(or Looks Can Be Deceiving)
AU: The guys are mid-twenties and no one at the theater knows each other from school.
Rated: NC-17 for language and lemons. I'll warn in advance of smut for those who don't want to read it. I don't know any of those people, but I respect their wishes. :)
Warnings: Language, Explicit Sex, Mentions of Shakespeare =0
Disclaimer: I own nada. Yada yada yada.
Chapter 1: The Big House
"Hey, Baby," Blaine said, low and intimate. "Tomorrow night? Sure. Why don't you come over to my place around 9:30, and bring the wine... Red, of course." A pause and a soft chuckle. "I know you will. See you then." Blaine hung up and slipped the phone into the inner breast pocket of his navy blue suit.
"Are you sure he's old enough to purchase alcohol?" came a snarky voice from behind him. Blaine turned and leaned his shoulder against the wall, ankles crossed. His hands slid into the pockets of the perfectly tailored slacks that offset his ice blue shirt, open at the throat for a look that was professional, casual and sexy all at once. His eyes roamed slowly and thoroughly over Kurt until he was gritting his teeth in annoyance.
"If not, I'm sure he'll find a way around that problem. He's very resourceful." Blaine winked.
"Yes, I'm sure he is. I'm sure they all are. Do you even remember this one's name?" Kurt dug through the bolts of fabric stacked on the table, with no idea what he'd been looking for.
"Hmmm." Blaine tilted his head, waiting patiently until Kurt's bristling glare came back to him almost against his will. He let an index finger glide across his lips while his eyes looked skyward for the answer. "Alan, I think. Or Erin," he shrugged.
Kurt's fists clenched around a cream and tan striped cotton blend and he closed his eyes, making sure they were directed at the table when he opened them again. "Not that it matters. They all answer to Baby, right?"
The sneering comment drew a chuckle from Blaine. It was almost too easy to get under Kurt's skin sometimes. "Baby. Sweet cheeks," he said slowly. "Whatever strikes me at the time. There isn't usually a lot of conversation going on." He watched the irritated man twist a swath of fabric like he was wringing a wet cloth.
Kurt was practically snarling and still refused to look up. "Well, would you mind scheduling your sordid appointments somewhere else? I'm trying to work here."
Blaine's comfortable stance didn't change. "What are you planning to make with that?" He kept his expression serene as Kurt's hands stilled, then started smoothing the abused cloth.
"I was thinking maybe a noose." Kurt leveled a bitch stare at the theater company's star performer that should have struck him dead where he stood.
Blaine smiled, always pleased when he could get a rise out of the consummate professional. He'd joined the troupe a year ago and it hadn't taken him long to realize what a witty mind and sharp tongue lay hidden beneath the uptight façade of Kurt Hummel. But, as much as he enjoyed their banter, he should get back to rehearsal. The five minute break had probably ended five minutes ago. He slipped his jacket off and slung it over a shoulder, winking again before sauntering away.
Kurt watched him go, fingers trying to stretch the unfortunate bit of cloth entirely out of shape until he realized what he was doing and threw it down. That man infuriated him. Blaine Freaking Anderson, with his confident, sexy swagger and ridiculously stunning smile, charm oozing out of his pores like swamp slime.
He went to splash cold water on his warm face and looked unenthusiastically at his reflection. Gray blazer, black slacks and plain white shirt. The black and red striped necktie was his only splash of color. His hair was flattened into submission, bangs combed down and over to the side. He felt ludicrous in this get-up; one of many bland, staid, unoriginal, yet totally socially acceptable outfits he'd created for work.
The bellowing of his nickname brought a small smile back to his face. Sue was one of the most interesting people he'd met in New York. Abrasive and often offensive, she was also fair and honest – with him.
"Good morning, Sue," Kurt greeted as he returned to the costumers' workroom, a large, open area backstage.
"There you are," she said as if she'd been looking. Kurt knew she'd only gotten as far as his desk, if that, before shouting.
"How's it coming with–" she waved negligently in the direction of the stage.
"Twelfth Night? Everything's on track. Elizabethan era costumes are elaborate, but don't require much original design thanks to the Sumptuary Laws." He shuddered at the horror of a law that would restrict the clothing options of an entire populace merely to enforce social hierarchies. As if it wasn't enough to be poor. One must look poor as well. "On the up-side, several pieces from Merchant of Venice can be reused with simple alterations and–"
"Okay, okay," Sue interrupted. "I don't actually care. What about your part, Marco Polo is it?"
"Malvolio," he chuckled. "It's a great role." He glanced away.
"Don't you have to wear pantyhose?"
"Yellow stockings," he corrected. "I can pull it off, trust me."
"So, you're okay with the part?" she asked, looking him straight in the eye.
