands. “Are we ready?”
“Yes! I’ve decided what I want too. Bee says there’s ice cream.” She was practically squirming, rocking on her heels, so Kurt took her other hand and lead the way inside.
After ordering - Bella revelling in glee at being allowed to order from the waitress herself - Kurt found them a seat by the window under a dozen dangling butterflies, all painted with glitter and jewels. Blaine seemed to be enraptured with Bella’s face as she stared, mouth agape and uttering the odd expression of wonder.
As she inspected the wall murals and began to play with a collection of dolls in the corner of the room, Kurt turned to Blaine, watching him fold their jackets on the empty chair.
“Can I ask you a question?”
Blaine stopped and looked up, eyes startled wide. “Of course.” Kurt could see the flicker of uncertainty on his face but pressed on, the thoughts from their walk still fresh in his mind.
“I don’t want to press a subject that’s potentially uncomfortable for you but I have to ask about the other day. I’m not one to pry and if you think I’m sticking my nose where it isn’t wanted then feel free to tell me to mind my own business but I felt like I was walking on egg shells and, frankly, my shoes are kind of important to me so I’d like to know if I’m contributing to the potential demise of my soft leather boots or if the reason you asked to join us today was because you’re worried about the state of your suede loafers.”
It was a messy analogy, admittedly, but after mild internal panic, Kurt leaned his chin on his arm propped on the table and watched Blaine’s expression change. It eventually softened.
“They’re not suede,” Blaine offered, hiding a smile as he quickly checked Bella’s whereabouts, “and you don’t need to worry about minding your own business. Egg shells is an understatement. I’m not offended, just embarrassed and a little bit relieved that you didn’t think I was weird for asking to come today.”
“You’re Bella’s brother. In what way would it have been appropriate for me to say no?” Kurt raised his eyebrows in well-mannered accusation. “Anyway, you looked full of melancholy and I’m no masochist. Maybe being surrounded by bejewelled insects and eating cream cakes is exactly what you need.”
“To block out years of parental disappointment, frustration and misery? Yes.” Kurt was taken aback by the sharpness of the sarcasm momentarily until Blaine shrugged, clearly teasing. “It’s ok. The cream cake might help after all. Your whole shoe speech broke the ice, though. I’m not ashamed to talk about this with you.”
Kurt toyed with the menu, trying desperately not to look into Blaine’s eyes as he spoke. “That’s what I don’t understand. You don’t know me.”
Looking up to gauge Blaine’s reaction was foolish. Immediately, Kurt’s stomach fluttered wildly at the intensity in Blaine’s eyes, the way they didn’t move, just holding their own in a way that made Kurt want to never look away. It felt cruel to break the moment so Kurt didn’t. Maybe that was what Blaine wanted – needed.
“I don’t know you, no. I suppose you’re right. I do know that I like to spend time with my sister when I’m not busy, like today. I don’t have classes on Monday as we start a new intensive part of the course on Tuesday so I have less prep for once this semester. I had a bad day yesterday, I felt down and wanted to be around… to, um, cheer myself up and where better to do that than a place like this?”
“And you have to put up with the nanny in tow too.”
Blaine shook his head, a frown visible and an unspoken dismissal of Kurt’s words. “Is there anything you want to know about me? Or Bella? Because you’re right about us not knowing enough about each other,” Blaine asked as the waitress placed two slices of cake on the table followed by a large frothy Mocha and one drip coffee. Kurt smiled up at her tightly, almost urging her to leave and stop fussing. Frilled napkins and bejewelled spoons were really not necessary, even if they did add a touch of atmosphere. She seemed to get the message instantly.
Settling into his seat and nursing the warm mug between his hands, Kurt quirked an eyebrow. “Ok. What do you study? Your mom said something about teaching?”
Blaine smiled, copying Kurt’s action. “I’m studying to be a teacher at Steinhardt, although I’m taking classes in child psychology too. I’m just not sure which I’m going to major in and take further. I think I enjoy both equally. My professor said I’d make a promising child counsellor but it’s a daunting idea.”
“Rather you than me,” Kurt quipped, wrinkling his nose.
“What do you mean?”
“Kids,” Kurt said simply. He shook his head, shocked that Blaine hadn’t already guessed his lack of experience with them. “It’s a tough job and someone’s got to do it.”
