Title: Au Pair (4A/10 + Epilogue)
Word Count: ~4,000
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'm splitting this chapter into two. The second part will be posted tomorrow as it still needs a little preening :)
You will notice that things do get worse before they get better and there is drama to come. I didn't expect this story to delve deeply into the angst and I'm keeping it as gentle as I can but I hope there's plenty of the warmth to balance it out! *crosses fingers*
Thank you for all of your encouragement on here and tumblr. I will have 4B up tomorrow evening. I hope you enjoy this installment :)
* * * * * * * *
Over the next couple of weeks, everything began to fit nicely together like a neat little jigsaw; college and home life worked well alongside looking after Bella, who had become familiar with their new structure and was obviously thrilled at being able to attend her dance classes.
Not seeing Monica and William enough was something Kurt had to push to one side. They were often strangers passing in the night or, to be precise, the morning. Monica was better at it all, her neatly written notes and polite text messages were becoming a familiar part of Kurt’s life and they’d agreed to a fortnightly meeting to ensure everything was working well. Kurt knew that if a problem arose, she would be there as soon as she could but William was a different matter. He was still very much a stranger.
Collecting Bella was easy as her classes usually ended in time for Kurt to catch a subway to meet her. Any busy days of dance classes, when all Kurt desperately needed was to soak in a lavender infused bubble bath and crash on the couch with a bowl of chopped fruit and something deliciously trashy on TV, were fitting in well around the days he was required to be a responsible adult and nanny.
The outlier in the equation was Blaine. He was obviously busy with college work, always spending his time in his room with music softly playing in the background or rushing out the door but when the load freed up, he was an ever present part of Kurt and Bella’s time together.
Thinking about Blaine was a hazard – a maddeningly lovely hazard. Kurt had decided it a while ago and nothing had changed. They’d become friends easily, sharing a love of unexpected things like fashion and music, but it was the relatively unspoken things they shared that fused the connection more than a mutual appreciation of Tom Ford’s tailoring or the awesomeness of Duran Duran in their heyday. Kurt didn’t push it though, knowing that whatever issues existed in the Anderson household were none of his business and entirely for them to deal with.
As much as he wanted to intervene, Kurt knew it would be a step too far and an almost inevitable road to dismissal. Monica Anderson was a proud woman. Any sign of her nanny casting aspersions about her home life would be tantamount to personal insult.
There was nothing appealing in being shunned and sent packing from a job he was falling in love with daily. Not to mention leaving Blaine behind.
The only problem was that Bella was important now and becoming much more so as time went by; her topics of conversation were growing much more personal and Kurt wasn’t sure how to approach those kinds of discussions with her.
* * * * * * * *
“Grab your bag, sweetie, and we’ll be on our way.” Bella nodded and raced for her things, ignoring the other little girls around her. Kurt watched them chatter in groups, giggling and linking arms.
“Okidokie. Come on then, well grab a smoothie on the way home. How does that sound?” She bounced on his arm, her tutu and fluffy cardigan jiggling in the cutest way. Kurt had ensured she always had appropriate clothes to walk the streets of New York compared to some of the other little madams who frequented the ballet classes. Clearly the shows on Bravo weren’t over-exaggerated after all – those people actually existed.
After grabbing a Pomegranate Paradise from Jamba Juice, Kurt walked them slowly back home.
“So how was your day?”
“Ok. Olivia said I was weird for not liking Miley Cyrus and I only got one question wrong on my math test.”
Kurt laughed to himself, squeezing her hand. “I’ll let you into a secret.” She glanced up at him in wonder. “There is nothing wrong with not liking something and you should never like something just because everyone else does. Being different is what makes you special. Anyway, I was terrible at Math too. I could speak perfect French and aced most of my other classes so if you understand Math at six years old then you’re way ahead of the curve. Actually, at six years old you’re ahead of most of the delinquents I used to share classes with.”
“Nearly seven,” she reminded, hopping over a pavement crack.
“Nearly seven. That’s right, I forgot. When is your birthday? I’ve never asked.”
“I’m seven on January first.”
“Wow, a New Year baby. That must have been fun for your mom. I bet she got to celebrate plenty that year.”
Bella’s brow knitted tight in a frown. “Why?”
