Word Count: ~3,400
Summary: Christmas Day: Puck makes friends wherever he goes, Wes has an announcement, Blaine and his father finally talk.
Author's notes: The next piece of this series will likely be posted within a week because it is deeply interwoven with this part and the previous.
The series so far:
Boston: Following Home | These Thousand Names for Gratitude | All the Honesty of Politics | Circles as the Dark Winds Down | The Distance Between Ohio and Boston | All the Pretty Little Horses | Languages You Don't Even Know | Fauna and Flora | Where Water Doesn't Speak | Under Glass We Are Expected to Blossom | You Were Someone Else Before We Came Here
D.C.: Strategies and Tactics | The Many Shades of Sugar | When Sea Levels Rise | The History of Sand | Tales of Minor Gods | A Little Bit Ruined | The Numbers Held by Ghosts
“Go back to sleep,” Kurt says, rolling out of bed ten minutes before his alarm. It's still dark, and Blaine mumbles something incoherent at him.
He pulls on Blaine's bathrobe instead of his own. It's heavier, terrycloth in stead of silk, and more modest for just that reason. There are an awful lot of people sleeping on their floor – well, Rachel's on the couch, but Santana's propped up in a sleeping bag against the wall by the door to the deck, and Tina's sprawled out on the air mattress in the middle of the room. Puck, Finn, and Artie, and both sets of parents are at various hotels, and for that, Kurt's grateful; women have always obligated him to less math.
There's nothing he actually has to do at this hour, not yet. He set the turkey brining last night, and he can't really start the clatter of side dish preparation while his guests are asleep. Still, he feels the need to survey the kitchen.
“What are you doing?” Santana asks, plucking at the sleeve of the bathrobe with distaste.
She's snuck up on him, and Kurt doesn't know why he's surprised.
He sighs. “Not sleeping.”
She looks down at the ice-filled cooler the turkey is in. “Did you think it was going to run away?”
He considers a quip about its reaction to her presence and then shrugs instead.
“You want me to clear everyone out of here so you two can have a morning?”
“I can't ask you to wake my guests up before seven,” he says.
She arches an eyebrow. “Seriously, Hummel? Have you forgotten how much of an asshole I am?”
Blaine wakes blearily to the click of their bedroom door, Kurt pulling out of the borrowed bathrobe and then yanking his pajama top over his head. There's noise from their living room, a lot of it, but he can't quite make it out.
“What are you doing?” he manages to ask.
“Santana's taking everyone to breakfast,” Kurt says.
When he climbs back into bed naked, Blaine curls up against him and falls back asleep.
Later, Kurt will wake him with a kiss, a hand job, something, to remind him that he is real.
It's ten before Santana brings the girls back, and Kurt has no idea how she's filled the time, but the turkey's in the oven and Blaine's in the shower. The boys have called to say they'll be over around noon; the parents are expected at one; and Wes should be walking in twenty minutes before the food goes on the table.
The boys show up late and hung over, Artie muttering something about a strip club. Santana high-fives him and then gets angry she wasn't invited.
Kurt is appalled. Also, slightly boggled that they'd found anything open considering the hour they'd left.
“Whatever you did last night,” he says, “you are not to mention it in front of Blaine's parents.”
“Hey, can we not mention it in front of my mom too?” Finn asks, hopeful and a little nervous.
Kurt smirks. “You should have thought about that before you did it,” he says.
“I was sort of trying not to,” Finn says.
Rachel begins lecturing no one in particular about the validity of sex work as a career choice.
Puck says something lewd, and Tina gives a talk to the hand gesture to the entire room before stalking out onto the deck.
“They're just trying to wind you up,” Blaine murmurs in Kurt's ear as he fidgets with the ruffle on the pink gingham apron his boyfriend's had since high school.
He purses his lips. “No. They're not,” he says. And he's not annoyed that his friends went to a strip club, not really. It's that they're ungrateful and rude and completely oblivious to how hard this all is.
Blaine's parents arrive before Burt and Carole. Kurt waves from the kitchen and lets Blaine deal with them, because he is flat out of cope and at least candied sweet potatoes are unlikely to say anything inappropriate or do anything rude.
It startles him, when Mr. Anderson wanders into the kitchen, places a hand on his shoulder and asks how he's holding up.
Kurt takes a long blink and a deep breath, because suddenly he just wants to yell at Mr. Anderson for being uptight and gullible and taken in by a damn gingham apron, but Kurt gives him a weak smile instead.