Blaine laughed, then, and Kurt couldn’t help but smile at the irony and the pleasant way Blaine’s eyes squinted, all amused as he ducked his head. “Great. My sister’s au pair’s kid phobic. That’s exactly what I wanted to hear.”
“No,” Kurt huffed out, smiling, “what I meant was that I don’t think I could dedicate my life to helping vulnerable kids in need. It’s a big responsibility.”
“I know.” As Blaine spoke, he turned, watching Bella out of the corner of his eye. Kurt followed his line of sight and saw her reach for a doll, smoothing down its hair and petting it gently.
“Has she always been so trusting?” Kurt barely thought twice before speaking, his heart calming only at the sight of Blaine’s amiable eyes. Nothing in them seemed offended by Kurt’s imposition.
“Yes and no. She’s a lot older than her years compared to most kids her age but I guess it’s because she’s been around me too much.” Blaine laughed, placing his mug on the table. One of his arms wound its way around his waist and Kurt couldn’t stop staring and wondering why, as Blaine spoke honestly, he chose to subconsciously guard himself. Studying body language in acting class was good for something, not to mention Rachel’s obsession with it and her constant chatter about posture and grace being the ultimate mark of a good performer.
Blaine looked as if he might curl in on himself at any moment. Still, he kept talking.
“She’s got friends her own age but none that she ever calls best friends, not really. We’ve moved a lot, always shipped off to camp in the Summer. Plus, she’s no stranger to being around adults.”
“Nice psychoanalysis you’ve got there.”
Blaine pulled a face, dismissing the praise and scratched at his shoulder. “I wish.”
“No, it makes sense. She’s mature for a six year old. Not that I know many six year olds, but I doubt many would be as assertive as she is. She’s how I imagine a smaller, sweeter and less terrifying Rachel Berry.” Blaine frowned questioningly. “Oh, my housemate, best friend and over-emoting diva. Bella’s a much lovelier breed of girl but Rachel was almost like a mini adult much like Bella. It’s just she’s much more confident than I was at her age.”
Kurt smiled. “So she doesn’t take after you, then?”
Blaine barked out a short, sharp laugh. “No way. She’s about twenty steps ahead of me. I was a nightmare, always so full of energy and little outlet for it except for at school so my teachers are the ones to feel sorry for.”
“Not at home?” Kurt asked, already certain of the answer.
“No. Not at home. Well, not all of the time. I had my moments but school was my outlet.”
“My dad enjoyed many an afternoon dressing my dolls. I had both male and female but they were equally as well dressed and groomed. I taught my dad to braid synthetic hair as a child. I don’t think he’s ever forgiven me.”
Blaine’s face lit up, chuckling into the rim of his cup. “So you’re close?” Something registered in Blaine’s face and he stuttered a little, putting down his mug. “Not that you have to answer anything so personal, I just – “
“Yes, we’re close,” Kurt added with a smile. “We’re very close actually. Rare, I know, but we’ve been through a lot together.”
Blaine appeared eager to say more but Bella appeared by the table, climbing up into the empty chair. “Where’s mine?”
“It’ll be coming, Bells. Ice cream takes longer.”
She leaned in close to Kurt, smelling his drink and screwing up her nose. Blaine chuckled low in his throat, glancing to share the joke with Kurt who grinned back, straightening up in his chair.
“Smelly,” she said in assessment and looked at Blaine for approval.
“Mine smells worse,” Blaine laughed, holding his mug under her nose and causing her to gasp, rubbing at her face.
As Bella squirmed in her seat, fighting off Blaine’s mug and laughing as he tried to wipe foam on her nose, Kurt felt his phone buzz in his pocket. Wrinkling his nose in apology and shuffling his chair back a fraction he checked the caller ID.
“Hi Finn,” Kurt greeted, unable to hide a smile. They talked a lot but hadn’t spoken in a few days due to Kurt being so busy and tired that his body threatened to let him doze off during any quiet moments.
“Hey! How you doin’ dude? You ok to talk?”
Kurt glanced at Blaine who looked away quickly. “Not really but I’ll make an exception for you.” Finn huffed a laugh on the end of the line.
“Cool. Just wanted to check in. Burt’s got me worked to the bone in the garage and he’s told me what you’ve been up to. Nanny, huh?”
“Well, I have to find a way to keep myself in the manner to which I’m accustomed.”