Skimming over the issues, Kurt smiled down as she slurped on her drink. “Anyway, weren’t you spending time with Blaine last night? Was that fun?” Something changed in an instant and she stiffened by his side, looking down at the pavement without a word. “Bella?”
Kurt slowed to a stop and bent down, ducking his head to catch her eye.
“He didn’t want to.”
Glacially slow and just as cold, a shiver ran up Kurt’s spine. She looked shut up tight. “Well, I’m sure he had a good reason.”
“He was sad.” At that final word, she lowered her smoothie cup and looked up into Kurt’s eyes, their usually sparkle dimmed to a muted dullness. It was very uncharacteristic and Kurt had to restrain himself from pulling her to him. It had been a personal decision of his; cuddling and over-affection were only going to be too difficult to stop if it became the norm. There had to be some boundaries for someone as little as Isobelle.
“You’re his favourite person in the world so I’m sure he felt bad for not being able spend time with you.”
“He said he was sorry,” she whispered, biting at her lip. After a momentary silence, she murmured quietly into the collar of her jacket. “They were shouting.”
Kurt closed his eyes for a second, taking a breath. So that was the issue. “I’m sure everything will be fine soon. People fight sometimes. It’s not nice but it’s not your fault.”
“Blaine’s always sad.”
What to say to that? Kurt took a steadying breath. He had been sad a lot and without his family and the New Directions there was a chance he’d still feel that way. Blaine seemed to have neither.
“Sometimes people are sad and sometimes that person just needs someone to give them a hug or just be there. I know for a fact that you cheer him up and make him smile.”
She sniffed and passed Kurt her cup. “I don’t want any more.” Her lip quivered and Kurt couldn’t hold back any longer, pressing a hand to her shoulder and stroking at her hair.
“How about we go home and we can do something fun? You choose. You liked when we played dress up last time, right?”
Eyes doll-wide and shiny, Bella seemed to ignore his offer. “Blaine’s happy when he’s with us.”
“Oh sweetie,” Kurt sighed, “I’m sure he is. Just like I said, he loves spending time with you and if he is sad for some reason then you make it all better without even trying. I promise you.”
“He likes to sing too,” she offered, the signs of smile on her lips. That was new.
“He does? Does he sing for you?”
She shook her head, grinning now. “He sang in school. He sings in a big group now. They put on shows. I’m not allowed to go all the time but Mom went once and I got to go too.” She pulled the cup back and took a sip, Kurt’s heart levelling out from its thumping rhythm as her mood slowly changed.
“And was he good?”
“He looked like a pop star,” she giggled.
“I bet he did.”
Kurt stood back up, ignoring the many looks from passers-by and grasped Bella’s hand once more. As they began walking, there was little else to think about but Bella’s obvious awareness of the family’s troubles. For a six year old (nearly seven, of course) it just wasn’t fair.
Still, Blaine sang. Blaine performed. He had an outlet and, for the remainder of their walk, Kurt couldn’t distract himself for long enough, thoughts consumed with exactly how Blaine looked lit by a spotlight.
* * * * * * * *
As they entered the apartment, Bella raced to her room to change. The second Kurt had introduced her to the world of the make-over, she’d grown ten feet and laughed till she was red in the face at Kurt in various costumes. He’d tried to teach her the art of clever layering but clearly, his sailor cap and Moscow hat were much funnier. Even if Kurt had gritted his teeth as she’d told him it looked as if a cat had curled up to sleep on his head. He’d worn it seriously in the past and still would if the occasion called for it.
Still, she’d had fun and Kurt had passed the thing onto her. Clearly, it wasn’t a garment he could rock any longer.
Kurt busied himself unpacking her bag and checking her diary for teacher’s comments. It was an agreement that Kurt oversaw her homework on the days he collected her from school. Her only task was to keep reading her current fiction book. As he was replying in the ‘parent/guardian’ section and honouring the teacher’s wishes, there was a definite feeling of someone else present in the apartment.
A soft melody was drifting through the air. A sucker for piano playing, Kurt smiled and wandered through towards Bella’s room.
“Hey, Bella? Do you know where that music’s coming from?”
She glanced up from her place on the floor. “Blaine’s room,” she said. Clearly it wasn’t out of the ordinary.
