A/N: I know most readers have given up on this story by now, and I don't blame them. But I really and truly will finish it. There are two chapters left, then an optional epilogue. I'm so sorry it's taken me so long to get this chapter up, but the more time went by, the more pressure I felt to make it perfect, and it's never going to be perfect... so I figure it makes more sense to just do my best and finish, rather than leave it partially done forever. Lots of love to those of you who have stuck around. It's been the most tumultuous few years of my life, and the uneven updates reflect that, but I do love this story and will see it through to the end. I'll also respond to every review left on this, because I want you to know how much I appreciate those who are still around. It has meant a lot to me to be part of this weird and wonderful fandom all these years.
I look up from my magazine to see Kurt and Anya bustling through the door, their noses red from the cold outside. "Hey, you're back!"
"We finished shopping an hour ago, but then we swung by the Magnolia Bakery to pick up dessert for tonight," he says, beaming. "Mini cheesecakes, can you believe it? Caramel pecan, red velvet, key lime, and vanilla."
"And he plans to eat all of them," Anya adds teasingly.
Kurt just shrugs with a coy smile. "I might ask for a taste of someone else's..."
They head toward the kitchen together, arms laden with bags of food and clothing purchases. From the moment we arrived in New York, Kurt clicked with Rob's girlfriend. Anya is a real estate agent with flexible hours, so she's spent every day this week taking him around the city.
"Blaine, I saw an ad today for an off-Broadway production of The Merchant of Venice," Kurt calls from the kitchen. "Any interest in going this weekend?"
"Ah, no, that's okay," I call back, and the two of them fall conspicuously silent. "Maybe another time," I add, and I guess it works, because they start chatting again.
Everything seemed to happen in fast-forward once our parents gave us tickets to New York. Before I could catch my breath, our plane was touching down in LaGuardia, with Rob and Anya waving to us from the baggage claim. Kurt took to the city quickly, delighting in exploring and learning all he could about New York.
He seems really happy here.
And I love seeing him happy.
They finish loading the food into the refrigerator and pantry, then come back into the living room. I'm curled up on the sofa with a copy of Entertainment. When Kurt plops down next to me, I lift one arm so that he can snuggle under it.
"You two are going to make me throw up," Anya says, but her fond smile betrays her. She blows a kiss at Kurt before heading out to set up an open house.
We're alone now. This is my favorite time of the day, when Rob is still at work and Kurt and I have the place to ourselves. I toss the magazine onto the coffee table and lean in to kiss Kurt thoroughly, cradling his head in my hands and working my tongue into his mouth.
After a few minutes, he pulls back. "Well," he says, a little breathless. "You have gotten really good at that."
"I've been practicing while you're out shopping," I reply, schooling my face into an innocent expression. "With the doorman."
"He's like a hundred years old!" he gasps, pretending to be offended.
"Love knows no age, Kurt." He half-heartedly tries to punch my shoulder, and we get into a little wrestling match before falling back into kissing again. I'll never get tired of this, feeling his lips and his body pliant against mine, my hand sliding lower and lower until I can cup his ass—
"Okay," he says, popping up into a seated position. My hand slips off his butt, and I swallow back an objection. Kurt runs a hand over his perfect hair, his cheeks even pinker than when he came in from the cold. "We need to talk apartments."
My heart sinks. "Right now?"
"Well, you insist on groping me in your cousin's living room where he could walk in at any second."
"He's working until eight tonight, he already told us," I grumble, but I sit up too.
"We toured a ton of places today before we went shopping. Anya's got the inside scoop on all the newly listed apartments because of her job. We have so many great options to choose from, especially with our price range."
"You're not planning to blow the whole settlement on an apartment, right, honey?" I reach out to take his hand, wishing for the hundredth time that my ring was on his finger.
"Obviously not, but considering Mr. Adams ended up giving us more money than he promised, it opens up a whole new bunch of possibilities." He shakes his head, his fingers tangling with mine absently. "I still can't believe that happened. He said he'd give you and me a million each, and then he gave us a million and a half. What do you think made him do that?"