Finn made a familiar noise of agreement. “So you’re ok over there? Everyone’s ok?”
Finn was particularly terrible at hiding his still lasting concern for Rachel but Kurt didn’t deny him a sliver of information when he asked. After all, they’d spent the entirety of school so sickeningly in love and useless at it that there was no surprise that some feelings still lingered.
“I’m fantastic, Finn. Don’t worry. I’m busy but you know that’s how I prefer to be. Everyone’s fine. Rachel’s working hard and is enjoying the course and making plenty of enemies in her wake. Her talent, it seems, is a little intimidating even for some of the more egotistical students.”
There was a hum on the line and Kurt smiled, cradling the phone. “So everyone’s happy?”
“Yes, Finn. You don’t need to worry. Everyone’s happy. I’m happy.”
“Awesome, bro. I’m pleased to hear it. So how’s the kid you’re looking after? I’ve got to say, when Burt told me you were going to be a nanny on the side, I was kinda shocked, dude. You’re not exactly a kid person.”
Kurt glanced over to Bella who had been presented with her sundae. Her eyes were alight as Blaine helped her with the cream topping, laughing when her top lip was covered in white froth.
“I’m Santa,” she declared loudly, prodding Blaine’s arm and Kurt couldn’t help but bask in the warm feeling blooming in his chest.
“She’s adorable. And I resent your accusations. I happen to have found a talent with children that I didn’t know I possessed.” Blaine looked up, finger coated in cream and with a crinkly smile. He nodded his agreement, clearly aware of what Kurt was talking about. “Anyway, Finn, I have to go. I’ll call you later when I get back to the apartment, ok?”
“Yeah, ok. Love ya, dude!” Kurt sighed, amused. Finn had taken to being much more forthcoming with his feelings now they were far away from each other. He’d read something saying that you should always close a conversation with someone with the one thing you’d want them to remember, just in case something bad happened. Let it be the last thing they hear from you.
As disconcerting as it was to be showered with so much love by Finn, it was also incredibly sweet. “I love you too. I’ll try to come to see you soon, ok?”
“No worries. But before you go, you won’t forget to send me a Yankees cap will you? You promised and I’m sure the post guy thinks I’m crazy or something. I keep checking.”
Kurt rolled his eyes fondly. “Yes, ok. Anyone would think you life depended on it.”
“Yeah, well, I gotta have something to show for having a brother in the Big Apple. Puck still thinks I’m lying, thinks you’ve joined some kinda circus or something.”
Kurt snorted, derisively. “It’ll have been a gay circus, right?” Blaine’s head snapped up, eyes wide and questioning.
“Something like that. You know how he is.”
“Only too well,” Kurt added.
“Yeah. Anyways, I’ll let you go, bro. Take care out there and I’ll tell Burt you said hi.”
Kurt said his goodbyes and pocketed his phone. Turning back to Bella, Kurt caught Blaine staring again, eyebrows knitted in confusion. At being caught looking, Blaine’s face relaxed and the expression was gone, straightened out and subdued as he ran a finger around the rim of his mug.
“Sorry about that.” Kurt leaned onto the table, arms crossed.
“Oh, don’t worry about it. You have a life too. So.” Blaine drew out the word, biting at the corner of his lip. “Is your boyfriend ok with you working for us?”
Blaine seemed to curl in on himself for a second, shaking his head and the nerves loose with it. “Sorry. Sorry, overstepping the mark. You don’t have to answer that.”
Laying a firm hand on the table between them, Kurt shook his head purposefully. “Finn is my brother. Well, step brother to be exact but seeing as we’re pretty close, I always drop the ‘step’ part. He’s not my boyfriend.”
Kurt caught Bella, eyes furtive and listening intently. Every few seconds she’d eat a scoop of ice cream but she was definitely paying attention to them despite the fact she had a desert all to herself.
“I’m sorry, Kurt. I didn’t mean to be presumptuous or rude, I just… you said ‘love’ and I presumed.” Kurt felt himself tense at Blaine’s discomfort but still couldn’t shake an odd sense of satisfaction at not only Blaine’s interest but his bashfulness.
“Well you most definitely presumed wrong but it’s ok, we’re all getting to know each other, right?” Ducking his head, Kurt smirked and aimed to catch Blaine’s eye. When he did, Blaine frowned an apology and attempted a grin in return.