Blaine was supposed to be busy but it didn’t matter. Kurt stood for a while, listening to the lilt and flow of the notes and could feel the passion in them. There were two types of pianists he’d come across: those who played for the sake of playing and those who played because it was in their very bones to do so.
Blaine meant every note.
Kurt had never seen his room. There had been no need; most of their time together had been while Bella was there, conspicuous meetings in the kitchen or they’d ventured out and left the apartment far behind.
In a moment of confidence, Kurt tapped lightly on the door. It took a second and harder knock for the playing to stop. After a few minutes, the door opened and Blaine appeared, mildly shocked and dressed much more casually than Kurt was sure he’d ever seen him.
His usual bow tied ensemble was replaced with a fitted white t-shirt and dark jeans.
“Hi,” he laughed out, seemingly breathless. “I didn’t hear you guys get home. Bella usually comes in the second she gets home.”
Kurt bowed his head sheepishly, nodding towards her door. “I think I distracted her with the promise of dress-up.”
With a playful grin, Blaine rolled his eyes. “Ah yes. She has talked of nothing else for a week. You definitely made an impression. Although, where you found those costume hats, I have no idea.”
Ducking his head, Kurt pulled a pained expression and hoped Blaine could read his mind. “Um – “
“Oh,” Blaine laughed, scratching his shoulder with a shrug, “they were yours?”
“I’ll have you know I rocked the Moscow look long before Gaga got creative and sailor-chic will always be relevant. If Jean Paul Gautier can pull it off then so can I.”
Kurt couldn’t help but gasp at the way Blaine’s eyes sparkled when he smiled, especially when it was at something funny. It was becoming addictive to act as the catalyst for that kind of reaction. It was a pity he hadn’t realised that well-meant fashion mockery was a winning method.
“That’s very true. He’s been pulling it off for years.”
Kurt offered a smile and stood tall, ignoring the thickness of the tension. There was part of him desperate to peer into Blaine’s room and soak up more of his character –
“So, is everything ok? Bella ok?”
On the exhale, Kurt reassured him. “She’s fine. She did well in her Math test and apparently that Olivia girl’s a regular Veruca Salt but aside from that, she’s ok. She did, um...”
Kurt felt his skin rush hot. He had to finish the sentence because if anyone deserved to be informed about Bella’s concerns, it was Blaine.
“What is it?” Blaine looked fleetingly stricken.
“It’s just, she did say that she hadn’t spent time with you last night. I think she felt a bit disappointed and mentioned that there was shouting.” Kurt could feel his chest tighten with nerves, words wavering.
“Oh,” Blaine whispered. He took a moment and after peeking into Bella’s room to check on her, he opened his door wide and gestured for Kurt to enter. He did, perching on the edge of the bed and crossing his legs.
The room was traditional looking, dark walls with bright spots of colour, accessories arranged artistically on available surfaces. There were books and records, DVDs and notepads everywhere; ornaments and figurines decorating the edges of shelves with a cool clock on one wall next to Blaine’s large and gilded mirror. The room was fascinating and Kurt’s every interior design-loving synapse fired madly.
“I like your room,” he said finally, breaking the silence.
Blaine appeared to blush, shrugging. “It’s a haven, I guess. Bella says it’s like I’m an old man. I suppose she could be right.”
“Old is best.”
Blaine looked up, catching Kurt’s eye with a smirk. “That’s exactly what I tell her.”
Kurt busied himself to avoid the silence, tilting his head to read the book titles – plenty of acceptable authors. Blaine had taste.
“About last night,” Blaine began, wheeling his desk chair close to the bed. Kurt waited with an expression he knew was offering very little except willingness to listen. “I didn’t mean to shut her out; it was just my mom and dad. I have a show in a couple of weeks and I wanted to know if they’d come. My dad made some excuse about prepping for witness interview for a case they’re working on and clearly as a senior partner, he can’t find others to catch the slack when he needs to. I got frustrated. Recently, um...”
Blaine’s eyes were despondent, achingly full of unresolved emotion.
Kurt dived in, changing the subject. “Bella said you were playing in here? Where was the music coming from?”
