A/N: I am really, really sorry about how long it took to get this chapter up, and I hope you haven't all given up on me! I have been sick pretty much constantly since October, and that took a lot out of me...not to mention, I was a little sad about finishing it! But...here it is. The big fluffy ending to this big, not-always-fluffy journey. Thank you all, for your feedback, your love, for sticking with me and Kurt and Blaine and Annika to the end. For recommending this fic on your Tumblrs and journals and forums, for all of your love and encouragement and suggestions. I appreciate it more than you know.
We belong here
We belong here
There ain't nobody that can tell us we're wrong
Hear me say, say this to you
I'll stand by your side and see you through
I promise you that I will keep you safe from harm
Love you all the rest of my days
When the night is silent and we seem so far away
I love you and I don't know what to say.
~Ryan Adams, "I Love You And I Don't Know What To Say"
"Teeth brushed?" Kurt asked. "Face washed? Hair done? Moisturizer applied?"
Annika gave him a blank look, and Kurt tsked, going to the medicine cabinet and coming back with a little tub of moisturizer, gently rubbing it into her cheeks. "There. *Now* you're ready for your first day of second grade."
Blaine chose that moment to walk into the bathroom, looking amused. "Only you would put moisturizer on a seven year old," he said affectionately, wrapping his arms around Kurt's waist.
"It is never too early for a good facial care regime," Kurt replied. "Right, Anni?"
"Sure," Annika replied skeptically. "Can we go now?"
Blaine kissed Kurt's cheek, then let go. "Yeah, we should, before we miss the bus. Your backpack and shoes are on the counter, let me get the camera..." he scurried off, and Kurt took Annika's hand, leading her back into the kitchen to finish getting ready. He wasn't sure how he had ended up spending more time at Blaine's apartment, even during the week, but it worked, and he loved helping parent Annika, loved being part of a family, and Blaine and Annika weren't sick of him yet, so he counted this as a good thing.
He was helping Annika with her shoes when Blaine returned with the camera, snapping away. "Are you going to put this on your blog?" he asked affectionately, grabbing Annika's backpack and handing it to her.
"Of course," he said. "Okay, ready?" he tucked the camera into its case, taking the hand that Kurt wasn't holding, heading down to the bus stop.
They managed to get Annika to school with only minor tears (on Blaine's part) and then they parted ways, Kurt heading to work and Blaine heading back home to write. "I'll come by after work," Kurt promised, wrapping his arms around Blaine's neck.
"Are you spending the night?" Blaine asked, and Kurt nodded. "That was the plan. I have to grab some stuff from my apartment first, but I'll be back in time for dinner." he spotted a cab, flagging it down.
"You know that we could solve this if you would just move in," Blaine called as Kurt got in the cab.
"We'll see," Kurt called through the open window, blowing Blaine a kiss as the cab sped away.
"How was your day?" Blaine held out Annika's jacket for her to stick her arms through. "Did you make lots of new friends?"
"Where's Kurt?" Annika wanted to know, pulling her coat on.
"At work," Blaine replied, laughing. "How was your day, Anni?"
"Oh." Annika shrugged. "It was good. I'm in the Sunflower group. I ate lunch with a girl named Annabella and then we played with her friends at recess. We did music and art and gym and science and humanities but we just met our teachers."
"That sounds great!" Blaine enthused. "I'm glad you're making friends!"
Annika nodded absently, pulling on her backpack and reaching up for Blaine's hand. "It would have been better if Kurt came to pick me up," she grumbled, which made Blaine smile and rumple her hair (much to her chagrin) and then reach for her hand. "Kurt had to work," he said reasonably. "Why don't we go get him some coffee and surprise him at work?"
Annika considered this, deciding it was a reasonable tradeoff, and accepted Blaine's proffered hand. "Okay," she agreed. "Let's do that."
Kurt was absolutely up to his eyeballs in work and other, rather more important, things to read when he heard someone tap on his office door. "Come in," he called, quickly minimizing The Knot's page of proposal tips, pulling his glasses off his head and trying to look busy.
