Then There's Compromise

And simply, it's all very different these days.

Summer is sticky and hot and uncomfortable. It's never been Kurt's favorite season because it means clothes come off rather than get layered on. Kurt's good at layers; good at finding the right shirt to go with the right sweater to go with the right jacket and scarf. He loves his boots, loves hiding behind patterns and colors and long sleeves. It's easier that way, and honestly, unlike his peers who like seeing their friends and other people with more skin showing, it's always been uncomfortable for Kurt. While he can appreciate short dresses and low necklines for their aesthetic quality (especially if he'd been the one to press an unwilling Rachel to purchase said dress), it never really did anything for him. Seeing guys in shorts and tanktops or short sleeves only served, in the past, to remind Kurt that he wasn't allowed to look, allowed to really appreciate the male physique, simply because if he was caught he might catch a slushie to the face, a shove into the lockers, or worse, a punch in the face.

No, no, summer wasn't good for much, in the past.

Now, though, there's Blaine, who's style is preppy tinged with hipster chic, who wears denim cut-off mid-calf jeans ("They're capris, Blaine," Kurt tries to insist when he first sees them. Blaine just makes silly noise with his mouth and presses a kiss to Kurt's lips) and v-neck tee-shirts and really nice expensive silver colored Wayfarer Ray-Bans. He alternates his footwear with flip flops and boat shoes and he stops gelling down his hair completely, saying it's too warm and the gel tends to melt off if he's sweating and it's not fun to get it in your eyes, you have no idea Kurt, seriously.

The thing is, Kurt's never been able to look before, but now he can. He can sit in the park in the shade with Rachel, Quinn, Tina and Mercedes as Sam, Finn, Puck, Lauren, Blaine and Mike play a half-assed game of touch football (half assed because Finn's been whining for the past fifteen minutes that it's just too hot, god and Lauren's been calling him a prissy bitch, Hudson and it's turning the kind of sour that only a too-long afternoon in the sun will make people cranky), and he can unabashedly check out his boyfriend's ass as he crouches a little to block Mike. It's pretty invigorating, honestly, even if he's too warm in his own long sleeved (very light knit) shirt and skinny jeans.

"Kurt I have no idea how you're not dying right now," Tina groans, sloppily braiding her hair to get it out of her face. Mercedes has been fanning herself with a paper plate from their earlier picnic for the past fifteen minutes. Only Kurt is toughing it out, pretending as if he couldn't feel the sweat gathering at his brow or behind his knees. He's playing the role quite well, he knows, because the girls seem to be buying that he's cool as a cucumber.

"Good circulation," He quips, even though that has nothing to do with anything. He just hopes that the girls are sufficiently distracted by the combination of the increasing afternoon heat and the sight of Sam finally breaking down and taking his shirt off to realize he is epically and utterly full of shit. He pops a grape in his mouth in time to watch as the rest of the boys follow Sam's example and suddenly Kurt's face to face with lots of boy torsos - boy torsos that he can look at without really worrying about getting punched in the face for it. His eyes immediately wander over to Blaine and stay there, suddenly grateful for the little things in life.

"Boys, you are all so white you're literally reflecting the sun back at us. Is this supposed to turn us on?" Santana says, approaching the group. She's wearing the shortest shorts Kurt has ever seen and a simple bikini top and ridiculous wedges, a full-on outfit that makes zero sense even for this sort of weather, but it's so Santana not a single person is even giving her a second glance. The boys are out of earshot, though, so they don't even bother to quip back, which is fine with Kurt - he watches as Blaine jumps a bit to catch the ball as it flies over his head and the tendons in his back ripple quite nicely,thank you.

"Where's Brittany?" Tina says, looking up at Santana, hand shielding her face from the sun. Santana just crosses her arms over her chest and rolls her eyes.

"Over at Artie's or something," She dismisses the question. Rachel's about to nosey herself further into the conversation when suddenly a football-shaped shadow looms over them. Kurt dives for the ball currently in trajectory for Rachel's head and knocks it away just in time, the fake plastic skin of the football skimming his fingertips and causing it to bounce off her shoulder instead. She startles and her hand flies to her bare shoulder, now red from the impact of the ball.

"Alright cumquats," Santana yells to the boys and Lauren, this time loud enough for them to hear, "I think the game's over now."

Their faces are sheepish, but it's Finn that looks guilty. Kurt can't help but laugh out loud from where he's sprawled over the traditional picnic stereotyped checked blanket, leaning awkwardly on his side from when he'd stopped the ball from cracking Rachel in her pretty little head. He feels a kiss at his temple and looks up at her upside down, smiling further when he sees her pained expression has slipped off her face and now she's just laughing.

