See, I told you I wouldn't abandon this! I'm fine. I just got out of the habit of writing and it was hard to get back in. I do appreciate those of you who were concerned.
I'm posting this on Jan. 12, 2015 and I hope it will never be so long between updates again. In case you've forgotten, this is the morning after their first kiss (at least the first one that counted).
In the morning Kurt rushed through his shower in hopes of leaving the apartment before Jen and Annie emerged from the bedroom. He didn't really expect Blaine to be downstairs, especially given the lateness of their evening, but he figured it wouldn't hurt to check. He was nearly out the door when Jen appeared.
"What's your hurry, Handsome?" she drawled. "Got a hot date?"
"Who wants to know?" Kurt replied loftily.
"Ha! Nosy minds, more like," he retorted as he slipped out the door and closed it quietly behind him.
When he got downstairs, he frowned. The breakfast area wasn't crowded and it took Kurt only a moment to realize that their usual table was empty and Blaine was nowhere in sight. He was debating whether he should get something to eat or go back to the apartment when he realized the barista at the coffee bar was waving him over.
"Hey, Shelley," he said. "What's up?"
"I'll have your order ready in just a minute," she replied with a smile as she filled a cup and snapped the lid on.
"My order? I didn't order anything."
She glanced around the room before leaning in conspiratorially. "I wouldn't want to mention any names, but someone called it in a few minutes ago. He said to tell you that he won't be in until later and ..." She paused to refer to a slip of paper. "Oh, yeah! And that he hopes you have a good day and you should check your e-mail when you get a chance." She handed him the cup and a small bag.
"What's this?" Kurt asked, hefting the bag. "One of your oatmeal muffins? It feels a little light for that."
"I'm not supposed to sell them until the day after tomorrow, but they're so popular that we have to make them up ahead of time and freeze them. That person I won't name is such a sweetie that I just couldn't say 'no'. Don't tell on me, okay?"
"I won't breathe a word," Kurt assured her. "Can I peek, or would you rather I took it up to the apartment first?"
Shelley glanced around again. "You can look. Just leave them in the bag for now."
Blaine had been far too excited to fall asleep until the wee hours of the morning, and consequently had slept right through his alarm. By the time he actually pried his eyes open and got out of bed, it was so late he knew he wouldn't be able to make it to the Atlas before Kurt had to leave for Parsons. Fortunately Shelley was on duty and didn't mind doing him a favor, although he was pretty sure that asking for a couple of their famous Cupid cookies had tipped her off to the fact that he and Kurt were a little more than friends. Since he couldn't join Kurt for breakfast, he decided to take advantage of the time off to put Operation Woo Kurt Hummel in motion. The only problem was that he would have to get Heidi's approval for most of the things he had in mind. He opened his laptop and began to research flower meanings.
Jon sighed quietly. For some reason the scene wasn't working. It should have been simple. It was the same thing they did towards the end of every show. The eliminated designer walked in, packed up his tools and left. The lighting was subdued, as always, with a blue filter to lend an air of sadness, and Kurt was doing exactly what he was supposed to, but it just didn't feel right. "Okay, cut," he said. "Kurt, let's try it again, please. This time, slow down a little. Remember, you've just been eliminated and it's been a long day. You shouldn't have so much energy."
"Oh, sorry," Kurt laughed. "That's what happens when I eat cookies for breakfast." Especially when they're from the man I love. He let his shoulders slump slightly and cast his gaze downward. "How's this?"
"Much better," replied Jon. "Okay, everybody - from the top."
"Yes, Nana, it's all set up, just the way you wanted," Cecelia Robinson said into the phone. "As long as Kurt applies and is admitted, he'll receive the scholarship. If for some reason he doesn't apply or he doesn't meet their standards, ..."
"I told you not to worry about that," Nana interrupted impatiently. "That young man is smart and very talented. There's no way he won't get in."