“So,” Blaine said with a deep breath, zoning in on Bella, “how’s the ice cream?”
They sat eating and talking for hours, Bella chipping in with stories of her own whilst helping Kurt with his cake and Blaine filled Kurt in on tales from their childhood: Isobelle and the time she brought a cat home from school in her satchel and hid it in her room, Blaine and the time he wanted to be an astronaut and stole his dad’s computer to send an email to NASA, Isobelle and the great cake baking disaster which prompted a new set of household rules including a ‘no Bella in the kitchen without supervision’ stipulation and lastly, Blaine and his photography phase; apparently he’d taken to sneaking where he wasn’t wanted to snap shots of people in their natural state, which also included surprising his mother in her underwear and father in the middle of a ‘very important’ meeting. Safe to say, Kurt could not stop laughing and by the end of their time in the cafe, he felt as if he knew them both that little bit better.
As they walked to Central Park, Bella begging and pleading to get to feed the birds, Kurt found himself breathing in deep. There’d been a time when college in New York was a “thing”, a phrase he said that he held so dear and with the passion of a thousand suns but it had always been a little too abstract to seem real. Now, walking along the bustling streets with car horns beeping and the twang of New Yorkers in his ears, it finally felt real.
He didn’t realise he was miles away until something tugged at his sleeve. “Did you do naughty things when you were six?” Bella asked, skipping on every step.
Kurt chuckled under his breath. “Not really. I was quiet at school so I wasn’t naughty there and, at home, I didn’t have a lot of opportunity to be bad because my Dad kept me in line.”
“Did you have to go to a lot of parties too?” Kurt paused, glancing up at Blaine who looked momentarily embarrassed. Kurt bent down to her height.
“No, honey. He just made it clear what was right and what was wrong and I learned pretty quick.” Kurt decided, looking at her solemn face, to be truly honest. She was a smart kid so she deserved it. “And my mom died when I was small so it was just my dad and me for a long time. There isn’t a lot of time to be naughty when you’re sad. Do you understand?”
She bit her lip, looking down. “Are you sad now?”
Laughing, he smoothed her pink scarf. “No, I’m not sad now. It was a long time ago and even though I miss her, I know that she loved me and that’s all that matters. Sometimes life sucks.”
He looked up for a second to find Blaine staring. His gaze was intense, focused entirely on Kurt and flooded deep with kindness.
“Was she like a film star like you?” Kurt turned his attention back to Bella and heard Blaine scoff a fond laugh above him. Kurt smiled, twiddling a tendril of her hair and surprising himself at how quickly that level of affection came.
“She was beautiful. She had hair like yours actually, only much, much lighter. She liked to sing and make people laugh.”
Bella grinned, reaching out to touch his scarf too. “So, are you going to feed the birds with us?”
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
* * * * * * * *
After thirty minutes of sitting on a bench watching Blaine grab Bella by the waist dragging her away from a potentially injured pigeon while insisting they carry disease, Kurt felt more content than he had in a long time.
His phone buzzed with a text.
How is it going? Is he still dreamy and handsome? I have a date this evening. He’s from my acting class and his father’s a director. THIS CAN ONLY MEAN GOOD THINGS. I’ll be out when you get home but I promise to leave the Broom Cupboard tidy. There is some Broccoli Kugel for you if you’re hungry. Love you xoxo
Shooting a quick reply back filled with luck and disdain for her ulterior motives, Kurt turned his focus back to Blaine. Something had definitely changed back in the cafe. They’d laughed together and there was more clarity in their friendship now. It felt nice to know Blaine a little more.
Bella plopped down on the grass and tried to pull Blaine with her but he shook his head and patted her curls lovingly. He sauntered over to take the empty space on the bench.
“Thank you for letting me tag along today. It’s been fun.”
Kurt leaned back, one leg crossed over the other, and offered a smile. “You’re welcome.
“I have go soon, though. I got a text from a friend in my psych class and she wanted to run something by me for next week. We’re role playing.”
“Oh. Okay. I can bring Bella back when she’s done if that’s ok with you?”
Blaine considered it for a second and began to fumble in his pocket, drawing out his phone. “We could swap numbers if you’d like?” Kurt attempted to nod demurely, passing his own phone to Blaine to begin punching numbers in. The significance of the moment wasn’t lost on Kurt and although it was all for practical reasons, there was the tiny matter of the tremble in Blaine’s fingers to think on.