"Surprise!" Blaine's voice startled him, and he looked up to find Annika, clutching a drink tray, and Blaine, hovering behind her in case of spills.
"We brought you a drink," Annika chirped, setting the drink tray carefully on Kurt's desk and extricating his drink to hand it to him.
Kurt smiled, leaning forward to kiss Annika's cheek and then standing to hug Blaine and kiss him. "What a nice surprise," he said, taking a sip of his drink, "and this is perfect."
Annika beamed with pride, and Kurt smiled at her, getting an idea. "Blaine," he requested, "Can you go find Mona and ask her if the McLellan article is ready?She'll know what I'm talking about."
Blaine looked momentarily confused, but nodded and turned to leave, Annika making a move like she was going to follow him until Kurt pulled her back, whispering something in her ear. Her eyes got wide, but she nodded, and when Blaine was gone, she dutifully went to shut Kurt's office door, looking expectantly up at him.
Taking a deep breath, Kurt bent down until he was at her level, his hands on her shoulders. "Anni," he said, "Tonight, I'm going to ask your dad to marry me."
Annika's face lit up, and she gasped with excitement, and Kurt continued, "Is that okay with you?"
Annika nodded vigorously, practically bouncing with the sheer excitement of the prospect, and Kurt continued. "Okay. You have to keep it a secret, understand? When we get out of here, we're going to go to my apartment, and your daddy is going to go home. You've got a big job, you have to help me with the flowers. And then we're going to go back to your apartment and you're going to get your daddy to sit in the living room and then I'm going to ask him, okay? It's very important for you to do that so everything is just perfect, do you think you can do that?"
Annika nodded solemnly, and Kurt smiled, kissing her cheek. "I knew I could depend on you."
Annika nodded again, and suddenly her face lit up like she'd just had a brilliant thought. "Kurt," she said, "Does this mean you'll be my dad too?"
Kurt smiled again, nodding. "I guess it will."
Annika wrapped her arms tight around him. "I always wanted two daddies," she said against his neck.
Kurt hugged her tight. "I always wanted a little girl like you."
"I'm going to bring Annika back to my apartment with me when I go to pick up my stuff," Kurt said as Blaine walked back into his office. "So if you want to head back home, Anni and I will meet you at your place at 6:30?"
Blaine glanced over at Annika, who was perched in her very own 'spinny chair' next to Kurt, wearing a pair of sunglasses she had found in a desk drawer, pretending to work on Kurt's iPad. "Are you sure? I don't want to leave her here if she's going to be trouble."
Under her sunglasses, Annika rolled her eyes, and Kurt shook his head. "She's perfect," he assured him. "Right, Annika?"
Annika looked at Kurt over the top of her sunglasses, one eyebrow arched. "I'm working," she informed him, and Kurt struggled to keep a straight face. "See?" he told Blaine. "Perfect. We'll see you when we get there." he stood up to kiss Blaine lightly. "Love you."
"Love you," Blaine echoed, then kissed Annika on the cheek. "Be good, baby. Listen to Kurt."
Annika gave him a death glare. "I'm working, Daddy."
"Right." Blaine nodded seriously. "Okay, my little worker bees. See you when you get home."
Once Blaine was gone, Kurt held out his fist for a fist bump. "He doesn't suspect a thing."
Annika gave him a look. "Working."
"Right." Kurt smiled, giving his own work one last look over. "Well, finish up, because we've got more important things to do tonight."
Blaine was setting the table when Annika and Kurt finally arrived, and he smiled, padding out into the front room to greet them. "Hi," he said, "How was work?"
"Sit down!" Annika demanded, thrusting the flowers she'd been carrying for Kurt at him, and Kurt momentarily hid his face behind his hands so she wouldn't be able to tell that he was laughing at her. "...please."
"What's this about?" Blaine asked, eyes twinkling with boyish delight, fussing with the flowers, and for the first time, Kurt felt a little scared.
