Disclaimer: I do not own Glee or any of its characters; Ryan Murphy and Co. hold that honor. I'm simply writing this for fun, not profit.
Blaine's customary go-to Christmas presents were simple: his friends were usually of the more feminine or masculine sort, so anything furry and warm worked well with the girls and something athletic like football gear suited the guys. For nearly eighteen years he had never had a problem buying people presents because they either enjoyed stereotypes or, in the case of his more diligent acquaintances, provided him with handy lists that he was free to pick and choose from. (Wes and David were both notorious for wish lists.)
With Kurt, everything was different. He didn't want to walk in with something that he could have given Sam or Finn or Puck and been happy with. Of course, he couldn't give Kurt something that would have suited one of the girls, either, since his extravagantly creative mind usually short-circuited when presented with the reality that Kurt was still very much masculine and not the type to approve of feminine accessories.
So Blaine was at a loss for the first time ever when it came to buying someone a Christmas present. Even buying Wes presents had been simpler purely because he provided lists to go off of. When Blaine tried to subtly insinuate that Kurt should start thinking about the upcoming holidays, Kurt had only smiled and said that he was and had plenty of arrangements already made out.
Which Blaine found mostly to his liking, since it meant liberal amounts of hot chocolate and time spent in front of the fire. (Of course, he felt a little guilty knowing that he and Kurt were bundled up warmly indoors while Finn slaved away at shoveling the driveway outside in a blizzard, but his temptation to offer a helping hand had evaporated as soon as Kurt reminded him that his parents weren't home and cuddling wasn't the only option available to them.) He found himself thoroughly distracted for the first full week of December in the midst of tumultuous preparations wherein Kurt scoured every inch of the Hudson-Hummel residence in Christmasy galore.
The best part of it all had been setting up the tree in the living room. Blaine came from a more conservative family that preferred the modern variety of fake trees. Going out to one of the tree nurseries and picking out the most festive looking specimen Finn, Kurt, and he could find was a new experience. At Dalton, the teachers had always upheld the sacred task of finding Christmas trees and bedecking the halls with them. At the Hudson-Hummel residence, it had been the tradition of the boys, even when Kurt and Finn had lived separately. The three of them had wrestled the pine into submission in the back of Burt's truck. After one near loss as Finn failed to secure it properly, they had gotten it back to Kurt's place and set up in short time. Overall, Blaine was impressed with how enjoyable the process was, laughing and talking with Kurt and Finn and half-wondering why his parents had never thought of this before.
Too much clean-up afterwards, I suppose, he had thought, looking at the ground before Finn had spread out the red tarp to protect the carpet from the worst of the needle-shedding.
As soon as the tree had been fully integrated into the living room, Kurt and Blaine had spent hours assembling the decorations around it. Normally Blaine spent at most a half-hour with his mom getting everything put together, but with Kurt it was different. Everything had to fit into a broader picture, so there was no accidental placement of ornaments or haphazard fall of tinsel. There was a proper place for everything, and while Blaine would have been satisfied just throwing the decorations on in any order, watching Kurt and helping when he could with his method was even more enjoyable. He was an artist: he saw small, intricate details coming together, and when at last they stepped back and looked at their creation, Blaine couldn't help but grinning madly because it really looked spectacular.
"It's great," he had told Kurt, pressing a kiss to his cheek and smiling at him. "Absolutely perfect."
The rest of the day Blaine remembered being spent with lazy kisses and warm embraces, savoring each other's presence.
Now that they were rapidly approaching week three in December, however, Blaine was in crisis mode as he realized how little thought he had truly given to Kurt's Christmas present. He wanted it to be something to show how much he cared about and loved Kurt, how he listened when he spoke and loved listening to him, how everything that Kurt did was a new experience for him because Kurt seemed to make everything amazing. Despite all of the conversations he had participated in and listened to, however, he couldn't think of a single item that stood out as the conglomeration of them all.
