Dedicated to: Yelah Ausgrhatin, my muse and platonic soulmate.

Chapter 1: The Fashion Show

"I can't believe you guys are making me come with you," Blaine grumbled, just loud enough for Wes and David to hear him over the din of the subway. "This is like borrowing a toddler to go see a kid's movie at the theater."

"Except way better, because we're borrowing a gay man to go see a fashion show full of really hot girls!" Wes beamed excitedly.

"And boys," David added for Blaine's benefit.

He rolled his eyes. "You know, shockingly, being gay doesn't automatically make me interested in fashion. Or in spending my evenings watching artificial sticks prance down a runway in clothing that no normal person would ever actually buy or wear."

"Oh come on, you've got an entire shelf crammed with fashion magazines at home," Wes accused.

"That's different," he mumbled.

"Lighten up, man," David chided, flinging an arm around his shoulder as they reached their stop and exited the train. "Jessica's scored us backstage passes after the show! We're gonna get to meet the models. Try not to be such a sour puss about it. You might just end up having fun."

Blaine sighed, but held his tongue. He knew further argument would be futile. It's just one night, he reasoned with himself, shrugging off David's arm as they walked up the stairs onto the busy sidewalk. I've been working myself to the bone lately. I deserve a break. It's just a silly fashion show…

He quickly realized that it was not just a silly fashion show.

When they arrived, the crowds were already gathering, jostling to get good seats, chatting loudly with one another. There were cameras everywhere. The runway was a raised platform set out in the middle of the street, with rows of fold-out chairs set up to face it from all three sides. An enormous tent hid the backstage area from view. The three seats reserved for them – courtesy of David's sister, Jessica – were at an ideal angle near the end of the stage.

"I'm going to go find Jessica and thank her again," David announced.

"I'll go with," Wes volunteered. Blaine knew he just wanted an excuse to check out the models backstage before the show began.

"I think I'll stay." He crossed his arms and slouched a little in his chair, making sure they knew he was still grumpy about being dragged along. They departed for the tent, weaving through the tightly-packed crowds and ducking under large cameras. Blaine took a deep breath and tried to relax.

"Twenty bucks says you're not here voluntarily."

He jumped and turned to the voice that had come from behind him. A tall young man stood there in a knee-length black overcoat and a furry hat, smiling down at him and clearly amused. Blaine couldn't help but notice that he had a beautiful smile.

"Guess I owe you twenty bucks, then," he joked. "My friends made me come."

"I'm assuming this isn't really your thing?" The stranger slipped gracefully into David's unoccupied seat next to him. It was impossible for Blaine to miss how the red jeans clung to the man's skin as he crossed his legs and folded his hands neatly in his lap. Blaine sat up straighter, suddenly very conscious of his posture.

"No, not really," he confessed. "This is my first time at a real fashion show. Runways have never really interested me…" He met the taller man's gaze. He had stunning eyes – blue at first, but upon closer inspection Blaine could make out the gray and green and gold. They seemed to ask for further explanation. "I mean, don't get me wrong, I read Vogue religiously, but there's something totally different about fashion in magazines and fashion on a stage…Like, the whole strutting thing, y'know? There's just something so vain about it."

The man stared at him for a moment, clearly taken aback. But then he laughed. It was a nice sound. Light. Unrestrained. "My god, I'm afraid you're not going to enjoy the show very much, then."

"I mean, I don't want to sound ungrateful," he quickly added. "My friend's sister had to pull a lot of strings to get us these seats. But it's just– To me, runways always make it seem like appearance is more important than anything else, like you can only make it in this world if you're drop-dead gorgeous. Which, of course, isn't true!"

Mr. Pretty Eyes nodded thoughtfully. "But the models in Vogue are different?"

"Well, yeah, in a way. The purpose is retail; they're photographed in those outfits in order to get that clothing sold. From what I can tell, runways are just a place to show off the models' amazing size-zero bodies and the outfits that only the rich and famous would ever even consider wearing."

"But how else would the designers be able to show off their collections?"

Blaine shrugged. "A photoshoot, I suppose."

Sir Dreamy Smile raised an eyebrow. "So basically you're saying that modeling is fine as long as it's through a camera?" It was not accusatory; simply observant. "Interesting…"

"Kurt! There you are!"

A lean Asian man in a suit came bustling up to them, completely ignoring Blaine as he latched onto the taller man's arm. "I've been looking for you everywhere! You've got to start getting ready."

The man apparently named Kurt stood up with a dramatic sigh. "Keep your pants on, Mike, I'm coming." But he turned back to Blaine and stuck out a hand. "It was nice to meet you…"

"Blaine," he filled in, taking the proffered hand and shaking it. "Blaine Anderson."

Kurt flashed him a stunning smile. "Well, it was lovely chatting with you, Blaine Anderson. I hope you aren't too bored by the show. I'll do my best not to strut too much."

And then it finally clicked.

