Fic: Shatter The Walls For A New Sun {2/10}

Title Shatter The Walls For A New Sun 2/10
Rating PG-13 (will go up in later chapters)
Word Count 5,800/15,100
Summary AU in which Blaine was raised by highly religious parents and escapes to NYC with Quinn, moving in next door to Rachel and Kurt. (Alternately: Bible!Blaine meets NYC!Kurt. Shit happens.)
Notes As I told a bunch of people last week, this is sort of my kind & sweet escape from fandom and WOW BOY is that going to be accurate as of late! The religion discussion that happens in this chapter is about as angsty as it’s gonna get and about as deep into the religious stuff as I’ll delve (aka - we’re not done with it, that would be silly, but nothing will get heavier than what’s here). Screw Tuesdays, I’m just gonna update this as fast as I can. Yay fluff? ♥ (Also I could not resist the Cooper cameo. Whoops.)

Prologue // Chapter 1 // LJ // AO3

*

October is upon them before Kurt knows it, bringing a welcome chill in the air, and he hates to admit it, but he misses waking up to Blaine’s rumpled, sleepy self on the couch every morning.

“Don’t think I don’t notice you still looking for him,” Rachel states, eating breakfast as Kurt passes to the bathroom. “Every morning you glance over at the couch and he’s been gone almost as long as he stayed with us.”

Kurt snaps his eyes forward, making a note to be more mindful of his wandering eye in the future.

It’s not like he doesn’t see Blaine anymore. They still see each other on the weekends or sometimes during the week when time permits, for coffee or dinner, usually with Quinn and Rachel tagging along, and sometimes if Kurt works late, he’s in the city long enough to catch the train back to Bushwick with Blaine after he gets off his job at the church. It’s nice to have someone to talk to, someone he feels instantly connected with aside from Rachel - he made friends with most of the other interns at Vogue, but all of them were in college and went back to wherever their studies took them in the spring or summer. He hasn’t latched onto the new crew yet.

He walks past Isabelle’s office one day and she calls him in. “So,” she says with a quirk of her eyebrows, waiting for him to sit down. “You seem awfully chipper lately. You must really like autumn with the extra spring in your step, because you’re reminding me very much of the Kurt Hummel I hired last year, all bright-eyed and full of hope … or is there just a new man in your life,” she asks conspiratorially, and oh god, has he really been that obvious?

“I - no! Well, yes, but we’re just friends -”

Just friends? Well, tell me all about this friend of yours.”

So, Kurt tells Isabelle about Blaine and Quinn, keeping the story as brief as possible and when he’s done, she sighs happily and says, “Oh, Kurt, he’s even more clueless than you were when you first got here. Is there anything I can do to help?” She drums her fingertips atop her desk, deep in thought and Kurt tries not to panic, knowing he’ll shoot down whatever she comes up with. “I know! Does he need a makeover too like we did for Rachel? You could bring him here -”

“No,” Kurt answers quickly, thinking back to his comment about Blaine’s clothes, because just - no. His brain suddenly is drifting anyway though, to helping Blaine in and out of outfits, to making sure they fit just so, and he really, really, cannot be thinking this way at work. “No, like I already told Rachel - I’ve got it all under control.”

“Really. Because what it sounds like to me is that you’ve known this guy for six weeks and no one is making a move.” Isabelle tilts her head and stares pointedly at him.

“It’s … complicated,” Kurt replies, scrunching his face up.

“You’re making it complicated, sweetie! Life is complicated. It’s too short to wait for it to become uncomplicated.” She stares at him for a good long while, as if he’s actually going to break in front of her before sighing and shooing him off. “Don’t wait too long or I’ll start meddling again.”

Kurt walks out of the office as fast as possible.

He isn’t quite sure what is making him so cautious around Blaine. He’s gotten a few subtle hints that he thinks Blaine’s attracted to him, but Isabelle is right, they’ve just been dancing around each other, and Kurt’s not sure why. On the surface, they get along great. He’s not sure if he’s ever been able to talk to someone so easily, but underneath - he and Blaine are fundamentally very different people. He’s not sure if they would actually work in a relationship together, and it’s easier to just go along with Blaine as his friend conflict-free rather than open up the possibility of losing him over something more.