“I think the way it's supposed to,” he says.
“I usually do our turkey. If you need any help, let me know,” he says, and then he's gone, and Kurt has to blink up at the ceiling so as not to stamp his feet in frustration.
The arrival of his own parents doesn't actually make anything better, because they don't just want to offer help, they really want to help, and there is not enough room, and no, Carole may not take the mixer out to the living room to whip the potatoes.
Kitchen things happen in the kitchen. In secret. Just like bedroom things happen in the bedroom. Also in secret.
Forty minutes before the food is even supposed to be ready Finn starts hovering around the tables they've shoved together to make room for thirteen.
“Do not,” Kurt says sharply, “rearrange the seating cards. You are seated where you are seated for optimum social flow. Respect the occasion, respect your hosts, AND DO NOT TOUCH THE CARDS, FINN!”
“Did you write these out by hand, dude?” he asks, putting his back down.
“Blaine did,” Kurt says shortly, and Blaine shrugs awkwardly.
“Kurt still has the best freakouts,” Tina says to Artie.
He nods. “Total quality.”
“Did you guys really go to a strip club last night?” she asks.
“What do you mean, not exactly?” Tina asks incredulously.
“Puck met a hooker in the hotel bar,” Finn says cheerfully and far, far too loudly.
“I'm hoping this is new slang I don't understand, Finn,” Burt calls out from across the room.
In the kitchen, Kurt presses his forehead against the refrigerator and moans in dismay.
This was not the plan, Kurt thinks, when Blaine sneaks up behind him in the kitchen and curves an arm around his waist.
But Blaine's father is watching and Kurt's still being the girl (he thinks it always and only with vicious air quotes) so maybe it will all work anyway.
Both he and Blaine jump when the buzzer rings.
“That'll be Wes,” Kurt says, and he feels Blaine grin shyly against the back of his neck. “Wait, is this weird?” Kurt suddenly asks turning in the circle of his arms.
“You mean did I fantasize about what holidays with him would look like when he was the first boy I'd ever kissed and he had no idea what was going on with his brain or his dick or anything else?”
“Yeah,” Kurt says, amused, awkward, and glad Blaine is talking softly.
“Yeah,” Blaine says, “but it always looked like this.”
“I don't --”
“He was always going to be the memory of something that didn't happen, and I knew that long before he did.” Blaine kisses him, and then is gone, answering the door, Wes hugging him with one arm and letting Blaine press his face into his neck as he always does.
It doesn't seem weird to Kurt, but he suddenly realizes it's probably going to seem weird to everyone else.
The meal makes it to the table only ten minutes later than planned.
“Shouldn't someone say grace?” Mr. Anderson asks placidly when Kurt moves to cut the turkey without much fanfare.
Blaine reminds him Kurt's an atheist.
“I'm Jewish,” Rachel blurts out into the silence. “And I'm eating tofurky anyway.”
“Rachel Berry, you are terrifying and hilarious,” Kurt says calmly, still holding the carving knife and serving fork over the bird.
Mr. Anderson looks from Rachel to Burt for help.
Burt holds up his hands. “These boys cooked the meal, figure it's their call,” he says.
Everyone looks around the table nervously. Finn stammers something that doesn't quite turn into words and Artie looks more uncomfortable than Kurt's ever seen him.
“I'll do it,” Tina blurts.
Everyone turns to her.
“You're Jewish too,” Puck snaps.
“I know that,” she snaps right back, and then takes a deep breath. “Can I Kurt?” she asks.
He nods his head at her to get it over with.
“Today's an important day to a lot of people for a lot of different reasons. I think this Christmas is probably an unexpected one for all of us – some of us don't celebrate it and all of us are used to Ohio being home. But home is where the people you stay loyal to are, even if it's not easy,” she looks at Kurt, “or not what you planned,” she looks at Blaine's father. “So maybe we should take a moment to be grateful that a bunch of people who believe some stuff we may or may not created an excuse for all of us to be together today, in Kurt and Blaine's beautiful home, eating more food than is probably decent.”
There are a few amen's around the table, and Blaine has to nudge Kurt to start carving the turkey.
“Thank you, Tina,” Kurt says, not looking up from the bird to her.
“I would have gone for something more formal,” Rachel declares, cheerily, before adding, more softly, “but I didn't know what to say.”
“Hey, can I talk to you for a second?” Wes says, grabbing Blaine's wrist in the kitchen between dinner and dessert as they try to do some minimal cleanup between courses.
“Of course,” Blaine says.