"Yes, but if he changes his mind, you don't want your money stuck at Pratt. Have you thought about how you'll find him if he does go elsewhere? I don't think Project Runway will keep up with him after the show is over and I doubt they'd give you his information. Maybe it would be better to tell him what you're doing."
"There's a sweet boy in Heidi's office who's very accomodating," the old woman laughed. "I have a feeling it won't be any problem keeping tabs on Mr. Hummel if we need to. Besides, there can't be that many Hummels in Lima, Ohio. I'll call Heidi later and see if she'll get him started on his application."
"You look like you could use a hand," Amy said as Kurt came out of the workroom, carrying Nana's dress and all his tools. "Let me grab some of that for you."
Kurt smiled gratefully and handed her the garment bag. "It's not very heavy, but I don't want to wrinkle it any more than necessary."
"Don't worry," Amy replied. "I'll make sure it's steamed before we deliver it."
"So, how's Mark?" Kurt inquired, pressing the elevator call button. "Have you two done anything fun lately?"
"Oh, you know how it is. He's busy with school, and I've got work, but we're going out Friday and he's coming to Sunday dinner at my parents' house after Mass."
"Ooh, dinner with the parents. Sounds serious!" Kurt teased. "Valentine's Day is coming up. Do you see a ring in your not-so-distant future?"
"I don't think so. Maybe in a year or two ... or six," Amy laughed. "For now, I'm just glad to be in a relationship. Spending February 14th alone isn't any fun at all."
"Oh, I agree. I don't know what's worse - being surrounded by people with arms full of cheap candy, fake flowers and tacky stuffed animals, or having to pretend you wouldn't kill for one little silk rose."
"Exactly! It feels like you're the only person who's alone, and everyone else is just rubbing their happiness in your face. I'm sure I've been just as bad when I've had a boyfriend. What about you?"
Kurt shook his head. "I can't say I've ever had a date for Valentine's Day."
"I have a feeling this year will be different, though," Amy said playfully. "Am I right?"
"Maybe," Kurt replied archly, "and maybe not. I'll never tell." He shivered and used his free hand to pull the scarf higher on his neck. "I think it's colder now than it was last night."
Amy nodded. "I'm supposed to take Marisol shopping this afternoon. If it doesn't warm up, I think we'll get a cab. It's too cold to walk. You're welcome to join us."
"Where are you going?"
"Marisol wants some quilting stuff, but we can hit a few other places. Just let me know so I can get it approved."
"Speaking of approval, I need your help with something. Do you think you can get me in to see Heidi? I need to run something by her, but I don't want Blaine to know."
Amy's eyes danced with mischief. "Ooh! Secrets! Intrigue! Espionage! I like it. Hmm. It will be hard to sneak you past Blaine with his desk right there. Maybe it would be better if I could get Heidi to ask for you. Leave it to me."
Blaine sighed regretfully and closed his laptop. He wanted so much to sweep Kurt off his feet, but he was limited by the fact that apart from a little teasing, they hadn't discussed what Kurt was comfortable with everyone knowing. His original plan was to have a dozen roses waiting for Kurt when he got back from filming his exit scene, but that was sure to cause comment from the girls and anyone else who happened to be in the apartment. "I guess the best I can do today is take him out for lunch," he muttered, "unless you have a suggestion Bentley. No? Okay, lunch it is, assuming I can get Heidi to okay it."
"Hazel, I've spoken to Kurt," Heidi protested. "He doesn't blame you at all for what happened."
"That doesn't mean it wasn't my fault," Hazel replied tartly. "And whether it was or not, I'd still like to help him out."
"I'd like to help him, too," Heidi said with a sigh, "but there isn't much I can do. Establishing a scholarship is a lovely gesture. I'll make sure he gets started on his college applications and I'll let you know where he applies."
After she got off the phone, Heidi spent a few minutes researching deadlines and requirements before she stepped into the outer office. "Amy?" she questioned, clearly surprised at seeing the younger girl sitting at Blaine's desk.