It’s safer this way. At least for now.

The rest of the people in his life certainly can’t take the hint though, because a few weeks later, Kurt is out with Quinn, Rachel, and Blaine in the park near their apartments after a late lunch, sitting on a bench with Quinn as Rachel and Blaine run through the leaves on the ground like little kids, simply hyped up on espresso instead of sugar.

“We certainly didn’t get to see the leaves change like this in southern California,” Quinn points out with a smile as she watches the pair, sipping her own chai latte. “He likes you, you know. Blaine.” Kurt must look utterly confused when his head snaps away from Rachel and Blaine towards her, because she chuckles and turns her head further towards him. “He doesn’t know what to do with that information, but he likes you. He’s been praying about it, mostly.”

And there it is, out in the open, the elephant in the room as to why this will probably never work. “Why doesn’t he just tell me?” Kurt asks, tearing his eyes away from Quinn and sipping his mocha. He watches the leaves flutter down from the tree above where Blaine and Rachel are standing, as Blaine reaches down to pick one out of her hair.

“Because he thinks he’s out of your league. He’s never done this before, Kurt,” Quinn explains, an amused tone to her voice. “That’s why I figured I’d help him out and clue you in.”

“Everyone sure does want to be helpful,” Kurt mutters, and Quinn must not hear him. Blaine and Rachel seem to be done with their leaf silliness, walking over to them, so Kurt whispers louder, “He does realize just a year ago, I was a clueless kid from Lima, Ohio. Deep down I still am.” He locks eyes with Quinn to drive home his point before turning back to Blaine and Rachel, fast approaching, and pretending like the conversation never happened.

***

The following Saturday Kurt knows Quinn is working at the library in the afternoon and Rachel’s out with friends from NYADA (and he’s so proud she’s made actual friends other than Brody), so Kurt takes the opportunity to be the mature person in the situation and go talk to Blaine about what he’s worried about. If they have any chance moving forward, which he’s still not sure either of them are ready for, he’s got to get this out on the table.

Kurt knocks on the door and takes a calming breath and realizes he should have texted before just showing up even though he just walked next door. Blaine opens the door with a wide grin anyway. “Kurt! To what do I owe the pleasure?”

“Hey! Are you busy?” he asks, smiling back at him, and Blaine steps aside to let him in.

“No, no, I was just reading, here, let me clean up so you can sit down.” There’s a coffee table in front of the futon now and Blaine moves his pencil and bIble to it, and of course, how fitting, because this is Kurt’s life. It can’t get more ironic than this.

“I - well, actually, that’s kind of what I was wondering if we could talk about,” Kurt says nervously as he sits down on the futon, his voice coming out much more high-pitched than he’d like. He hates it when that happens.

“My … bible?” Blaine asks, obviously confused, his head rolling to the side of his neck. He settles on the couch himself, waiting for Kurt to continue.

“Sort of, because sometimes … well, sometimes you make me nervous. If I’m being completely honest. And it’s not you, it’s me, and I thought maybe if I tried to explain some of that, it would help with all of  that. I’m sure you’ve noticed that I’m not really into the whole god thing, oh -” Kurt pauses then, and takes a deep breath, because the next words out of his mouth were either going to be hell or god, or something equally offensive to Blaine, and he’s really been trying to watch himself around him regarding that. “I’m an atheist.”

“I know. Rachel told me.” Blaine’s mouth is twitching at the corners and he’s finding Kurt’s breakdown amusing, the jerk.

Kurt wants to smack him. He rolls his eyes instead for good measure. “Anyway, my point is, when I was sixteen, my dad had a heart attack. We didn’t think he was going to make it. I needed my friends to be there for me - they were all I had. I needed them to be a shoulder for me to cry on. I needed to know they would be there to help me figure shit out afterwards if he didn’t make it. All they wanted to do was pray with me, and then they all toldl me I was wrong when I didn’t want to let them.”