“Not here,” Wes clarifies.
Kurt tips his head towards the bedroom.
“You too, Kurt, if you can get away,” he says.
“In a minute.” It's not that Kurt can't put the dish he's washing down now, it's that, like when accepting someone's offer to pick up the check, he knows he needs to decline once.
He counts to one hundred and twenty before turning off the water, drying his hands, and heading for the bedroom himself. Hilariously, Blaine has left the door half open, and it reminds Kurt of his father's rules in that year before everything became like this.
“You don't have to do that,” Blaine's saying.
“Do what?” Kurt asks from the doorway.
“I'm proposing to Pris on New Year's,” Wes says.
Kurt gives a giddy clap. “Wait. Blaine, why are you trying to talk him out of that?”
“I'm not,” he says sitting down on the edge of the bed.
“She knows this is coming, but we've agreed, we're not getting married or setting a date or anything until you two can.”
“You don't have to do that,” Kurt says, a little stunned.
“No,” Wes says calmly. “She doesn't. But I do. And you know why.”
“Nothing... none of that obligates you to --”
“I'm doing it for me, not for you, and she's fine with it. I just wanted you to know. Both of you.”
“We're not even engaged yet,” Kurt says, even as he fidgets with his ring nervously. “And you don't know what the court's going to do, and --”
While Kurt's being flustered and moved (and between dinner and desert, really?), Blaine reaches up to take Wes's hand.
“Thank you,” he says, squeezing.
There's a knock at the door, and Carole sticks her head inside. “You boys all right in here?”
They all turn to her, like they've been caught at something. Blaine seems unable to let go of Wes's hand, and Kurt just nods mutely before clearing his throat.
“We'll be right out,” he manages.
As she closes the door Kurt turns back in time to see Blaine kiss Wes's hand and then drop it, laughing delightedly. “The look on her face!”
Kurt chuckles and shakes his head. He loves his ridiculous boyfriend, so much. And one day, he really is going to marry him.
“So what was the secret conference about,” Burt asks, when Kurt's cutting Finn his second slice of chocolate peppermint cake.
“I'm proposing to my girlfriend on New Year's Eve,” Wes says smoothly. “I just wanted these guys to know first.”
“Good for you, kid.” Burt frowns in approval. “Seems funny, though.”
“How so?” Wes asks, and Kurt can tell Blaine wants to laugh at the obviously fake innocence in their friend's voice.
“When I asked Kurt's mother to marry me, there were the guys I told way in advance, when I was thinking about it, 'cause I wanted them to back me up, help me be sure, and the guys I told after I'd done it. Weren't any guys I told in the middle.”
“I've never been unsure about Priscilla. And I've never kept secrets from Blaine.”
“Wes wanted us to know that they're not going to set a date or get married until we can,” Kurt says. It feels terrifying.
“Why would you do that?” Mr. Anderson blurts out.
“Because it's the right thing to do,” Wes says calmly, but he's clearly startled by the abruptness of the question.
“It's complicated,” Kurt says quietly.
“I don't see how you can expect that of your friends,” Rachel says as if she somehow might get engaged tomorrow.
“I don't. We don't,” Blaine says.
“It is a fucking wonder her fathers didn't smother her in her sleep years ago, I swear,” Tina mutters under her breath.
Under the table, Puck kicks her.
“Hey,” Wes says, clear that everything is about to go downhill, “it's a choice we're making. We're not saying it's one anyone else should be making. And, for the record, it's not political.”
Blaine finds himself blushing down at his cake.
“You know, I don't even know you, kid,” Burt says to Wes. “But my wife tells me she sees something. And then you talk about your fiance, and I feel better about it. And then the conversation keeps going, and Blaine here looks like he wants to sink through the floor, and while it's none of my business, it sort of is now and would someone like to tell me what's going on here?”
Blaine glances at Wes. It's never been anyone's story to tell but his. Those are the rules. No outing. Ever. Even if Wes is straight and has never cared.
“I was assigned as Blaine's student mentor when he came to Dalton. And we spent a long time trying to be together, I don't even know why --”
Santana mutters something obscene under her breath as a suggested explanation.
“I can't kick you, but I can run you over with my chair later,” Artie informs her.
She gives him the finger.
“But I was straight and in love with him, and eventually we stopped being fifteen and incompetent and got on with our lives. But he's my best friend, and I know my life could be different than it is. And I'm not going to get married when he can't. I'm not ashamed of it, but none of you needed to know this, and I think I resent you asking,” Wes says, his assured manner never wavering.