I shrug with a bewildered expression, hoping he won't see through it. Truth is, I don't think Mr. Adams did add more to our settlement. One day I overheard my dad murmuring wiring instructions into the phone, and I'm pretty sure he was asking for my parents' share of the settlement to be split between me and Kurt instead. I haven't told Kurt about my suspicions, because he really needs the money — and my parents really don't.
"Anyway, we looked at an apartment in Chelsea with hardwood floors," he says. "I swooned a little."
"What about security? How's the neighborhood? Is it on an upper floor?"
"The neighborhood is great, really safe." He hesitates for a second. "There's a key to get in the front door, and another to get in the inner door—"
"You know I wanted a real person posted at the door. What floor is it on?"
"The, uh... ground floor."
"I know you said you didn't want to live on the ground floor, but it had so many of the features that I was looking for. But actually..." He cocks his head, a ghost of a smile pulling at the corner of his lips, and I feel my heart start to pound. "Now that you mention it, we did find a place that checked off all the boxes on your list and mine."
"Oh really?" I know instantly that I've been played. He wouldn't have opened with an apartment that had so many flaws if he weren't about to show me a better one. I give him my brightest smile. "Tell me about it."
"I took pictures!" He starts to bounce a little in his seat as he takes out his cell phone, tapping the screen and pulling up a photo album. "This one is a loft, and it has hardwood floors too. It's in the Village, in a building with security at the front door plus another person posted at the front desk. The loft's on the fifth floor." I open my mouth to ask, but he beats me to it. "Yes, there's an elevator. Two, in fact. And you can't use them without a key."
He hands me his phone, and I flip through the photos, trying to keep my hands from shaking. The apartment is beautiful. It's everything we said we wanted. It has an open floor plan with gorgeous windows and lots of space.
"The current owners remodeled the bathroom last year," he's telling me, and I force myself to look interested. "We'd be on the top floor, which means we'd have our own rooftop area, just for us. We could put some lounge chairs up there, or start a little urban garden, or throw terribly sophisticated New York parties..." His eyes go hazy with possibilities for a moment, before he blinks and points at the next photo. "That nook by the ceiling is for extra storage."
"Perfect for your out-of-season clothes," I supply weakly, and he grins as we flip to the next photo in the album.
"And look, there's a full kitchen with a gas stove and oven, and enough room for us to set up some air mattresses and have our friends sleep over when they visit us... It's perfect, Blaine. It has everything we wanted."
"What's the asking price?"
"It's..." He hums. "Just a little more than we said we wanted to pay."
"How much more?"
"Blaine, we have the money! We have so much money now."
"And we'll need a lot of it for college. And maybe to pay our bills while we work unpaid internships. And we'll want to set some aside for our own kids' college funds one day, right? The last thing we want to do is blow it all and wish we hadn't."
He takes the phone back, his thumb running over one of the photos wistfully, and guilt starts to gnaw at my stomach as he frowns. "You haven't come to look at any of these places with me," he says. "It's really hard doing this all on my own. Anya helps, but it feels like every time I find someplace I like, I come back here and you veto it."
"I would come if I could," I tell him weakly. "I'm still recovering, you know."
"I know. I'm sorry."
"The city's just a little much for me right now. I'm still dealing with the concussion."
"I know, sweetie, I really do. I shouldn't push." His frown deepens, and the guilt in my stomach starts to swirl, creeping up my spine with an anxious tickle.
"You know, I love these pants on you," I tell him, running my hand down his side to trace along his waistband.
Kurt preens a little. "Oh?"
"Mm-hmm." My fingertips dart underneath to stroke the soft skin of his stomach, and he draws in a shaky breath. "I love these pants off you even more."
He laughs and rolls his eyes, but there's a telltale flush spreading across his neck. He likes this. "Why is it that every time I try to talk to you about getting our own apartment, you want to have sex?"
"I want to have sex no matter what we're talking about." My fingers deftly pop open the button on his pants, and I reposition us so that he's leaning back against the couch as I move down his body, bending over to mouth hotly at his growing bulge. "I want to have sex while we're having sex."