Blaine’s eyebrows jump up against his hairline. Kurt’s name falls from his lips, but Kurt just shakes his head because if he doesn’t finish now, he might not. “He pulled through and they just never really got it and I didn’t have the strength to explain. I really resented them for a long time because of it. And with you, we get along so well - I can’t remember the last time I hit it off with someone like this. I’m really happy for that, don’t get me wrong, but because of that experience, I just keep waiting for something like that to happen with you, and I was talking about Quinn about something else and I just realized - I don’t know, that I should tell you all of this, but now that I actually am, I just sound crazy.”

“You don’t sound crazy,” Blaine murmurs, reaching out to take Kurt’s hands in his comfortingly, palm to palm, and oh god, how is he supposed to concentrate now?

“I do, it’s okay, you don’t have to lie to me,” Kurt replies with a sigh. “This is building a stronger friendship, right? Telling you my neuroses?”

“Sure,” Blaine says with a laugh. “Maybe we’ll save mine for another time.” Kurt knows it’s his turn to talk, but Blaine is currently rubbing circles into his palms with his thumbs and he just can’t bring himself to. “Kurt, you know I would never do that, right? Force my beliefs on you?”

“Why not?” Kurt blurts out, not really meaning to. “I mean,” he tries to explain, because Blaine is looking at him oddly again. “You obviously think I’m wrong. My fundamental belief system is the complete opposite of yours. Doesn’t that drive you mad?”

“You obviously think I spend more time than I do thinking about this,” Blaine teases. “Kurt, I’ve always thought a person’s relationship with God is a deeply personal thing. My brother and I - we’ve gotten into some heated debates over it because we really see things differently. Obviously you’re set in your beliefs and have been for some time. Anything I say or do isn’t going to change that and I wouldn’t want to try. Do I think that there are people out there who are lost and searching for something, waiting for me to share something with them? Sure, but I have to be looking for it, and they have to be open to it. It’s all about timing, and I think it’s a delicate balance, and I think a lot of people, like your friends, go about things the wrong way.”

Blaine heaves a sigh, letting go of Kurt’s hands and shifting over on the futon until their sides are pressed up flush against each other. “I spent all of my time at Christian schools and church growing up. All of my friends had the same upbringing as me and almost all of them turned their back on me the instant they found out I was gay. You and Rachel barely knew me, didn’t know a single thing about me, and offered me a place to sleep. You’re the first people I’ve formed lasting friendships with that were different from me and Quinn, but that doesn’t matter, not even a bit. I’ll never forget what you did for us. You’re a good person, Kurt, deep down, and that means more to me than anything else.”

“It helped you were actually able to communicate with us … the lady who lived here before you spoke maybe three words to us the whole time and just stared at us a lot.” Kurt glances over at Blaine. He’s not quite sure if good person applies to him, he knows he can be petty and selfish and he’s nowhere near perfect, but when he’s around Blaine, well … he certainly wants to be one.

Isn’t that what the basis of a relationship should be? Being with someone who brings out the best in you, who makes you want to be a better person?

“So, that was a lot of information at once, and I don’t mean to change the subject, but what were you and Quinn talking about?” Blaine asks, and oh god, he knows.

Kurt swallows down his swears and closes his eyes briefly to try to figure out what to do. He still doesn’t want to rush things, even though they’ve moved past this, it still seems too soon. “I … I’d rather not say right now. Timing, right? You said it yourself, after all.”

Blaine ducks his head and laughs, and if he’s figured out for sure what he was talking about with Quinn, he never lets on. “Indeed. Timing.”

Kurt twists his mouth into a smile and pats his knee. “Come on. Let me buy you a latte for listening to my insanity. It’s the least I can do.”

They grab lattes and go for a walk in the gorgeous fall weather and maybe Kurt’s crazy, but the air feels different between them. As if the last wall built up between them has been broken and he feels completely relaxed and at ease around Blaine, even more so than before. They get caught up on stories from each other’s weeks, even though they text far more often during the week than Kurt would admit to anyone. It’s still nice to get the full in person details as opposed to the quick one and two liners they send each other.