“I'm sorry,” Burt says. “Thank you for telling us.” He sounds ashamed, and it breaks Kurt's heart.
“You always said it wasn't a choice,” Mr. Anderson says.
“Don't,” Blaine's mother says, putting a hand on his arm.
Finn takes a ridiculously huge bite of cake, and Kurt has the inappropriate urge to snap at him about stress eating, but he turns on Mr. Anderson instead.
“What does it even matter?” he asks.
“First of all, you completely missed Wes's point, but whatever, I don't even have time for that. Choice, that's all we do every day. I chose these ingredients, you chose to be here, we chose this apartment, I choose your son over and over again even when he is ridiculous and annoying and overworked and distracting and depressed and tying himself in knots over you. I choose him. And you should be grateful for that. And for him. Because he never had a choice in you, and yet he wanted you to be here today.”
“Kurt?” Blaine says softly.
“My father and I are going to go take a walk now, okay?” he says, standing. Kurt thinks he is trembling slightly.
“And we'll do carols and presents when we get back.”
Kurt nods. “Sounds good,” he says, not trusting his voice not to be watery.
“Thank you,” he says, and gives him a chaste kiss.
They walk in silence for some time, not dressed quite warm enough.
“Kurt had all these plans for this,” Blaine says after a while. “Well, for you.”
“What do you mean?”
“He's always... he likes to be in control, manipulate things, make stuff do what he wants. I don't blame him. I mean, his mom died when he was a kid, right? And then he spent all of school being thrown into dumpsters and stuff. A lot of his life has really sucked.”
Mr. Anderson makes a considering noise.
“Even with.... even with some of the stuff that's happened to me --”
“The dance,” his father interjects, but Blaine just shrugs.
“My life hasn't been like Kurt's. It's been a lot easier. Especially when I was small. You gave me that. You and mom, and it means I can be a little bit gentler with the world. Kurt thinks....” Blaine stops for a moment, this is suddenly all so hard. “Kurt thinks you don't have a problem with me being gay.”
“Well, for the record, I can't tell. But he thinks, and I guess I do too, that you somehow think I'm not enough of a man because of it. So I've spent the last two days dealing with him clattering around in that ridiculous apron thinking that if he plays 1950s housewife hard enough you'll eventually look at me and see what you want to see. And I've got to tell you, it makes me crazy. Because I love all the things Kurt is, some of which you would never understand, but I hate when he's playacting for you. So if you could just tell me what it is you want, so I can decide if I'm going to keep putting us through this, I would really appreciate that.”
“I just want to know who you are,” his father says.
“Then why did you send me away?” Blaine asks, amazed that his voice doesn't sound more anguished. He is also unsure of whether he means Dalton or Boston.
“I wasn't ready to listen,” he says.
“And you are now?” Blaine asks sharply.
“No, I don't think so,” he admits. “But I think I'm getting there.”
Blaine nods. It's something, but it may not mean anything at all.
“So, Wes, huh?” his dad asks after another long silence.
Blaine nods and laughs. “God, it was such a mess,” he says running a hand through his hair.
Carole holds Kurt's hand as they wait for Blaine and his father to return, while Rachel talks Mrs. Anderson's ear off nervously about nothing in particular and, for no discernible reason, tells her about the time she kissed Blaine.
Wes sits with Burt, and everyone else tries to pretend like nothing's wrong.
When Blaine and his father get back there is no acknowledgement of what has passed, and Kurt knows that he will have to wait until tonight, in the dark, with Blaine's skin bare against his own to hear any of what has happened.
“Just let me have some coffee and get my hands back to room temperature, and then we'll have singing, okay?” Blaine says.
Carole relinquishes Kurt's hand.
“I could play the first one,” Puck offers.
“If you play 'Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer' I'm kicking you out,” Kurt says.
Tina and Artie immediately start singing it without accompaniment. Finn joins in late, and Rachel looks personally insulted. Santana smiles.
Later, they pile into several cars to go to the bar in time for Kurt's shift.
Mr. Anderson expresses surprise that it's not empty.
Kurt considers, for a moment, giving him a lecture on gay Christmas or saying something flirty and wicked, but instead he just sighs.
“Come on, you can't tell me you don't feel like you need a drink after today.”
Mr. Anderson smiles knowingly and give a little nod of acquiescence.
“Then I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt now,” Kurt says, “and say thank you. Go buy your son a beer. Because he loves you, and I have to go sing.”