"Oh man I'm so sorry Rachel," Finn says, ambling up to them, the rest of the boys and Lauren in tow. Puck's already grumbling under his breath, but the rest of the group seem almost relieved for the excuse to stop playing. Kurt looks up as Blaine's shadow descends on him. For once, he lets himself unabashedly gaze over Blaine's oddly long torso (he's way more torso than legs. It should make him look weirdly proportioned but it works), taking in the chest hair and the lean muscle and then down to the cut of his hips where his pants are riding low. This isn't the first time he's seen Blaine shirtless, as they'd recently graduated to discovering the joys of the shirtless makeout, but it's the first time he's got a good look at him in natural sunlight.

"Hello," Blaine smirks down at him, hair in disarray as it curls disobediently around his ears. Kurt's learning the art of being coy, even though sometimes it feels weird on his skin to be able to flirt so openly, but Blaine's looking so devious at him that he just can't help it. Kurt follows Blaine's figure with his eyes as the other boy sinks down beside him on the blanket, reaching out with a gloriously bare arm to pull Kurt up next to him.

"You're going to get sunburned," Kurt tsked, obviously teasing. It's much too hot to lean into Blaine, but he does crowd his personal space just a bit, reaching out and passing Blaine his sunglasses from inside his bag. Blaine winks at him as he slips them on.

"Eh whatever, too late now. I'll stick to the shade for the rest of this afternoon and hopefully it won't be too bad," He shrugs. Kurt looks over Blaine's torso and back again, this time actually observing for any signs of sunburn. He reaches out and touches Blaine's back to see if it's overly warm but it's hard to tell; it's just that hot outside. Hopefully later, under the reality of being indoors, there isn't a huge bright red sunburned mess of Blaine whining in his bedroom.

"What about you? You are absolutely overheated in that outfit, babe. You can keep your pokerface up for the girls but I can see right through you," Blaine shoulder bumped him, his voice low so their chatting friends around them don't listen in. Kurt blushes, knows he's caught, but plays it off anyway.

"Fashion knows no weaknesses," Kurt teases, leaning away from Blaine a little as Finn approaches them, looking like an inevitable giant. Kurt is grateful for the shadow Finn creates.

"Yeah yeah," Blaine rolls his eyes, "I hope you're drinking enough water, then. You'll get dehydrated."

Kurt sighs, and it's then that Puck makes his presence known.

"Alright, Daddy Anderson," He says, teasing. "Kurt drink your water!"

Finn laughs, and they're all drawn into the conversation, suddenly as the group comes alive around them to alternately defend and tease Blaine.

It's June 8th, it's something like 94 degrees out, Kurt Hummel is sweating through his Marc Jacobs' v-neck and his very attractive boyfriend is half naked and laughing along with his friends. Kurt's stopped counting how many things are going good for him these days, but he's never stopped being thankful.

Summer to Kurt Hummel has always meant air conditioned bedrooms and movie theaters and the inside of malls. He hates heat; hates stickiness, and he's completely unwilling to start liking any of the above.

Summer to Blaine Anderson has always meant sprinklers and riding bikes and block parties and parks and pools. He'd always been the kind of kid to run barefoot in the grass, scrape his knees on the sidewalks, dance unabashedly and unembarassingly at the annual block parties.

Blaine was used to summer vacations to Florida, or once every few years, to California to visit his cousins. He used the sunlight to shed his insecurities and the lack of school to stop being afraid of those who liked to push him down. During the summer he had built in friends in cousins and his older brothers, always had someone to play in the backyard with or splash in the pool. What he didn't know then that he knows now is that across town, Kurt Hummel would spend his days fingerpainting indoors or walking with his mother and aunt in the Lima mall.

They were two very different sorts of boys then, and they are just as different now. It's something they both acknowledge and like about one another. They have overlaps in interests - in music and singing and Vogue covers and movies, but it's the differences that make it really intriguing, make everything they learn about one another interesting and dynamic.

"No you didn't," Kurt's eyes are wide, disbelieving, and Blaine doesn't know what he finds more charming - the look on Kurt's face or the fact that he's even surprised in the first place.

"Of course I did," Blaine sits up from where he'd been laying on Kurt's bed drowsily. They'd come in after their park adventure to get away from the heat but the air conditioning was starting to be too cold. Kurt, still in stupid layers, looks comfortable. Blaine's sun-warm skin is protesting though, so he crawls across the bed to where Kurt's lounging against the headboard, crawling over his legs to crowd into his personal space.