Blaine smiled animatedly and crawled to the edge of the bed, pulling out a large keyboard. “I play a lot. We used to have a Baby Grand but Dad sold it when we moved here. He said there wasn’t room for it. I saved up and bought this a few months ago when I auditioned for a couple of groups at the beginning of the semester. I figured I’d want a way to rehearse without having to trek onto campus.”
Blaine shrugged, pushing it back under. He crossed over and sat beside Kurt, hands in his lap playing with the edges of his jeans.
“I didn’t know you performed. Why didn’t you say?” Kurt asked.
“I don’t know,” Blaine laughed out, frowning to himself. “I used to perform a lot back in school. Dalton had a Glee Club and we used to compete – “
“Wait. The Warblers?”
Immediately, Blaine’s eyes widened. “Yeah. How did you know that?”
Kurt let out a wry laugh, suddenly at complete and utter ease. Blaine turned a little to face him on the bed and all signs of tension were gone. “I was a member of the New Directions. We always worried about competing with you guys but never had to. There was something slightly intimidating about a sea of boys in blazers no matter how dreamy the eight part harmony. You were always in separate heats to us. We always came up against Vocal Adrenaline instead.” With a bemused eye-roll, Kurt smiled. “It’s a shame we didn’t find ourselves competing.”
“It wouldn’t have been a good platform for a friendship, really.” Kurt couldn’t tear his eyes from Blaine’s and their sudden twinkle.
“Oh and why is that?”
“We’d have beaten you and no budding relationship can survive that.”
“I don’t know,” Kurt mused playfully, smirking. “There’s nothing like a little healthy competition. It keeps things interesting.”
Blaine giggled – actually giggled – and averted his eyes. “I’ll keep that in mind.”
Kurt shuffled back onto the bed, every nerve ending fizzing deliciously at how close Blaine was. His knee was perpendicular to Kurt’s leg and the smooth change in Blaine’s expression prompted Kurt’s stomach to tighten, desperation tugging at him to do something – anything – to take it away.
“They are going to come, by the way. My parents, I mean,” Blaine said quietly, glancing down.
Kurt’s heart ached. “That’s a good thing. I’m pleased.”
Blaine’s eyes slinked upwards and he smiled softly. “Thank you. Last night was nothing I’m not used to but it feels like I might have got through to them a little bit. Anything’s progress, right?”
Blaine hadn’t spoke at any length about their issues. He’d cryptically slipped comments into conversations and Kurt had pieced them together puzzle-like until the picture was clear enough. From what he’d heard that day with all of the shouting, it was a story all too typical. It shouldn’t be but it was. Watching Blaine latch onto a slither of hope was agonizing. Parents had a responsibility to love their children despite it all and in the face of even the worst decisions; but Kurt was aware that not every father was Burt Hummel and regardless of how much love William Anderson held for his son, the fact that Blaine was beyond thrilled about is attendance at a single revue performance spoke volumes. And not in a way Kurt found acceptable.
“Of course. I don’t suppose I’m any help on the matter but if they’re coming to see you then that can only be a good thing.”
For a moment, Blaine was silent and looking down. He laughed under his breath bitterly. “I’d talk about,” he sighed, “but then I’d never explain it properly. I’d never be able to make it all make sense because I don’t even think I understand why it’s all a mess. I’d try but then I’d make, um, I’d make this,” – he waved his hand between them – “about them and I don’t want that. At all.”
Something bloomed low in Kurt’s stomach and he swallowed hard. This. It was a frighteningly insignificant word but the way Blaine said it made it feel precious, treasured. The room felt tiny.
“I understand,” was all Kurt could manage. Blaine offered a brief smile and took in a breath.
“I hope I didn’t upset Bells. I felt so bad about it but I’m no use to her when, um, well, when, you know?”
Kurt nodded sincerely and forced the best and most encouraging grin. “I’m sure she’ll live. I just don’t think she understands what’s going on.”