"Sit down," he said, a little gentler than Annika had. "We have something to ask you." Once Blaine was sitting, he knelt in front of him, withdrawing from his pocket the ring he'd been hanging onto for thirteen years and suddenly finding himself lost for words. "Blaine...I...that is, um." cursing himself for losing the speech he had spent so much time rehearsing in the mirror, he settled for holding the ring out to him. "Blaine, will you marry me?"
There was a moment of silence, Blaine with an unreadable expression on his face and Annika practically vibrating with excitement in the background, and Kurt was sure, in that moment, that Blaine was going to say no. It was too soon—despite Kurt's careful calculation of thisdate in particular—he had done something wrong, Blaine had changed his mind about them. But then, just as soon as the moment had begun, it was over, and Blaine had his arms flung around Kurt's neck, sobbing, nodding, repeating "Yes, yes, yes, yes yes," over and over, hugging Kurt so tightly he was certain he would never let go, Annika working her way in to hug them both, and it didn't surprise Kurt when he felt tears on his own face, his fingers shaking as he slid the ring onto Blaine's finger and then taking his face in his hands and kissing him.
"Ew," Annika said, wrinkling her nose, and Blaine pulled away, laughing, to admire the ring. "Let's go eat dinner," he suggested, leaning in to whisper in Kurt's ear, "We'll get back to that later," before gesturing for both of them to follow him into the dining room.
After what felt like a thousand "one-last-stories" and a couple hundred good night kisses, Kurt finally emerged from Annika's bedroom, letting the door click softly behind him, flopping down next to Blaine, who set his laptop on the floor and wrapped his arms around him, kissing him deeply. "She sleeping?" he asked, his fingers already pulling Kurt's shirt out.
Kurt nodded, pressing a kiss against Blaine's jaw, his own hands going up under Blaine's shirt.
Blaine paused, then, resting his forehead against Kurt's. "We're...really going to do this?" he asked, his eyes searching Kurt's face.
Kurt nodded. "For real, this time," he promised. "Forever and always."
Blaine seemed to relax. "Good," he said, nodding and kissing Kurt hard. "Good, because I love you and I never want to live without you again."
"You won't have to," Kurt promised, taking Blaine's hand and leading him to bed.
As if this year didn't come with enough bombshells, I have some more news!
I'm getting married! Or really, I guess, Kurt and I are getting married, since he's part of this blog too.
I never thought I would get married again. I never thought that there would ever be a time when I felt like I loved someone enough to marry them, not after all of the things I'd been through. I owed it to Annika, and I owed it to myself.
But it's funny—a year ago yesterday, I made a post, and I'm going to copy that post here:
Nobody marries their first love. Okay, maybe some people do, but most people don't even have a long term relationship with their first love, let alone get married to them and be with them forever.
And that's just the way life goes. We are flighty, awful creatures, us humans, and when we get bored with one thing-or one person-we move on to the next. Of course eventually we find the person we want to settle down with for the rest of our lives-or think we want to settle down with, anyway-and get married and maybe have a kid or two or twenty. And sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn't, and that, too, is the way life goes.
Sometimes I think it would be easier if we all just married our first love. Not the person you were crazy for for months and they ignored you and completely crushed your heart, but that first person who made you feel like maybe this whole love thing could work for you after all, the first person who filled your heart and soul with more happiness and completeness than you even knew could exist. I mean, they were the first person to make you feel that way, after all, so that has to account for something, doesn't it?
Do you know why that's funny? Because I am marrying my first love. It may have taken us a long time to get here, and it may not be the fairytale happily-ever-after I daydreamed about when we were teenagers, but I'm marrying him. And this time, we're going to get it right.
Blaine hit publish on the post, humming happily, and then checked the time. Kurt was picking Annika up from school, and Rachel was taking them out for a celebratory dinner after she got out of rehearsals, so Blaine found himself with two hours with nothing to do. He had just sat down with one of the wedding magazines he had (rather guiltily) bought that morning when he dropped Annika off at school when the phone rang.