"You sang 'La Vie Boheme' at your block party and walked across the tables they set up for the communal dinner?" Kurt continued, seemingly unfazed by how Blaine was trying to turn on the smolder. He looked from Kurt's eyes to his lips again, this time licking his own lips.

"I did," Blaine continued, giving up and simply diving in to kiss Kurt's neck. He feels Kurt's hand flutter to the back of his head but he's apparently not sufficiently distracted because he keeps talking.

"I wonder about you sometimes," Kurt goes on, and this time Blaine makes them open-mouthed kisses against Kurt's neck. It finally seems to be working, because Kurt's hand slides into his curls and there's a breathy moan. Blaine pulls back slightly to capture Kurt's lips.

"Wait," Kurt says, in between light teasing kisses. Blaine just groans against his lips.

"Wait, will you sing 'Light My Candle' with me, then?" Kurt mumbles, eyes finally fluttering closed. Blaine huffs a laugh against Kurt's cheek.

"I'll sing anything with you if you stop talking so we can make out in your empty house properly for awhile."

This time, it's Kurt's laughing that breaks the mood, but Blaine is too busy laughing at Kurt that he doesn't even care.

Someday, Kurt Hummel is planning on getting married. It'll be legal, because in his head the world will be progressive enough that he won't have to have his own marriage not acknowledged by the state he lives in, and it'll be on a fall day in New York, or maybe Los Angeles, and more and more this mystery groom is starting to look eerily like Blaine Anderson. It scared him at first, because as much of a self proclaimed romantic he is, he also considers himself pretty realistic, and to put your high school boyfriend as a future groom when you've only been dating four months is a little insane, of course. However, there's liberties Kurt gives himself sometimes and this is going to be one of them, especially since it's only for him, really. He feels like he deserves it.

"I imagine what our wedding's going to be like, sometimes," Blaine says suddenly, and Kurt's suddenly dragged back into reality. They're curled around one another on a lounge chair in Santana's backyard. He's a little drunk, Kurt can tell, because he's just as drunk. They'd both decided they deserved a couple of drinks, and the cheap rose wine he'd requested for the evening was perfect. Blaine, too, was drinking the rose, opting for that instead of the heavier liquor the others were partaking in. Santana had cracked open the tequila shots an hour ago and Mike and Tina were getting sloppy. Kurt's rather proud of he and Blaine's slower descent into being tipsy, and they'd collapsed together on the chair nearly an hour ago and were content to ride out their buzz there.

At Blaine's words, though, Kurt looks up into Blaine's glassy eyes - his boyfriend must be more drunk than he'd though. Right?

"What?" He says reflexively, even as Blaine flinches in embarrassment a little.

"Oops, sorry. I told myself I wouldn't tell you that," Blaine giggles a little, and then hiccups. Kurt can't help but giggle himself a little too, in response.

"Tell me," He insists, finally, using a finger to tilt Blaine's chin back up. Blaine's blushing; Kurt can even see it by the flickering torches providing the light in the backyard. He looks like he might protest for a moment, but then something in his expression caves and he presses his lips to Kurt's in a soft, wine flavored kiss before pulling back to look at him in the eye.

"June in the Hamptons, or Santa Monica. Somewhere by the beach." He says unabashedly. Kurt's heart feels heavy and full then, something tightening in his chest. At Blaine's words there's the realization that he hadn't drunkenly misheard him initially, that he wasn't alone in his dreams of maybe this boy being his husband someday. He thinks he should feel silly, but he can't, not when Blaine's looking at him like that, not when he's not alone in being a ridiculous seventeen year old who's in so in ridiculous teenage love with their significant other. He does have to laugh a bit, though, and at it Blaine's eyes widen and he pouts a little.

"I was thinking fall in New York," Kurt placates, and before he can say anything else, Blaine is kissing him. It's a little sloppy and off-centered but it feels so so good and Kurt eagerly kisses back before Blaine pulls away and presses his forehead against his own.

"Looks like we might have to compromise?" Blaine whispers.

"We'll see," Kurt teases back, curling into the arm Blaine tightens around his waist.

Ice cream, though, that's something they agree on, especially if it's from the homemade ice cream shop three blocks from Blaine's house, run by old Mrs. Wilson who thinks they're both so darling she always gives them an extra scoop each. (Blaine says that they both should be pretty honored by her praises, as she sees every kid in the neighborhood at least twice every summer and it's only them and Kaley Travers - a five year old precocious little thing that's face is all wide blue eyes and bright red ringlets- that gets the star treatment. He pretends to be indifferent towards the favoritism but they both stay after closing when they're there, chatting with her and helping her close up shop. Neither of them would admit it, but they are touched by her affection towards them, even though she knows they're a couple, and if seventy five year old Mrs. Wilson doesn't see a problem with their love then why can't everyone?)