Kurt could swear she saw right through him sometimes. "It might not be what I was hoping for, but - there's always next time," he said with a now brittle smile.
"And if you get the lead next time are you going to stop coming to work like that?" Sue looked disdainfully at his clothing.
His smile wavered. "There's nothing wrong with looking professional."
"Porcelain." She lowered her voice and pointed her glasses at him, signaling her intent to impart some great wisdom. "Dressing like an insurance salesman doesn't make you straight. It just makes you awful. Let me know if you need anything," she called over her shoulder as she walked away.
Sue could be too honest at times.
Despite pursuing dual degrees in Fashion Design and Drama, it seemed the real world, the everyday world he had to live and work in, wasn't quite ready for Kurt's exceptional sense of style. Casting directors would take one look and not bother hearing his audition for the dramatic lead roles he wanted. Those that did let him audition would cross his name off when he spoke. The roles he'd landed were invariably the comic relief. Or in his case, the scene-stealing comic relief. The flaming neighbor, the smart-mouthed store clerk, the weird cousin who bursts into song at inappropriate moments. Then he'd met Sue.
She'd read his resume, watched from the wings as he auditioned, and offered him the job of Wardrobe Assistant when he didn't get the part. She didn't involve herself in casting. 'That's what I hire directors for,' she'd said. But she owned and managed Big House Theater and she'd taken a liking to Kurt for some reason.
Naturally he'd taken the job – he was a cash-poor undergrad and it beat the hell out of waiting tables – though he'd reserved the right to continue auditioning at her theater. That was a few years ago. Now he was the theater's Costume Designer with a small team of his own part-time assistants, which was a necessity because Kurt was frequently a member of the cast.
Kurt looked up from the black lace veil he was working on and waited patiently until Sue rounded the corner before replying. "Good morning, Sue."
"Good morning? Is that all you have to say?"
"How are you today?" Kurt added with raised brows. It was no use trying to guess what she was getting at. No one could read Sue's thoughts. He wasn't even sure anyone would want to know exactly what went on in that head of hers.
"Have you noticed the chaos onstage?" Arms crossing over her chest, she gave Kurt a hard look, like she expected him to get right up and fix it. Sue seemed to expect him to fix everything.
"I was told Anderson injured himself and his understudy is filling in. What's the problem?" Kurt's hands were busy again with the delicate lace.
"The problem is the show opens in four weeks and our star is home in bed instead of rehearsing!"
"Viola is the star of this play." A feeling of dread was creeping up on him. "Anyway, what can I do about it?"
"I'll tell you what you can do. Get your sweet ass over there, shove some Percocet or vodka or whatever else he needs down his throat and run lines with him."
Kurt groaned, his dread fully justified. "Sue, I have a lot of work to do on these costumes. Not to mention my own lines to worry about." He pinched his leg. It was only a little white lie to imply he didn't already know his part backwards and forwards. It was almost embarrassing sometimes how driven he could be.
As usual, Sue saw right through him. That's why she knew she could count on him to fix anything. "Give your team some extra hours and I'll assign someone to run back and forth with whatever you need as long as you're working there. You can help him rehearse while you're sewing the pieces you don't trust in the hands of anyone else."
Yep. She knew him too well.
Blaine groaned down at the cell phone chiming insistently on the bed next to him. "What the hell do you want, Hummel? I'm in enough pain already."
"Grouchy today, aren't we, Anderson? Cheer up. I'm coming over to cure you with vast quantities of good food and TLC."
Blaine pulled the phone away long enough to look at the screen and make sure he was in fact speaking to Kurt Hummel. "I'm not sick. I have a sprained ankle."
"Good food for the soul. Vicodin for the ankle, I imagine."
"I wish. Try Ibuprofen," Blaine grumbled.
"Ouch. Your doctor doesn't like you? Well, that's hardly surprising. In any case, I'm coming over. Do you need anything?"
"Well... actually, I could use an ice pack. And maybe some Ace bandages? If you're sure you don't mind."
"I live to serve." Kurt had long ago perfected dry sarcasm. "I'll call when I'm almost there so you have time to drag your lame ass to the door."
The line went dead and Blaine fell back onto the pillow. He'd hardly slept at all and his ankle was throbbing like a sonofabitch. His lips turned up in a crooked smile.
A/N: Obligatory setup outta the way. Next chapters will be more Klaine-centric.
Things I know nothing about, except what I Googled: Managing a theater or stage production; Elizabethan era costumes; Sprained ankles; Erm, and other stuff too numerous to mention.
If you happen to be an expert on said stuff, and I write something utterly ridiculous on the subject, feel free to correct me so I can rail at Google, hang my head in shame, and fix it. Thanks!