By the time they get back to the apartments, the sun is starting to sink low behind the trees and buildings. Blaine gets a text from Quinn, asking if he (and Kurt, once she finds out they’re together) would like to grab dinner, so they tell her they’ll meet her at 3B. Another quick text to Rachel loops her in on their plans as well. What they don’t expect to find when they make their way up the stairs is a different visitor standing between the two apartments, a tall man who looks familiar, but Kurt can’t place immediately, and he wracks his brain before he realizes that the man is there for Blaine, not him, and he must be mistaken.

“Coop!” Blaine calls out when they reach the landing, a confused expression on his face. “What - what are you doing here?”

The man - Coop - grins widely, turning to face them and pulling Blaine into a giant bear hug. “Blaine! Baby brother! I’m here meeting some people and shooting some stuff for work and I couldn’t not stop by and see you. I would have texted but someone’s been ignoring me, so I figured, why not surprise you?”

“I - this is definitely a surprise,” Blaine admits, and Kurt can tell he’s completely shocked, and not entirely thrilled about it, if Kurt’s reading him correctly. “How do you even know where we live?”

“Quinn told me, silly. I had to know where to send her last check and when you weren’t talking to me - well, I had to check on you somehow. We’ve been in cahoots a little bit!” Coop lets go of Blaine and realizes Kurt is standing behind him, taking the whole scene in and turns towards him, flashing him another grin, this one directed straight at him and - oh. That’s when it all clicks for Kurt. That’s when he realizes where he knows Coop from.

“And who is this? Since Blaine isn’t going to introduce us, I’m Cooper Anderson, Blaine’s older brother and religious TV personality, I’m sure Blaine’s told you all about me.” He shakes Kurt’s hand firmly, and if Kurt believed in hell, he’d so be going there. Preferably immediately.

“Kurt Hummel, my roommate, Rachel, and I live next door to Blaine and Quinn, and ah, he’s told me a little bit, but I have seen your show a time or two before …” He can feel the blush start to rise on his cheeks and if he thought Blaine looked shocked when he saw Cooper standing on the landing, he really had no idea, because Blaine’s eyes look as if they’re going to bug out of his head. He’s going to have some explaining to do later.

Kurt first found out about Cooper’s nightly show, ‘The Power Within YOU,’ at a sleepover at Mercedes’ house back in their junior year. She’d been watching it, and offered to change the channel since she knew how Kurt felt about the whole Christian thing, but one look at Cooper’s charismatic smile and he told her she could finish up, at least until Rachel arrived. There was no doubt why the station had picked him. Cooper was charming enough to get thousands of homes to open their hearts (and pocketbooks) each night and call in with testimonials - at least, Kurt thought that’s how the show worked. He didn’t actually pay attention, he mainly stuck to objectifying Cooper. Cooper, who was undeniably gorgeous, always dressing in perfectly tailored suits and impeccably coiffed hair, Cooper who is somehow impossibly the brother of his neighbor-slash-friend-slash-crush.

It became almost a guilty pleasure a few weeks after that when he was flipping channels and found it again from the start (a catchy opening song, complete with somehow endearing pointing at every mention of ‘you’? Kurt was done for). It became a game, because Cooper’s expressions were so over the top - Kurt would watch the show on mute and make up dialogue for the night, having Cooper solve a crime or cue up musical numbers. A few times he got Rachel in on it too, which means whenever she arrives, he’s really not ever going to live this down.

(Come to think of it, since Kurt has fantasized about Cooper before - oh god, whether he believes in hell or not it doesn’t matter, he’s so going there - maybe this whole crush on Blaine isn’t that far fetched, maybe he has some deep, hidden fantasy of corrupting deeply religious men or something.

Or maybe he just has a thing for the Anderson men. Who both happen to be deeply religious. Yeah, he’ll stick to that.)

“Oh, really? It’s always nice to meet a fan! I have an eight-by-ten in my briefcase I can autograph for you …” And just like that, Kurt snaps out of the craziness in his head, staring at Cooper digging through his satchel, Sharpie between his teeth and Blaine looking on in disbelief.