Blaine's jaw fell into his lap, but luckily Mike was already hurrying Kurt away towards the tent so nobody saw the idiotic look on his face. Oh my god. Oh my god, I'm such an idiot! He couldn't believe that he hadn't recognized him, hadn't realized who he was talking to. But in his defense, he never expected Kurt freaking Hummel to ever start a conversation with him. Now he'd made a complete ass out of himself, going on and on about how vain and materialistic runways were, not realizing that the man he was talking to was probably the most well-known male model in the world.

"Dude, Blaine, you okay?"

He shook himself, tried to compose his features into something remotely held together. "I– Yes, David. I'm fine."

His friends slid into their seats, studying him worriedly. "You sure?" Wes pressed.

"Yes," he lied. "Fine. Did– uh, did you guys find Jessica?"

David nodded. "She was really busy, though. But we got a glimpse into the tent, and it was…Wow."

"This is gonna be awesome," Wes breathed, as if they were settling down to watch a Broadway production instead of an outdoor fashion show. "And when we were coming back I heard a couple people say that Kurt Hummel's gonna be in it! Man, that'll be incredible. I'm not even gay and I still think he's attractive!"

"I heard he's really nice, too," David put in, bobbing his head in agreement. "I've seen a couple interviews with him – he's always talking with fans and stuff. Probably all an act, though."

Blaine said nothing. He sat frozen in his chair, arms folded tightly, focusing on his breathing and desperately trying to stay calm. It was proving impossible. He wished he could just melt into the ground and evaporate.

A man appeared onstage and requested that everyone find their seats; the show would begin momentarily. Blaine tuned him out, doing his best to hide his embarrassment from his friends. He knew if they suspected anything they would badger him until he confessed. And he was not about to tell them that he'd basically just told a world-famous supermodel that runways were pointless.

He straightened up a little when the show began. Models – both male and female – emerged from the back and glided to the end of the runway before pausing to pose for the cameras. They were all tall and painfully thin and dead serious. Still, he was able to appreciate the creativity of Thomas Handson, the featured designer of the night; Blaine'd been a fan of his work ever since he did that tuxedo special last autumn. The gowns the girls wore were bright and intricate and eye-catching, while the men looked exceptionally suave. The theme seemed to be 'a nice night out.' Fancy, but nothing too over-the-top.

And then Kurt emerged, and the audience stirred excitedly.

Oh. Okay. So this is what everybody keeps talking about…

He was positively breathtaking. He strode down the runway with the utmost confidence, swiveling his hips with each step in a way that should not have been legal. All eyes were on him. The cashmere sweater he was modeling clung to his skin like paint, the wide neck exposing a delectable amount of skin. Normally horizontal stripes made people look wider, but on him it was nothing but flattering. Every other stripe was black, the others translucent, teasing the audience with pale beige strips of skin all down his torso and arms. The black zipper-covered skinny jeans were just as tantalizingly tight. The look was finished off with polished light brown heeled boots and a transparent black scarf that fluttered behind him like wings.

But it was more than just the outfit that caught everyone's attention and held them. His entire appearance was different. He was tall like the other models, it was true, but his features were softer, not as severe, a youthful spark in his face that made it seem like he was the only one up there actually enjoying himself. And that playful glint in his eyes was not something that could be captured in a photograph.

Blaine finally understood why runways were so important.

The cameras went mad. It was obvious Kurt was the highlight of the show. Blaine suspected that he was the highlight of any show he participated in. He clearly knew it, too, because there was a small smirk on his face as he reached the end of the runway and posed, illuminated by the stage lights and the thousands of camera flashes. Blaine had half a mind to snap a quick shot with his cell phone as well, but he was too numb to move.

"Damn," David muttered over the cheering. "He's like a god or something! He must have girls worshipping the ground he walks on wherever he goes."

Blaine didn't respond. His vocal chords were in knots, his eyes fixated on the stunning young man above him.

And then Kurt's eyes flickered over to him, and his breath caught. He could have sworn Kurt gave a tiny wink before turning and heading back down the runway. The girl after him emerged and began to make her way to the end, a long silk train attached to the back of the light green dress she wore. It was beautiful, but Blaine hardly even noticed. He was still watching Kurt's retreating back.

He did notice her, however, when she stumbled and fell to her knees.

There was a collective gasp of sympathy from the audience. They expected her to pick herself up and carry on, pretend it didn't happen, try not to blush too deeply until she was backstage again. But then Kurt stopped, turned back, and helped her to her feet.

Everyone watched intently – the cameras having a field day, the reporters babbling furiously into their microphones – as Kurt fiddled with something at the back of her dress. In less than five seconds, he'd managed to detach the train from it, and instead pinned it into her hair using one of the hairclips already there. It was now a veil. And more importantly, it no longer dragged on the floor and tangled with her heels.

Kurt muttered something in her ear, flashed the audience another winning smile, and continued on as if nothing had happened.

It was official. Blaine loved fashion shows.