He needed something, but he couldn't think of anything. All of the mundane presents he discarded almost as soon as he thought of them. There was nothing particularly extravagant Kurt wanted that he could surprise him with, either, creating an even greater dilemma within him. He wanted to surprise Kurt, to have something really special for him, but at the same time knowing what he wanted would have put at ease the horrible little voice that told Blaine he would pick something wrong and Kurt would reject it.
It tormented Blaine at night as he lied on his bed shifting restlessly, the days dwindling down and his stock of ideas unpleasantly empty. He had had dozens of ideas, perhaps hundreds at that point, but nothing clicked, nothing seemed just right. He refusedto give Kurt anything less than just right. Kurt deserved it, deserved something amazing.
Because Blaine had given him everything, given him his heart, and that merited something more than an ordinary Christmas present.
To spare his fretting conscience, he had already gone through his other list twice, searching relentlessly for gifts for other people and finding them with relative ease. Most people were easy—Wes and David always wanted the same thing and that year it was watches—but there were a few that required particular care, such as Santana. Blaine didn't know why he felt inclined to buy her a present, except for the fact that she would probably murder him in his sleep if he didn't, so he had added her to the list and eventually found a scarf that she should appreciate.
Kurt was a different matter entirely, however; not because he feared that he would cause him bodily harm if he rejected the gift, but because it would kill Blaine inside to know that he had given Kurt something mediocre on their first Christmas as boyfriends.
That was huge. Enormously, indescribably huge, and Blaine was not about to waste it by doing something he would regret later on.
So he browsed and browsed and browsed, endlessly scouring stores and ideas and even online for something, anything that would stick out. Nothing did—all of the normal guilty pleasures were out, since those were predictable—and he despaired as the third week of December drew steadily towards its end.
I have to buy him something, he thought feverishly. There was no way he wasn't going to give Kurt anything, not least because he would look like a complete jerk for giving everyone else a present and not his boyfriend. It was hard to focus on that, however, when his conscience kept unhelpfully pointing out that he hadn't even come near something that he wanted to give Kurt.
It came as no surprise when he bumped into Rory, sending the latter's books scattering across the linoleum floor. "Oof," Rory said, looking down at his books in a sort of exasperated dismay. "Sorry 'bout that," he added perfunctorily as he bent down to gather them into a pile.
"It was my fault," Blaine said apologetically, crouching down beside him and scooping the half of books nearest to him into an intelligible group. "Sorry, Rory. I wasn't looking."
"I can see that," Rory said, looking up and flashing a grin at him. "You seemed a bit distracted by somethin'."
"Honestly?" Blaine climbed back to his feet and handed the books to Rory, who made a grateful noise before accepting them and sorting them back in his locker. "I'll be really happy once I've figured this all out."
"What's not to understand?" Rory asked, frowning slightly as he turned to look at Blaine. "I mean, I know Ms. Sylvester's kind of terrifying with her paradin' about and all, but the rest of it seems pretty self-explanatory. Same 'ere in America as in Ireland, you know. Only less snow," he added with a slight smile. "You seem to have it luckier 'ere. So much for 'luck o' the Irish.'"
"Oh, trust me, once we get hit by our first major blizzard you won't be saying that," Blaine assured, settling into a comfortable rhythm of explaining his woes (pointedly leaving out Kurt's name) while Rory added commentary about Ireland whenever appropriate. It was a soothing routine, something that Blaine found simple and welcome in a world that seemed increasingly more complicated by college applications and other worries. Just having someone like Rory around who didn't mind discussing other topics or elaborating more on some Irish traditions was like a breath of fresh air in the continuously musty hallways at McKinley.
"So, when are you going to get them a present?" Rory asked at last, sitting in the choir room chair one level below in front of him as he turned to look at Blaine. "I mean, I know there's somethin' of a tradition in procrastinatin', but this seems pretty important to me."
"Hugely important," Blaine agreed. "I just . . . I don't know what to buy. At all. And this should be really simple because I know this person but. . . ." He sighed, waving a hand to demonstrate his own inadequacy.