"Hi, Heidi. Since Blaine isn't here, I said I'd hold down the fort while Sandy went to the ladies' room," Amy explained. "Do you have a minute?"
"If it can wait, I need to speak with Kurt first. Is he back from Parsons?"
"Yes, I just dropped him off at his apartment. He said something about changing clothes, but I'll bring him as quickly as I can."
"It's not an emergency," Heidi laughed. "You can wait until Sandy returns, and we might as well use the time. What did you need?"
Amy giggled and shook her head. "You've already taken care of it. I was going to tell you that Kurt has something he wants to ask you about."
Kurt knocked on Heidi's door, even though it was standing open. "You wanted to see me?"
Heidi smiled warmly. "Come in, Kurt, and have a seat. I wanted to ask about your plans for school next year, but I understand you have a question as well, so why don't you go first."
He glanced warily at the outer office. "I, uh, I don't want ..."
"Let me just close this door," Heidi interrupted. "Please, go on."
"Blaine has a birthday coming up, and I wondered if we could have a little celebration."
"Hmm," Heidi replied carefully. "I'm not sure he'd enjoy a party."
"Well, no," Kurt said, a faint blush coloring his cheeks. "I know he's turning 21 and he'd rather keep that to himself, so I was thinking maybe just the two of us ..." His voice trailed off uncertainly.
"Is this a date, Mr. Hummel?" Heidi demanded in her sternest voice, tapping her pen on the desk.
Kurt straightened his spine and looked her squarely in the eye. "Yes, it is," he stated firmly. "I would like to take Blaine out on a date for his birthday."
"Do you think you can manage to keep the publicity to a minimum? No YouTube this time?"
"Absolutely! There won't be any performing at all and we'll keep it very low key."
"What did you have in mind?"
"Just dinner. And a movie?" he added hopefully when he realized that there was the suggestion of a smile playing about Heidi's lips.
"Hmm." Heidi pretended to consider. "Just how badly do you want to go?"
"What do you mean?" Kurt asked nervously.
"Would you be willing to wear a disguise? Perhaps a plaid flannel shirt, a puffy vest, unstyled hair, and sweat pants?"
Kurt stared at her in disbelief. "You can't be serious. Please tell me you aren't serious," he begged. "That's not a disguise. That's a travesty, a crime against fashion. Besides," he pointed out, "if someone did recognize me, it would be a poor reflection on Project Runway."
"Oh, well, we can't have that," Heidi laughed. "Yes, you can take Blaine out on a date for his birthday. Tell Amy I said that she could help you plan and gather information."
"Thank you!" Kurt exclaimed, getting up to leave. "Oh, wait. Amy said you wanted to see me. Is it about Nana's outfit? I haven't finished it yet, but I'll get to work as soon as I get back to the apartment."
"Actually, I wanted to ask you about your plans for next year. Will you be studying fashion?"
"Absolutely," Kurt declared. "I've already discussed it with my dad, and we've agreed that I'll apply to some schools here. My first choice is Pratt because they offer a writing program along with the fashion design program."
Heidi nodded approvingly. "That sounds like a good fit for you. You've done very well with your blog. I don't know if you've realized it, but the application deadline for transfer students at Pratt is February 1st. If you want to attend next fall, you've got to get started on your application today."
"February 1st? That's Friday! That's two days from now! I'll need letters of recommendation and they probably want an essay and I'll have to get transcripts. I can't get all that done in two days!"
Heidi gently laid her hand on Kurt's arm. "Kurt, don't panic. The application is due by midnight on February 1st. Yes, they want an essay, but you're an excellent writer and the topic isn't difficult. They want a portfolio and your high school and college transcripts, but you can submit those a little later. Letters of recommendation are not required, but I'll write one for you if you'd like."