"Are you out of you rmind?"
"Um...hi to you too, Nina?" he flipped through the magazine, pondering over a color scheme of blue and green.
"What made you think that you could do that?"
Oh shit. Blaine sighed. "Nina, I am a-"
"-What made you think that you could just publish a post about getting engaged without first texting me the second that ring was on your finger? And you call yourself my best friend, Blaine Anderson!"
Blaine let out his breath in a little laugh. "Sorry. I guess I just kind of got overzealous."
"I can't believe he asked you to marry him!" Nina's voice was shrill, excited, and it sent a little thrill of excitement through Blaine, too. "Did you have any idea beforehand or was it a surprise?"
"Total surprise." Blaine stuck a sticky note on a page full of wedding cakes. "I...not that I didn't want him to, just that I thought that we weren't there yet. I mean, I've been there for a long, long time, but I thought maybe he'd never get there."
"Well, I'm glad he finally came around. I'm happy for you. I might not be your publicist anymore, but I'm still your friend. I expect to know everything!"
"Of course. I'm going to need someoneto help me plan this thing."
"I'm sure Kurt will have that under control, but if you need anything, just call me. I love you!"
"Love you too." Blaine hung up the phone, flipping the magazine shut. He needed to go get ready for dinner.
"I still can't believe it," Rachel said as they settled in at their table. "This is onlythe wedding we've been planning since eleventh grade, and here we finally are."
Blaine pushed Annika's chair in and then took a seat next to Kurt, reaching for his hand. Kurt smiled, giving Blaine's hand a squeeze. "I was sure he was going to say no," he admitted. "I almost didn't take the chance."
Blaine looked over at Kurt with a look that would have probably made Annika make throwing-up noises if she hadn't been completely preoccupied with the iPad. "I'm glad you took the chance," he said. "I love you so much."
"I love you." Kurt leaned over and kissed Blaine, which was exactly the moment Annika chose to look up. "Ewww," she said. "Parents are icky."
"I agree. I'll distract them." Rachel tapped her fork on her wine glass. "A toast," she said. "To old loves, and new beginnings. To getting lost just to find your way again. To never giving up hope. To family. To forever."
Blaine and Kurt raised their glasses. "To forever," they echoed, then kissed again, much to Annika's chagrin.
Rachel wrapped her arms around her in a hug. "I tried," she sighed, "But I guess there's just no stopping the power of their love."
"I just wish they wouldn't kissso much," Annika sighed, turning her attention back to the iPad.
Blaine looked up. "Anni," he said, "Did I ever tell you the story of the first time Kurt and I ever met?"
Annika shook her head, looking curiously at him. "You didn't meet when he came from the magazine?" she asked, interested now.
"Nope." Blaine shook his head. "It was a long, long time ago, when we were still kids, and I was going to school with Uncle David and Uncle Wes. One day, a new boy came to school. A boy named Kurt. And I didn't know it at the time, but we were going to fall hopelessly in love..."
Blaine slid his laptop under the bed, reaching for Kurt, drawing him into his arms. "I'm so glad I decided not to ask for another journalist," he said, playing idly with Kurt's hair. "I don't know why I did, but I'm so glad I decided to take a chance."
"I'm so glad I decided to come back for Christmas that year," Kurt replied. "I'm so glad that I got some sense smacked into me before it was too late."
"I always knew you were my soulmate." Blaine kissed the top of Kurt's head. "I always knew this would happen, somehow."
Kurt made a happy humming noise. "You were always silly romantic like that."
"And you always loved it." Blaine closed his eyes, already starting to drift off. "...does this mean you're moving in now?"
Kurt laughed. "Yes. This means I'm moving in now. Go to sleep, Blaine."
Blaine nodded, his breathing getting slow and even. "Goodnight, I love you," he mumbled.
"I love you too," Kurt replied, but Blaine was already asleep, dreaming about the rest of forever.