He has to stop this. “Well - not exactly, I’m, ah, not of your faith. My friend from high school, Mercedes, used to watch your show and I caught it a few times, that’s all. It’s not necessary, really.” When Cooper doesn’t stop digging, Kurt glances over at Blaine to beg for help wordlessly.

“Coop, Kurt’s an atheist, he’s not going to hang up a signed picture of you with a giant cross and the CNT logo in the background. He’s just too nice to say. Now come inside and get out of the hall, Quinn should be home soon …” Blaine winks at Kurt before slipping the key into the lock. Cooper just stands there dumbfounded and Kurt shrugs his shoulders in apology as he passes him into the apartment.

Kurt lets Cooper and Blaine get caught up, which mainly consists of Cooper telling Blaine everything he’s missing back in LA. He does notice there’s no mention of their parents, Cooper keeping things light and happy, and Kurt understands why Blaine was apprehensive in the hallway - you definitely need a warning for Cooper. Just watching him talk is exhausting, and Kurt’s not involved in the conversation. He shoots off a text to Rachel to prepare her (You’ll never guess who Blaine’s brother is: Mr. The Power Within YOU. He’s sitting in 3B right now. KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT.).

Cooper finally is getting around to asking about Blaine’s job at the church when there’s a knock on the door, signaling Rachel’s arrival. “I’ll get it, you two keep catching up,” Kurt says, bolting from his chair and leaving the two brothers on the futon, Blaine’s expression pained.

“Is it Mercedes?” he hears Cooper ask as he ushers Rachel in, to which Rachel scrunches up her face and asks, “Why is he asking if I’m Mercedes?”

“Because I explained that we saw his show when we were over at Mercedes’ house,” Kurt replies matter of factly before turning and saying louder, “Mercedes lives in LA. This is my roommate, Rachel, remember I mentioned her too?”

“Mr. Anderson, how lovely to meet you,” Rachel says, breezing in, and Kurt realizes Rachel most likely won’t say anything because she was objectifying Cooper right alongside him. “Yes, your show was entertaining enough to catch the eye of a Jew and an atheist for a bit, so, kudos to you.”

“Please, call me Cooper,” Cooper says, shaking her hand and tossing his hair back. “And, you know, obviously I take my calling as a man of the Lord very seriously, but I do consider myself a bit of an actor, so I hold your compliment in the highest regard.”

Rachel giggles and flips her own hair over her shoulder. “Well, I do know a thing or two about acting, I’m in my second year at the New York Academy of Dramatic Arts.” Blaine and Kurt exchange a look - now neither one of them know what’s going on.

“So, Blaine,” Kurt says, clearing his throat. “If you wanted to do dinner another time now that Cooper’s in town, I understand, Rachel and I could just grab something without you -”

“Am I crashing in on your plans?” Cooper asks, finally taking his eyes off of Rachel. “I almost told Quinn about my visit, but I wanted it to be a surprise for both of you.”

“The four of us were just going to grab dinner somewhere, but we could always reschedule -” Blaine starts to say, but Cooper cuts him off.

“Even better! Let me take you all out. My treat. I can expense it to CNT and they’ll never know the difference.” He winks at Rachel charismatically and she giggles again and Kurt wonders if he actively flirts this much with everyone he meets. He can’t see this working on women of the Lord … though maybe he just doesn’t know enough about those women.

“Coop … you really don’t have to do that …” Blaine says, trailing off and shifting uncomfortably. Before he can say another word, the door opens again, Quinn waltzing through and spotting Cooper instantly, throwing her arms around him and squealing.

“You jerk, you had to make a huge entrance, didn’t you?” She kisses him on the cheek and they quickly fill her in on the new plan to go out with Cooper. Since the plan is to go someplace nicer than previously established (Cooper is suddenly engrossed in his phone, making calls to his assistant), Rachel states she’d like to head next door for a change of clothes and Kurt has to agree. He’s never one to turn down a lavish meal, even if it is at the expense of a horribly-religious TV network who probably spends a large portion of their budget trying to outlaw rights for people like him, or at least donating to politicians who do.