Contact details swapped, Blaine looked back at Bella. “She knows road safety but keep hold of her hand when you’re near traffic. My mom doesn’t let her eat anything acidic or too sweet late in the afternoon. She tends to get sleepy around three so if she whines at you then just distract her. I have my cell at all times and if she acts up then be firm with her. She’s usually great but sometimes gets frustrated. She likes Reese’s Peanut Butter cups but they send her crazy so don’t try it.”
Kurt pressed his lips together, absorbed in Blaine rambling and hiding a smile. There was something completely charming about his mild mannered concern.
“Blaine, I learned from the best,” he assured.
“Who would that be?”
Kurt grinned brightly. “Ms Mary Poppins. Do not fear. She is ‘practically perfect in every way’ and I happen to follow in her footsteps.”
A tingly shiver ran across Kurt’s skin at Blaine’s all-out giggle, his eyes alight and shining. It was like looking at a stranger. He was so animated, illustrated with affection and grace in comparison to the crumbling version that had slumped on the couch a day before.
Blaine quietened, licking his lips and smoothing his cardigan. “Seeing as you have this all under control, I’ll be off then.”
Kurt watched as he stood, faltering for a moment. “She’ll be fine,” Kurt assured, standing too.
Blaine turned, smiling thoughtfully to himself. “No, I wasn’t going to push it. I was just going to say that I’m, um… I’m pleased we got to know each other today.”
Kurt blinked up, eyes overwhelmed by the light. Suddenly, it felt as if there was no air. “Yes, I mean, me too.”
Blaine’s eyelashes were so long. He nodded, more to himself than anything else, and Kurt couldn’t take his eyes off them, their fluttering path down to his blushed cheek and up again in smooth intonations. Kurt was staring and everything was too hot.
“Um,” Blaine said, tugging at his bow tie nervously. “I’ll see you later when you bring Bella back. Feel free to text me when you’re on your way. I can let you up.”
All Kurt could do was nod, forcing a smile through the distracted thumping of his heart; Blaine was walking away with careful steps and shoulders much more solid than Kurt had ever seen them.
Watching him go, Kurt understood why he’d been so easily welcomed by both of them. He’d interrupted their lives and changed everything they were used to. Blaine didn’t have to focus his entire mind on his sister and Bella had someone else who would listen, someone who would treat her as a child and indulge her, pay her attention and ask her questions.
It all made so much more sense that their long standing lifestyle was something they didn’t care for but had very little say in. There were reasons for Blaine being cooped up at home instead of living out in dorms and embracing the college lifestyle and it certainly wasn’t down to lack of money. As if safe not to rock the boat, Blaine was afraid to be himself around the people who should have accepted him without question and Bella, well, she knew of nothing else outside of that lifestyle.
With a sudden fierce intensity, Kurt felt indignant. It would have been so easy for his father to have embraced the phase in high school where Kurt had worn flannel shirts and lowered his voice an octave; Kurt could have easily been forced to resign himself to a life of hiding who he truly was from those who were closest.
Blaine was tentatively drawn to Kurt because he was an escape: a momentary freedom from feeling under pressure and scrutiny to live a life he wasn’t comfortable with.
Watching Bella chasing the birds, leaping from place to place with yelps of surprise, Kurt remembered the times in his life when he’d ached desperately for comfort and escape and knew exactly how Blaine felt. How could he blame someone else for chasing after a little freedom? It was honouring to know he was able to play a part in that, however small.
There was a lot still to learn and Kurt had a full and vibrant life of his own but something was missing and always had been. He’d never found that ultimate comfort and contentment he’d been searching for, the thrill of being with another person that sent your head spinning and tummy fluttering with butterflies. Being around Blaine was something close to that and with the addition of Bella, it all felt so new and exciting and nice but, with all of that, came a strange sense of fear. He'd never opened up to people and let someone in wholeheartedly. He'd sheltered his heart and kept people at bay for many years and at the prospect of letting those guards down, Kurt knew he was scared. Very very scared.
TO PART 4A
... and for those like me who are unfamiliar with much of NYC, my lovely friend told me of Alice's Tea Cup and if I ever get the chance to go to NYC, I'll be certain to go visit it :) This is a link to their website and if you go to the gallery, you'll see some of the references from this chapter ;)