Rory hummed, his brow furrowed pensively as he thought. He looked like he was considering Blaine's comment, his voice slow and steady as he answered. "You should jus' trust your instincts on this one," he said. "If it's meant to work out, it'll work out."
Blaine sighed, wanting to feel relieved because it was true—if it was meant to work out, then he would find the perfect gift and everything would be okay—but there was that nagging feeling of what would happen if it didn't work out. Horrible suspicions of Kurt leaving for college and never returning or contacting him again crowded into his mind, the worst of which involved Kurt finding another gay man (who was taller, and more cultured, and less prone to bouts of obliviousness when it came to the person he liked) to date instead. The thought made Blaine's heart ache and the desire to wrap Kurt in his arms and never let go nearly overwhelm him.
Stop it, he chastised himself, as Kurt walked in, Rachel chattering away on his arm as she trailed in after him. You can't hold onto him forever, and you can't tie him down and not let him follow his dreams. If that's what he wants, then you should support it, not criticize it.
Still, trying to support the idea was worse than pulling teeth, so Blaine clenched his fingers on his knee and said nothing, only letting out a sharp exhale of surprise when Kurt's voice spoke from right beside him.
"Someone looks like he drank too much coffee," he said dryly, nudging Blaine's shoulder lightly. He blinked, then relaxed his nearly white-knuckled grip on his knee, letting out a shaky laugh in return. Kurt frowned at him as he plopped down into the seat beside him, gaze darting over him scrutinizingly. "Or not enough," he assessed at last. "Are you sick?"
"No," Blaine said at once. "I'm just . . . tired."
It sounded lame even to his own ears, but Kurt nodded and patted his arm sympathetically, a soft grin on his face. He had complained that it was harder to sleep without Blaine right beside him after their first time, especially since there had been so many good things connected with that night, so he understood that pangs of wanting someone there that couldn't be. They could cuddle for hours and spend even longer on the phone, but nothing cured that unquenchable desire to be close to each other, all the time. Part of Blaine worried that something was even wrong with him until he realized that Kurt was having the same problems, his sheepish smiles and soft glances answer enough to Blaine's inquiries. Blaine's parents would have had difficulty swallowing the idea that Blaine had a boyfriend, let alone one he had—well, had sex with, even though it was so, so much more than that that he hated to even call it the same thing. 'Made love' sounded right, but Blaine blushed every time he said it and reverted to a knowing silence instead. Still, whatever the act of intimacy was, it had created that need between them, and Blaine knew that Kurt understood why he was so tired all of the time. He couldn't sleep as well without Kurt there any more, some side of him already perfectly integrated to having Kurt there next to him instead of cold, empty sheets.
"Hello? Earth to Blaine?"
Speaking of Kurt. Blaine blinked again and forced himself to focus on the present as Schuester rattled off some speech at the front about their upcoming events. He found his head bobbing along absentmindedly, trying and failing to be attentive, and noticed from the corner of his eye that Kurt was watching him more often than Schuester, his hand sliding to grasp Blaine's in a light, pleasant hold.
When Schuester clasped his hands together a final time, Blaine was already on his feet, half-prepared to burst into song (the most popular notion whenever Schuester stopped speaking) or leave. The latter proved true as the bell rang, Kurt rising a moment later with an amused smile in Blaine's direction as he gave his upper left arm a squeeze. "What's the rush?" he asked. "Date with someone?" He smiled wolfishly at that, knowing, knowing that he was Blaine's boyfriend but still enjoying that Blaine had to admit it.
Blaine smiled back, leaned in and brushed his nose against Kurt's in a brief eskimo kiss, and whispered, "Not until tonight at six at the Breadstix," before turning and walking down the tiers without another word. He could feel Kurt smiling at his back and he smiled in return, his steps a little lighter despite his heart being heavier than ever.
What am I supposed to do? he begged whatever divine being might be listening. How am I supposed to find the perfect gift for Kurt?