It becomes a weekly thing, these trips. It means sitting outside on the uncomfortable metal furniture, sharing one another's ice cream, pressing their legs together under the table. It means wiping down counters for Mrs. Wilson and singing in harmony for her as they close down the shop. It means slipping into his house five minutes late for his curfew, Blaine's chocolate mint chip flavored lips still on his mind.

"Are you seriously wearing that?" Blaine asks, eyebrow raised in disbelief as Kurt throws a cardigan on over his short-sleeved button down collared shirt. Kurt looks in the mirror at Blaine's reflection where he can see him as he fixes his hair.

"What's wrong with this?" He thinks he looks divine, actually - dark red nearly shiny pants, dark grey cardigan and the button down.

"Kurt it's literally 100 degrees outside. We're in Ohio. We're landlocked. We're going to be outside all day, just looking at you is making me sweat."

Blaine's wearing his man-capris and deep purple v-neck tee and stupid shoes Kurt doesn't like, but wouldn't ever tell Blaine that. He looks delicious, despite his poor choice of footwear, and so does Kurt. He simply raises his eyebrow up in response; Blaine already knows what that expression means.

"We're going to a barbecue," Blaine insists, coming up behind Kurt and wrapping his arms around his waist. He has to lean up a bit on his toes to properly hook his chin over Kurt's shoulder but it serves it's purpose, causing Kurt to lean back into the embrace, "How about losing the sweater? The bowtie? Unbuttoning the first couple of buttons there?"

He smoothly slides the cardigan off of Kurt's shoulders and deftly unties the tie. Kurt lets him, even though his hands are already going to cover his bare arms.

"What about a pair of shorts instead of these?" Kurt feels Blaine's hand run up the outside of his thigh and he sighs a bit. It's nice to have Blaine touch him; it's the one thing he's sure he'll never get sick of Blaine touching him like this, like he knows him. It's still a novelty, even after all these months. Kurt loves the intimacy of having a partner. He never thought he'd be that sort of person; the clingy sort, the kind that needed some portion of his body to be touching his/her significant other at all times - but he is. No matter where they are, Kurt likes to have some sort of contact with Blaine, even if it's just their feet pressing together under the table.

Right now, Blaine's attempting to sweet talk Kurt into wearing less clothes and even though ultimately he'll compromise (he'll keep the pants but lose the cardigan and bowtie) he'll continue to let Blaine divest him of his clothing, because it feels good to be in Blaine's arms, because it's all about that compromise. It's give and take with them, always - because they are two very different boys.

They'll ultimately be late to the barbecue and actually Kurt will end up trading the pants for the shorts because he'd given Blaine a pretty massive hickey in exchange. Blaine will have to help Kurt put sunscreen on, even just for the hour of dying sunlight they have before it descends into evening. In the end, he'll even have to go back to the car for him to get the removed cardigan because it did end up getting cooler.

Blaine will get a thank you kiss, though.

Last summer, Kurt Hummel saw fifteen movies in the theater, went to at least five different malls within thirty miles, and spent most of his time in his room reading.

This summer, Kurt's (kind of) got a tan. He's even gone in the pool. He's made out with his boyfriend on the grass in his backyard and went running around his neighborhood (instead of at a treadmill) and even played a little bit of football with the boys at the park.

Last summer, Blaine Anderson went hiking with his father, and then went hiking alone. He'd sit by himself at the park and read, would busk by the Lima Bean on Sunday afternoons.

This summer, Blaine's seen some movies, read some books. Made out with Kurt, shirtless and then pantless, on Kurt's bed. He'll go shopping with Kurt and have nearly a whole new wardrobe for fall by August.

In the end, neither then or now is a particularly better way to live. Kurt still would prefer to see a movie than roll around in the grass and Blaine would rather hike in the woods than shop in the mall, but now it's learning to compromise, to settle into one another's habits and quirks and learn if they're really each other's ideal fit.

Nothing's perfect, of course. There are days when Kurt wants nothing more than to sip fresh lemonade in the shade and Blaine wants to go running through sprinklers, and there are days when they bicker and bitch at one another until the other snaps.

These days everything's different; perhaps more difficult, but altogether worth it.

Someday, Kurt Hummel might marry Blaine Anderson. It'll probably be in the Spring in Central Park, but they'll get there, eventually.