Actually, now that he thinks about it, that works out just fine for him.

He pulls out his Vivienne Westwood suit that he was able to snag as a gift from Isabelle, because it doesn’t get worn enough - he hates wearing it too often to Vogue, not just because he hates repeating anything more than once in a while at Vogue, but he’s an intern. As fabulous as he is, he can’t justify a full suit every day. Rachel changes into a shiny gold dress that Kurt doesn’t recognize and he wonders when she’s been shopping without him. She actually did well for herself, and he doesn’t hesitate to tell her so.

Kurt gets a text from Blaine that Cooper went back to his hotel room to change as well and he’ll be back around seven with a car and that they have reservations for seven-thirty. At six-fifty, Kurt and Rachel knock on 3B’s door, and Blaine opens it slowly.

Kurt’s actually speechless. He’s never seen Blaine look so stunning. He’s in a navy suit that’s cut perfectly and there’s slightly less gel in his hair tonight. Blaine’s eyes meet his, warm and searching, and Kurt’s mouth falls open, but his comments fall flat on his lips, and finally, Rachel squeezes between them, patting Blaine on the shoulder. “You look wonderful, Blaine! Cooper will be back soon?” Blaine nods and she pushes past him to go hug Quinn, who looks lovely herself in a burnt orange knit dress that just screams autumn, and then his attention is returned to Blaine.

“Wow,” Blaine finally says as Kurt makes his way inside. “Kurt - I wanted to say thank you for coming, I know Cooper can be a lot to deal with at once, especially if you don’t know him, and I know it’s not what we had planned at all, so thanks for being such a good sport.”

Kurt can tell how nervous Blaine is, so he throws caution to the wind and pulls him into a tight hug, which he can tell catches him off guard, but Blaine starts to relax in his arms almost immediately. “Blaine. You can’t help it if your family is crazy, okay? Just like you didn’t judge me for my crazy earlier, I’m not going to judge you for Cooper’s.” He gives him one last squeeze around his shoulders before letting him go, straightening out his suit where he wrinkled it (not just because he wanted to touch Blaine a bit more, not at all).

Dinner with Cooper is really just listening to Cooper talk about himself for two hours. Luckily, Quinn has the patience of a saint and redirects him more than once when necessary (and Kurt begins to wonder how much of her job in LA was just handling Cooper, because she really has a knack for this), but Kurt really can’t complain. He and Blaine are seated next to each other, in the corner with their backs up against the wall, so their chairs are sort of pushed up against each other, closer than he is to Rachel on his other side. Their thighs keep brushing and whenever Cooper goes off on a particularly long rant, he can feel Blaine tense, and he reaches over to put a hand comfortingly on Blaine’s knee.

The first time he does it, he can see a grin start to form at the corners of Blaine’s mouth, and he places his own hand over Kurt’s. Kurt doesn’t listen to half of what Cooper has to say that night, but it’s still the best dinner he’s been to in a very long time. It has nothing to do with the quality of the food - which is exquisite, of course - and everything to do with who’s sitting right beside him.

***

Cooper’s in town for five days, so Kurt doesn’t see Blaine at all in the week following their night out. Blaine still sends him text messages about how he’s ready to ship his brother back to California and he’s coming back in a month for another weekend and how can Blaine conveniently be out of town during those dates?

That Friday Kurt’s stuck late at Vogue, though not late enough to really justify waiting for Blaine - Blaine gets off work at seven-fifteen usually, and it’s only just after six. Still, it takes him thirty minutes to get from where he is to where Blaine is and he sends Blaine a text telling him he’s in the Starbucks across the street from the church waiting for him. He tries not to think of how his glamourous New York life turned out to be waiting for boys in coffee shops. Not that this is dating, by any means, but none of his dating experiences in New York have been like this. He’s known Blaine just over two months - none of them even lasted that long. He never got to date in high school, but this sure feels like what it would have felt like. Only without the messy drama that went along with it.

Maybe that’s what he was looking for all along.