"That doesn't make... ohhh..." His head falls back as I lower his briefs and take him deep into my mouth.
It took two nights in Rob's apartment before Kurt and I became intimate again. We were fully clothed the first time. Two hours later, our hands began to venture under clothes to rub at any warm skin we could find, and it wasn't long before we were naked together. Since then, we've been naked together at least twice a day. Or more often, if I have my way.
That's the thing nobody ever tells you about sex. Once you start doing this stuff, you're not going to want to stop.
Rob has two bedrooms, thankfully on opposite ends of the apartment so that we have a bit of privacy at night. When we arrived from Ohio, he told us we could stay with him as long as we wanted. I was thinking a couple of months. Kurt was thinking a couple of days.
It's been over a week, and I can tell Kurt is growing impatient. He wants his new life to begin.
"You're positive Rob's not coming home until eight?" Kurt murmurs, stroking my hair gently as I suck him. "We don't have to move to the bedroom?"
I hum low in response, and the vibrations make him moan and begin to thrust unevenly into my mouth.
A rattle of keys at the door makes my mouth pop off him as his eyes pop open wide.
"He said eight," I tell him hoarsely, scrambling into a seated position as Kurt hurries to pull up his pants.
His cheeks are flaming red as Rob enters the apartment holding his cell phone to his ear. We look disheveled and guilty, I'm sure, but Rob's in too much of a hurry to spare more than a glance at us. "I know," Rob says, "the file's in my study, give me one second. I know, Thomas, it has all the... I know." He disappears down the hall, and Kurt takes the opportunity to button his fly. I wipe my mouth with the back of my hand, and he blushes deeper. I can't tell if he's furious or turned on.
In a moment, Rob reappears, holding a thin stack of papers. "I have them here, Thomas, I'll be back in the office in twenty minutes." He holds the phone against his chest for a second, and whispers to us, "Don't you dare stain my couch," before leaving.
I reach for Kurt's fly again, but he bats my hand away.
"Learn to read a room, Blaine, the mood is gone." He grabs the remote, clicking on the television and scrolling down the schedule, checking to see what shows are on.
"We need to catch up on Project Runway," I remind him.
"We need our own place," he reminds me.
We eat dinner at 8:30. Everything's later in New York than back in Ohio. Back home, lunch is over by noon, and it's not unusual to sit down for dinner before six. Now that we're in New York, we sometimes don't have dinner until ten o'clock. Kurt took to the new schedule right away. I haven't adjusted yet, so I keep sneaking snacks in the early evening.
Rob brings home takeout from his favorite Chinese restaurant, and we open all the cartons in the middle of the table, digging our chopsticks into each container and sampling all the options. When I glance over at Kurt at one point, he has a bit of hoisin sauce on the corner of his lips.
"You've got something on your mouth," I whisper to him.
He picks up his napkin, dabbing his lips. "Did I get it?"
It's still there, so I lean forward to kiss it off for him. He hums his thanks and kisses me back a little dirtier.
I have to admit, it's nice, these little moments with Kurt and my family. I wouldn't feel free to kiss Kurt in front of my parents, but Rob doesn't care. If anything, it makes the wrinkles in his forehead smooth out a little when he sees how happy we are together. I remember that room of ours, back in Rob's apartment in Ohio, and I wonder how often he spent time with me and Kurt before the attack.
After dinner, we head into the living room for a game of Cranium. Everyone always wants Kurt on their team, because he's so good at both performing and drawing, but tonight Rob manages to call dibs. I'm stuck with Anya, who is good at wordplay but pretty dismal at everything else.
"A shovel?" I guess, as she rolls clay into a log shape and attaches it to a flat base. "A broom?"
She shakes her head, and makes the base more rounded at each end.
Kurt starts to giggle, and even Rob can't hide his smile.
"It's, um..." I shake my head. "Anya, it looks like a penis."
Her head shoots up. "What? It does not."
"It really does," Rob says. "And you've got about five seconds left."
She tries flattening the balls out a little, which just results in Rob making a pained wheezing noise and Kurt laughing harder.