“Makes two of us,” Blaine spat out but turned to Kurt, his expression pained. “Sorry. It’s just – “
“Look, Blaine.” Kurt sucked in a breath and held himself tall and steady as he always had when delivering a particularly important speech to the New Directions or when he entered a room of people he didn’t know. It was a coping technique at times but, mostly, it helped to level his head. Blaine deserved that much. “I know how it feels to be alone in something. I know exactly how hard it can get to fathom why someone would find something so natural and inherent in a person, so offensive. I can’t understand those people and I can’t say I wish to but I can deal with them and I have done many times in my life. I have never had to deal with my family in that way because, as I’ve said, I was very fortunate to have a dad who was endlessly supportive. But I suffered and I was very much alone for a long time. You have Bella but she’s small and I know you protect her from as much as you can but when she notices something is wrong, that’s the time to realise that you maybe shouldn’t be trying to do this by yourself.”
“I have no choice,” Blaine said, his voice small.
“It may seem that way now but nobody is so blind to the pain of others. I know you don’t want to talk about things and I have no right to push my nose in your business but we’re friends, right?”
Blaine stammered on his words but his eyes spoke for him – gratitude, shock and an unfortunate amount of fear. “Right.”
“I learned the value of friends a long time ago. I also learned the importance of wit and, as Patti once sang ‘with one look, you’ll know all you’ll need to know’. You don’t have to deal with all of this. I won’t pretend to know how you feel but all you have are your feelings and you have to hold them close. Cling to them like Marilyn clung to diamonds. Only you know how you feel and how much it hurts. You don’t have to put up with that. If you’ve exhausted yourself then you focus on you and you only. You do what makes you happy and claw your way out of what makes you sad. ‘Starting now, I bat a thousand’ and all that.”
Kurt breathed out, shuddering. After a moment, Blaine glanced up and pressed his lips together but Kurt saw them trembling, straining to stop. “You quoted Patti LuPone.”
Blaine went to laugh but his face crumbled, exhausted. “Nobody can argue with her.”
There was a certain wetness to Blaine’s eyes that was distracting but Kurt, in an attempt to lighten the mood, slapped his hands on his knees and sucked in air through his teeth. “No. Patti is my goddess divine and nobody even comes close. I have plenty of inspirational anecdotes to whip out when the moment calls for them. Patti’s a singing self help book and she doesn’t know it.”
Blaine was laughing now and Kurt felt the relief warm inside. “She doesn’t. I love Being Alive. It’s one of those songs, you know? The ones that make you feel.”
Kurt blossomed, grinning wildly. “Oh it’s a personal favourite. She’s breathtaking.”
There was a small knock at the door and Blaine was quick to respond in opening it. “Bee, Is Kurt here?”
Bella’s voice was tentative as Blaine opened the door fully. She was chewing her lip and leaning from one foot to the other. “Are you all set up?” Kurt asked, brightly.
She nodded. “Can we play now?”
Not one to deny her anything when she was quite clearly a little uneasy, Kurt indulged her straight away. “Of course. Only, this time remember what we said about colours being good together. I won’t wear orange and pink even if it is just a game.” Kurt rolled his eyes playfully at Blaine who didn’t look away, his expression so fused with a deep warmth that sent Kurt’s toes curling in his boots.
As they were leaving, Kurt felt pressure on his arm. “Um, Kurt?” He turned, eyes raised, as Blaine leaned in a little closer. “Thank you for what you said.”
Kurt breathed in slow and smiled wide making it last all the way into the next room, heading to join Bella for an hour of costume related mischief.
TO PART 4B
~tbc - Part 4B will be up tomorrow evening :) Please do let me know what you think!
For those who HAVEN'T heard Patti's version of "Being Alive" - seriously, go listen here. It's simply insane how wonderful she is. The fact it's Sondheim just makes me giddy.
Parts of this made me think of Kurt AND Blaine at very different points and I adore the lyrics so if you don't know the song, I thought I'd share :)
Someone to hold you too close.
Someone to hurt you too deep.
Someone to sit in you chair,
To ruin your sleep,
Someone to need you too much.
Someone to know you too well.
Someone to pull you up short,
And put you through hell,
Someone you have to let in,
Someone whose feelings you spare,
Someone who, like it or not,
Will want you to share
A little, a lot.
Someone to crowd you with love.
Someone to force you to care.
Someone to make you come through,
Who'll always be there,
As frightened as you,
Of being alive,
Make me confused.
Mock me with praise.
Let me be used.
Vary my days.
Somebody crowd me with love.
Somebody force me to care.
Somebody let me come through,
I'll always be there,
As frightened as you,
To help us survive,