Part 1 of 2.

Back to writing after a traveling hiatus—airplanes are not my friends. Thank you to all the very nice people who left lovely reviews on my last couple of stories: you're all ace.

I don't own anything Glee related. I also don't own Bravo or TGI Fridays, though the former would be nice.


Tina knew that something was terribly, horribly wrong the moment she stepped into Kurt's house and, instead of breathing in the usual blend of cleaning products and eucalyptus, was able to detect a faint odor of cheese sauce. Mr. Hummel's truck was missing from the driveway, so there was no way Burt had somehow snuck the offending food past his son's sharp senses. And, she remembered, they had agreed on rehearsing at 6:30 because Kurt's dad would be out, and they could play their music as loud as they wanted. But Kurt? Cheese sauce? Tina glanced back out the door behind her. It was a little windier than normal, but no visible signs of the pending apocalypse, which was good at least.

She took a minute to unlace her combat boots (she forgot to take them off the first time she was here, and Kurt's screech when she nearly scuffed the pine floorboards had made the glasses on the kitchen counter vibrate dangerously) before creeping softly into the kitchen. "Kurt? Is everything…oh my God."

It was worse than she had imagined. Kurt was facing the stove wearing a black apron with pinstripes, trimmed with an honest-to-God ruffle at the bottom. Which wouldn't have been too totally weird, except for the cuisine that surrounded Kurt—and there was a lot of it—was a horrifying assortment of fatty, greasy, bar food that Tina knew for a fact that Kurt wouldn't willingly consume if there was a gun held to his well-coiffed head: nachos with cheese sauce and chopped jalapeños, pizza piled high with pepperoni and sausage, macaroni and cheese with some sort of breadcrumb crust, and…no, it couldn't possibly be…

"Is it 6:30 already? Give me just a moment to finish up. Can you pass me the buffalo sauce? I don't know what I'm doing wrong, but for some reason I just can't get the wings to coat properly—the consistency is just off." Kurt was making buffalo wings. W. T. F.

Tina's mother couldn't by any stretch of the imagination be called a homemaker of any sort, so Tina had very little practical experience to go off of. But she was pretty well versed in movies, and Kurt was currently giving off such a creepy, Stepford Wife vibe that she was genuinely afraid for his sanity.

And possibly that the real Kurt was in a shallow ditch somewhere and that this was some creepy robot replacement. What, technology is boss, it could totally happen.

"Kurt," she said slowly, using the same tone she might use on a hungry, rabid dog. "What are you doing? What's with all the food?" Kurt clicked his tongue at her, uncapping the sauce and pouring a liberal amount over the wings. "Clearly, Tina, I'm cooking. But you already knew that, unless—as I warned you copious times to apparently no avail—that chemical-laden dye you insist on trashing your hair with has finally permeated your skull and permanently damaged your brain." He gripped both sides of the pan, his knuckles turning white under the pressure. "What is it that you really want to ask me, Tina, because I'm really not in the mood for Twenty Questions."

T bristled. Kurt could be brash and abrasive, but usually there was some warning before he lashed out. If she was confused and worried before, now she was just annoyed. "That tone is unnecessary," she informed him coldly. "Forgive me for being a little concerned, but in case you haven't noticed, your kitchen looks like a T.G.I. Fridays. And," she continued, snatching up the offending tub, "you're cooking with butter. Butter, Kurt! What the hell is going on? It's like some weird ass parallel universe in this room and it's freaking me out!"

Kurt sighed, dropping his face into his hands for a brief second before snapping back up and fixing his hair. "You're right," he said apologetically. "I'm sorry. The sheer amount of cholesterol in this room is making me extremely irritable. I'm going to have to use my emergency skincare routine for the next three days just to get the ambient grease out of my pores; I don't know what I was thinking."

He gave Tina a small smile. After a second, she returned it.

"You don't eat any of this," Tina pointing out the obvious, "Why are you making it at all?" Kurt motioned to his laptop, which was resting on the Formica table next to a plate of loaded potato skins. "Men eat this"—and here, Kurt managed to both gesture around the room and shudder simultaneously—"while watching sports. I googled it." He frowned at the computer, buffing his nails on his apron.

"Dad and his new pseudo-son have been watching basketball together for two weeks now. If there isn't a game on, they're glued to ESPN like Jesus is going to make an appearance. Oh, they're not here now," he added, seeing Tina gazing at the door to the living room. "They're at the Hudson's. There's a Project Runway marathon on tonight, and I told Dad that if he even thought about taking the remote from me this evening, I'd drop by his weekly poker game in vintage Oscar de la Renta. And not," he intoned, raising an eyebrow at Tina conspiratorially, "from the Men's collection either." He turned away from her as he began loading dishes into the sink.

Tina frowned, confused. "So you're cooking for them?" Kurt nodded. "But why?" she asked. "I totally understand that you're not crazy about Finn and your dad spending so much time together. I wouldn't like it either, if it were me. But isn't this, like, enabling them?" When Kurt turned back around, Tina saw that his eyes were glittering with unshed tears. "How else am I supposed to contribute?" he asked, his voice gentle as if trying to soothe himself. "I don't like sports; I don't know anything about them. I only joined the football team so that Dad could be proud of me for something that he could understand—I still don't know how the game works, nor do I really care. Sure, I could sit on the couch with them and cheer when they cheer, be part of it all. But it doesn't change the fact that Finn is actually a much better son for someone like my Dad than I am. And besides," he sniffed, "what a colossal waste of time. How would I have time to maintain my hair care procedures and keep up with my wardrobe adjustments? I'd fall so behind."

Kurt opened the drawer to the left of the sink and pulled out a roll of saran wrap. "Much as I hate contributing to their eventual coronary heart disease and eventual demise by serving this fat-filled crap, I'm a good cook, which is something Finn is vehemently not. He burned instant pudding the other day, the sweet, clueless idiot." Kurt shook his head fondly. "Maybe I don't like it, but if this is what I have to do to keep a place in my own family, I'll do it, Tina."

Silently, Tina reached out and pulled her friend into a hug. Kurt leaned into her, laying his head on her shoulder and letting her stroke his back. "You smell like Tide," he muttered into the fabric of her shirt. She smacked him in the shoulder blade. "It's a good thing!" he clarified.

Finally, Kurt stood up and straightened his apron as Tina reached up to fix his hair, which had gotten slightly disheveled. "You know what?" she asked. "I'm not really in the mood to dance. Why don't you go disinfect, and I'll wrap up all the food and do the dishes? Then we can just hang out or watch TV or something. I hear there's a Project Runway marathon on, if you're interested." Kurt's smile was brilliant as he handed her the saran wrap. "Thanks, Mom. You're a goddess," he told her, and disappeared into the basement.

Tina began wrapping up the food and loading it into the refrigerator, finding spaces on the shelves next to Kurt's meticulously prepared organic dishes. Before starting in on the dishwashing, she pulled out her cell phone and shot a text to Mercedes: Cnt come w/u + K on Wed; but don't tell!! Azn-grl has a plan…

By the time Kurt came back up the stairs, freshly showered, the kitchen was immaculate and Tina was curled up on his couch, remote in hand.