"Time's up," Kurt finally crows as my head falls into my hands. We're losing badly. "What was it?"
"A gavel," she says. "That was a hard one."
"It sure looked like a hard one," Rob says, and she throws a pillow at him.
Kurt and Rob win easily. Anya brings out the little cheesecakes and we split them all four ways. Kurt snuggles up against me afterwards, murmuring in my ear that he loves me even more than he loves cheesecake, and I squeeze him tightly. It's been a perfect night.
"How about a walk around the city to burn off some of these calories?" Rob asks.
I feel Kurt start to pull away and sit up. So much for a perfect night.
"I'm in," Anya says. "Kurt and Blaine?"
"Sounds great!" Kurt chimes in, too brightly. "Just for a little while?"
I look up at his hopeful expression, and take a deep breath. A short walk. Rob will be there. Safety in numbers. Just a short walk. "Okay."
He grins excitedly and kisses my cheek. "We're going for a walk in the city!"
"A short one," I remind him. He's already heading to the closet to pick out the perfect scarf.
Nobody is out in Lima at eleven o'clock at night, but in New York the streets always seem to be bustling with people. Rob and Anya live in the Upper East Side, in the Carnegie Hill neighborhood. They like it because it's close to their friends and Anya's office. I like it because it's only a few blocks away from a hospital, in case anything happens.
Kurt got really quiet when I said that, so I haven't mentioned it again.
A taxi barrels past us, and I move further away from the street. Kurt tucks his arm through mine. "Okay?"
He starts to point out some of the local stores and restaurants he's visited. "Over there is the tailor who took in those green slacks you like on me so much—"
"I'll have to thank him sometime. Your ass could stop traffic in those pants."
"And over there is the only dry cleaner Anya recommends in the area. She swears they can get blood out of anything."
"How often is she bleeding?" I ask, alarmed.
"Every month, I'd think."
"Oh. Right." I take a moment to be thankful I'm gay.
"Over there is where we buy our fruits and vegetables. A whole store, just for produce, can you believe it?"
He's glowing, here in the loud and noisy streets of New York City. I've never seen his eyes so bright with delight as he looks around, and I'm not the only one whose attention he is capturing. As we make our way down the block, I notice four different men looking him up and down with interest. He looks over and spots one of them, letting go of my arm to wave to him.
The guy saunters over to us. He looks like someone cut him out of an Abercrombie ad. I hate him before he's even opened his mouth. "Hey, handsome."
Kurt flushes. "Blaine, this is Donnie. He works at the florist where I got those beautiful daffodils last week. Donnie, this is Blaine, who I was telling you about."
The guy nods at me briefly. "So Kurt, did you think any more about that exhibit at the Guggenheim? I'd love to show you around sometime."
"Donnie's in school for art history," Kurt tells me. "He said he could take us through the museum and tell us all about the different artists."
"Or just Kurt, if you aren't up for it," the guy says, glancing at me.
I notice that Rob and Anya have stopped walking and are making their way back to us. "I'm not sure we'll have a chance," I say, my pulse starting to pound. "Kurt and I are moving soon. To the other side of town."
All four of their heads turn to me in unison.
"Wait, you're moving?" Rob asks. "When did that happen?"
"Kurt and Anya found a place today. A loft." My mouth is talking faster than my brain can think. "It's in Greenwich Village."
Anya gives a little shriek. "You liked the loft? Kurt, why didn't you tell me? Should I put in a bid for you right now?"
Kurt is searching my face, stunned. "Blaine..."
"I've been thinking about it, and you're right, it's perfect," I tell him. "We have the money. We're never going to find another place that has everything we want."
He looks torn between elation and apprehension. "You're sure? You're not just saying that because—"
"I'm sure." I press a hard kiss to his lips, hoping it will mask whatever my face is giving away. "Let's make a home together."
Rob is shaking his head in confusion, but Anya is already on her cell phone, telling the sellers' real estate agent that we'll pay asking price for the loft, and Kurt is hugging me so hard it hurts my ribs a little, and Donnie is walking away from us at a brisk pace, and the traffic light on the corner is turning green, and ready or not, here we go.