"So then I told her, 'Mercedes, he will be just as happy with a football as a helmet,' and she relented," Kurt finished, waving a bread stick triumphantly. "I mean, I know Marcus has high tastes for picking Mercedes in the first place, but he's not exactly a hard-to-please guy, if you get my drift. Finn's the same way—buy him a football and he's happy. I heard," he added, leaning in conspiratorially, "that he bought Rachel an African pig for Christmas."
"You're kidding," Blaine deadpanned, breaking off part of a bread stick and tossing it in his mouth. Kurt shook his head earnestly, grinning broadly as he explained that the pig would feed a family for a month once it had been properly fattened, Blaine shaking his head in amusement.
"I wish I was there to see the reaction," Kurt finished wistfully. "I know I could be, but I figure it's their moment of awkwardness to share."
"I think it's sweet," Blaine said, smiling as he popped the rest of the bread stick in his mouth.
Kurt rolled his eyes and nudged his shin lightly under the table, warning, "Don't get any ideas," and instantly reminding Blaine of his own plight.
It was harder to keep his attention focused on Kurt from then on, his thoughts continually side-tracking towards potential gifts and how Kurt would react to them. The worst scenarios involved Kurt rejecting the gifts outright, the second-worst Kurt not enjoying the presents, and the third worst Kurt tolerating the presents. Blaine cringed inwardly every time he thought of Kurt unraveling a gift and, instead of lighting up, looking crestfallen as he examined the contents. Blaine stammered out an order to the waitress when she came by, not even knowing what he ordered as he picked the first thing off the menu and resumed listening to Kurt's discourse (which was thankfully energetic enough that he didn't even have to worry about him noticing Blaine's slips in attention).
Blaine couldn't help watching Kurt's hands as he motioned, his flawless skin tone contrasting with Blaine's slightly darker tan. His fingers were long and elegant, a pianist or a painter's, a musician's or an artist's, because that was what Kurt was. Blaine didn't even realize that he'd been staring at them outright for nearly three minutes until Kurt told him, without breaking his conversational stride, that he had been doing so and if Kurt had some hideous blemish only others could see would Blaine please let him know?
Slightly abashed at being caught, Blaine scoffed and casually denied his claims of any staring, noticing the dry edge to Kurt's smile as he listened to him.
At last, when they had both cleared their plates (and Blaine's order had been a surprisingly good platter of some form of pasta or another; he would have to ask Kurt about it later), Kurt leaned his head on his palms and stopped speaking, smiling at Blaine. Glancing around, half-wondering what had merited the sudden attention, Blaine flushed as he realized that they were one of the only tables left, the rest having disappeared to their own abodes. Looking back at Kurt, he couldn't help but smile back, reaching across the table and holding his hand invitingly outstretched, palm-up. Kurt tilted his head before accepting it, sliding his own hands down to grasp it in both, and suddenly Blaine's throat felt dry at the mirror image of when Kurt had asked him to prom.
Kurt smiled, gave his hand a squeeze, and said, "Thank you for choosing me to be your boyfriend."
To that, Blaine had only one response, and if Kurt might have teased him later for unoriginality, then Blaine didn't mind.
Because, quite simply, all he could say to that was, "Thank you for choosing me."
Christmas was still hurtling towards them and gaining speed, the twentieth arriving before Blaine could even fully comprehend that they were that close. He only had five more days, four because of the fact that he couldn't actually buy Kurt a present on Christmas, and the panic radar instilled within him was officially on 'freak out' mode.
He was snappish and fidgety, so much so that even Rachel commented on it when he insisted that their 'Extraordinary Merry Christmas' number didn't need a fifth rehearsal. He had backtracked when he realized how short-tempered he had come across by saying that he was feeling under the weather and was sorry for taking it out on her. Rachel had sniffed but taken one look at his overtaxed self and sighed with an 'if you must' air before turning to practice some other number with Mercedes.