His thoughts are interrupted when he hears the jingle of the door and sees Blaine walking in. “You didn’t have to wait for me. I saw what time that text came through.”

Kurt shrugs, taking a sip of his mocha. “It’s been a long day. It’s been a long week. I could use some company for the ride back.” Sure, it’s partially a fib, he knows Blaine probably needs company more than him, but no need to make him feel bad about it.

Kurt waits in line with him while Blaine gets his coffee and he glances over at him oddly, to which Kurt finally asks, “What?” with a short laugh.

“I just - I like your bow tie.” It’s one of his older ones, chocolate plaid, but still, one of his favorites. “I always wanted to get a few, but, well, that wouldn’t have been okay.”

“Blaine!” Kurt squeals, stepping off to the side to let him order his latte and then pulling him along once he’s paid. “Blaine,” he repeats, this time a little more quietly. “If you want to wear bow ties … you should buy bow ties. I personally think you’d look adorable in them. We should go right now, in fact. Do you have extra money you can spare this week?”

Blaine’s looking at him like he’s insane, but Blaine already went shopping without him once this month, when it started to get cooler because his wardrobe was willfully unprepared. It was only to H&M and he just bought multiples of the same cardigan and v-neck sweater in different colors, but still. It was the first time Blaine went shopping in New York and he went without Kurt. “I - well, I guess, Cooper did leave me a credit card for emergencies and he told me I should splurge on something every once in a while but I really didn’t think I would -”

Blaine. You had to put up with him for five days. It’s worth a few bow ties.” They stared at each other until the barista called out Blaine’s name, at which point, Blaine sighed, signaling to Kurt that he’d caved, and the instant they were out the Starbucks door, they were on their way to Barneys.

The men’s accessory department is pretty deserted for a Friday night and Blaine looks overwhelmed at the sheer amount of tie choices in front of them when they arrive. “Come here,” Kurt says softly, reaching for Blaine’s hand and dragging him to the bow tie section, where he’s spent numerous hours before. “Just - pick out one that speaks to you and I’ll help you put it on.”

Blaine runs his fingers over the silks, solids and plaids and patterns, his fingertips finally lingering over a classic plaid one comprised of greens and purples. It actually won’t look half bad with his white shirt and navy sweater that he’s wearing today. “This one?” Kurt asks as their eyes meet across the kiosk. He pulls it from the neat row and leads him to a mirror.

Kurt loosens Blaine’s collar and luckily has tied enough bow ties he can tie one in his sleep, because he’s pretty sure he doesn’t exhale the whole entire time he’s standing behind Blaine. His fingers move deftly with the bow tie around his neck, trying not to tie it too tight, and when he’s done, he leans over Blaine’s shoulder to straighten the ends and can hear Blaine suck in a sharp breath.

“There,” Kurt says, backing away so Blaine can look in the mirror without being distracted by him. “I think you made a pretty good choice there.”

“Yeah?” Blaine asks, leaning closer to the mirror to inspect it, pulling the ends of the bow tie himself, and then turning to face Kurt with possibly the biggest smile Kurt’s ever seen on his face. Kurt’s heart almost breaks on the spot because he helped make that happen. “I think so too.”

“Well, you can’t just get one, pick out a few more!”

In the end, Blaine leaves with the plaid bow tie, a black and white checkerboard one, a solid navy one with pink stripes, and a red one with navy and white stripes. When they step out onto the street, Blaine’s shopping bag on his arm, he says to Kurt, “I’ve never … done something like that. Something just for myself. I mean, I came to New York, but that was something life-changing. That was something …”

“Frivolous?” Kurt offers, linking their free arms together as they walk towards the subway. “Sometimes that’s just as important as the life-changing things. I better stick around to make sure you do things like this more often. It’s good for your soul, trust me.”

Blaine laughs as they turn the corner onto East 60th and says, “I’m pretty sure you’re good for my soul, Kurt.”

Kurt doesn’t know how to respond to that, feeling his cheeks start to flush but hoping Blaine can’t tell in the cool night air. He offers Blaine a fond smile instead of words, and they head to the subway in silence, letting the city say all of the things they want to, but can’t.