"You would write me a letter of recommendation? I don't know what to say," Kurt responded. "That's amazing."
Heidi waved her hand dismissively. "I'm happy to, Kurt. I believe in you and your talent. I think it would be best, though, if you put Hazel's dress aside until after you get your application finished. I'm sure she won't mind. Everything is online and you can use your laptop. If you need a hard copy, you can e-mail it to Amy and she'll bring it to you. If you'd prefer, you can work in the conference room down here. Now scoot! You have quite a bit of work to do."
Blaine didn't really expect to see Kurt when he reported to work a little after 11:00, but he couldn't help glancing around the lobby as he came in. He stopped by the coffee bar to thank Shelley for her help and pay his bill, and although he blushed and stammered a bit, he had to admit, if only to himself, that her gentle teasing felt good. It had been but a few weeks since they first met, but in some ways it felt as if he had been looking for Kurt forever and now that they had found each other, he wanted the world to know. That would have to wait until after he spoke to Heidi, however. Squaring his shoulders, he took a deep breath and knocked on her partially-open door.
"Good morning," she greeted him pleasantly. "How was your evening?"
He looked at her in surprise. "Wonderful," he sighed happily. The most wonderful evening of my entire life. Kurt's lips are amazing.
"I'm sure they are," Heidi remarked dryly, "but I don't imagine that's what you came in here to tell me."
"Oh, um," Blaine stammered, blushing furiously. "Did I say that aloud? No, it isn't. Well, it kind of is, just not quite the way I wanted to put it. Is it hot in here?"
"Not as hot as it must have been in the workroom last night," Heidi teased. "Now, let me guess - you want permission to spend time with Kurt. I'm very glad things have worked out for the two of you, but I don't want anyone finding out Kurt is off the show yet. He's a favorite with the fans and there will be an uproar when the episode airs."
Oh, well. We've waited this long. I guess we can wait two more weeks. "I understand," Blaine replied, turning toward the door.
"No, I don't think you do. I'm not saying you can't see each other. I'm saying that you need to be discrete. Don't attract attention and stay away from places where someone might recognize you."
Blaine smiled broadly. "We can do that. In fact, I was hoping that we could have lunch together, but I thought I'd pick something up and bring it back to the apartment. Marisol can join us if she wants."
"That's fine. You can visit him in the evenings when you aren't working, but if you want to leave the Atlas, you need to clear it with me first."
After Blaine returned to his desk, he tried to focus on his work but he found himself distracted more often than not, staring off into space as he imagined their life as a couple. Instead of facing an empty apartment every evening, he'd be coming home to the man he loved. Kurt would need to study, at least for the next few years, so Blaine would take care of most of the household chores, but he hoped they'd be able to do the grocery shopping together, at least. In the evenings, I'll play my guitar very softly, while he does his homework, and I'll know things are going well if he hums along.
Blaine was startled out of his thoughts by Amy's hand on his shoulder. "Earth to Blaine," she teased.
"Oh, sorry. Hi, Amy. What can I do for you?"
"I need two things. First, what is the name of that quilt store you took Marisol to and where is it?"
"The City Quilter, on W. 25th Street. Why?"
"Oh, that's right. I've seen that place. I'm taking Marisol to buy some fabric, and she said Mood didn't carry what she needed."
Blaine nodded. "So what's the other thing?"
"I've double-booked myself. I already promised to escort Marisol, but Heidi wants me to take care of the guy in the conference room. You know - make sure he has everything he needs, get him some lunch, that kind of stuff. I'm sure he won't be much trouble."
"Sure, I can do that. How long ago did you check in with him?"
"Thanks, Blaine," Amy said gratefully. "I owe you one. I don't know. It was probably about 30 minutes ago."
"Okay. I'll finish up this e-mail and go see what he wants for lunch." But he'd better not interfere with my lunch with Kurt.
I can't believe we're coming up on the third anniversary of this story. Thank you all for sticking with me.