Kurt ambled over to Blaine's seat in the auditorium, plunking down in the seat beside him and lacing their fingers together companionably. Blaine's fingers were slightly clammy, adding to the illusion that he was coming down with an illness, and Kurt frowned at him in concern. "Are you going to be okay for the day?" he asked. Blaine was glad he didn't immediately tell him that he should go to the nurse—for all that Kurt claimed Blaine's puppy eyes were effective, Kurt's arguing skills were second-to-none—because it was easier to shake his head and say that he would be fine for the rest of the day, he would take it easy for the afternoon and get a good night's rest. Kurt looked at him with inquiring eyes for several moments longer before giving his hand one last squeeze and saying that, if he was sure, he wasn't going to protest Blaine's decisions.
When school finally ended and Blaine was free to leave, however, he immediately racked his brain for any ideas and didn't stop until he had a couple dozen listed. His fingers twitched relentlessly with the urge to strike them all out as wrong. He had to look at it logically, had to think about it from a reasonable perspective instead of the perpetual there's no way I'm going to get this right attitude that wanted to dominate him.
He breathed deeply and kept his eyes closed, focusing on the ideas that had made it onto the list, trying to put together something he could be satisfied with.
All material goods seemed meaningless in the face of how important Kurt was to him. Kurt was everything. From the moment he had come into Blaine's life, he had shaken his world, changed how he viewed things and altered his perception of people forever. He had given him courage in ways that Blaine hadn't even known had existed, had been able to help him confront his personal demons from the past and even take enjoyment from the experience. He had shown him laughter and love and joy to new levels, and Blaine rubbed at his forehead desperately as he tried to think of something, anything, that would possibly convey how much he loved Kurt Hummel for all of it.
I don't want this to be a present, he thought at last, glancing over with weary eyes at the clock, stunned to realize that he had dozed off and it was now one in the morning. I want this to mean something.
With only three days to go and no greater insights, however, Blaine wasn't sure if he could find something that would work.
He didn't bother with the weary trek to his bed, instead flopping down on the couch with a pen and paper and sheer determination to solve it.
It had to be something tangible but also meaningful. The former ruled out any sort of act of appreciation, while the latter discarded most of his ideas.
In the end, as he was swaying perilously between near-sleep and sleep, he jolted upright as he realized it.
This has to mean something, he thought, writing feverishly, trying to capture the idea before he lost it. It has to be something tangible and real, but it has to mean something.
When his frantic scribbles had died off and he was left with only the finished result in front of him, he smiled in satisfaction, wearily tucking the paper and pen on the floor out of sight underneath the couch.
That's it, he thought, a tremendous weight leaving his shoulders, certainty and relief overwhelming him. That's perfect.
There was nothing better than waking up next to Kurt on Christmas morning.
Blaine had no idea how he had won over Burt, but somehow Kurt had managed the feat and been permitted to have Blaine sleep over, 'if his parents were okay with it.' Considering his parents were agnostics and out of town, Blaine assured him that he had no trouble with the arrangement whatsoever and had, after staging a completely private and mortifying celebratory dance, agreed to come over.
The night before had been fantastic, with Christmas caroling and talking endlessly and staying up late whispering 'Merry Christmas' to each other once it reached midnight and sharing sweet little kisses that wouldn't upset Kurt's dad or wake anyone. Blaine was cuddled close to Kurt, almost clutching at him, while Kurt rested his chin on top of Blaine's head and let Blaine nuzzle in close. When they had both dozed off, comfortable, warm, and content, time had passed languidly, Blaine feeling like he was actually resting for the first time in weeks as he slept beside Kurt.
All good things had to come to an end, though, and after exchanging sleepy 'good morning's and 'Merry Christmas's once more, Kurt had risen to do his morning routine while Blaine had feigned sleep once more, unable to stop smiling.
I can't wait to give you your gift, he thought, curling closer to Kurt's covers and relishing how they smelled so much like Kurt, beautifully, overwhelmingly of him. It felt like the safest place in the world, second only to Kurt himself, and Blaine knew he would have been purring in satisfaction if he possessed such capacities.
Waiting until Kurt was clearly engrossed in his shower, Blaine rose and quickly threw together a more Christmas-morning appropriate outfit. He and Kurt had mutually agreed to being fully clothed to placate Kurt's dad, but it was still nice switching from night clothes to one of his warmer outfits, cardigan softer than should be allowed as he tugged it over his shoulders. He heard Kurt pattering around across the hall, most likely finishing up his routine by the time Blaine had finished addressing his wildly splayed hair and was halfway presentable. Kurt reappeared moments later, fresh and beaming, fully clothed in one of his most extravagant outfits. He walked over to Blaine and smiled at him, a sweet, innocent gesture that made Blaine's heart warm disproportionately. Then he turned and walked back into his bedroom to finish his morning skin care regimen and Blaine laughed, sidling off to the bathroom to take care of domestic concerns before re-emerging and trotting downstairs.
He had his present strategically hidden under the tree. It had taken him almost as long to figure out where to put the gift as it had to figure out what gift he would give Kurt, but in the end he was happy with his selection and content to sit on the end of the couch and wait for Kurt to emerge. He walked downstairs with slow, easy steps, half-curious, half-wary, and Blaine smiled at him as he tucked his legs underneath himself and waited.
The tree had a variety of presents underneath it, mostly boxes for Finn and Kurt, a couple for Burt and Carole and, Blaine had noticed without touching, two boxes addressed to him (one from Burt and Carole, the other from Finn). The latter had surprised him—he honestly hadn't expected them to buy anything for him, and he certainly hadn't asked—but it touched him in a way that made him grateful to be included, to be considered a part of the family, in some ways.
He itched with the urge to get up and shove Kurt's present in his hands, waiting until Kurt had wandered cautiously over to the tree on his own where the single red envelope was perched jauntily near the top of the tree, with a clear address to 'KURT' written on the front. After a moment's hesitation, Kurt plucked it from its perch and slit the seal in one smooth movement, pulling the note out with a careful hand.
Blaine knew what it said, breathless and eager, his hands barely able to restrain themselves as he stroked a thumb over the tiny red box in his hands.
Kurt turned around slowly, his expression soft and considering, while Blaine stood, his hands still clasped behind his back. "You mean," he said, holding the box out and hearing Kurt's surprised gasp and oh, it was better than Blaine had anticipated, the way his eyes lit up, the way his smile turned big and warm and genuine, "so much to me," he finished, his fingers grasping the lid of the box carefully. "And this," he said, slowly lifting the lid, Kurt staring alternately at the box and Blaine's face with the same amazed intensity, "is a promise ring. I know that we're young and indecisive and everything else, but—"
He couldn't get anything else out as Kurt wrapped him in a bone-crushing hug then, practically leaping at him while simultaneously catching him before they could crash to the floor. "Oh, Blaine," he whispered, over and over, and Blaine smiled as he turned and pressed his lips against Kurt's cheek, pressing soft, feather light kisses there. "I can't believe—this is—God, I love you. And I accept," he added, almost loftily but with a watery edge that said he was on the verge of either laughter or tears, more probably both. "I love you, I love you, I love you."
"I love you, too," Blaine said, laughing, squeezing Kurt back while somehow keeping the ring between them. "I want to be yours forever, Kurt, and I want you to be mine, but until then . . . this is to us." He pulled back enough that he could slide the ring onto Kurt's finger and then Kurt was smiling, his eyes bright, and Blaine could tell from the way he set aside the box a moment later and wrapped his arms around Blaine's shoulders that he would have cried if he didn't think it would be such an indignity.
"I'm so glad you feel the same," he said, and Blaine smiled, feeling a peace and sense of pride that he hadn't felt before when he decided on a promise ring for Kurt.
It was perfect, not only because was it a tangible reminder of what they had, what they could have eventually, but also because it was a symbol of everything Blaine wanted to be to Kurt, and everything he wanted Kurt to be in return.
Best Christmas ever, he thought, smiling against Kurt's shoulder while the latter smiled and laughed.
Author's Notes: Rumor has it that the box actually contained a bubble-gum wrapper promise ring, but for this, Blaine just bought Kurt a 'normal' ring instead of crafting his own. :)