Title: Mr. Butterfly
Spoilers: None (mention of Kurt's projects for the following year in season 3)
Word Count: 3 200 (Oneshot)
Disclaimer: I don't own Glee. Obviously.
Summary: Kisses, bow ties, French phrases and butterflies - or: the receipt for a nickname (sort of) takes years to prepare. (Futurefic!)
A/N: This is one of these fics born from something that you notice and that piles up with other things on its own and then pesters you until you do something about it. The result: pure unadulterated fluff. Prepare your toothbrushes to prevent it from rotting your teeth. (So no worries, the fic has nothing in common with Puccini's opera.)
There is another note at the end of the fic to explain the references :)
They're lying on Kurt's bed, both on their backs with their limbs entangled in that familiar way they've found to be as close to each other as possible without their arms or legs getting in the way or falling asleep. Their heads are tilted together on the same pillow and they blink drowsily at the ceiling while they listen to one of Kurt's playlists softly playing in the background.
The door is wide open, Finn in his room right down the hall, Burt and Carole downstairs, so it's not like anything else can happen. It's not like they feel the need for anything else to happen - summer presses warm and lazy all around them, and it's one of these quiet moments when they simply enjoy each other's presence and proximity, one of these comfortable, precious moments they know are becoming fewer and fewer. Kurt's leaving for New York in less than a month, and soon nothing will ever be the same. Soon they won't be a couple of teenagers discovering love under the watchful eye of Kurt's parents - they'll be young adults, they'll be apart for a year, and even after that, even if they're reunited (they will be) it won't be, it won't feel the same.
There won't be any more stolen moments up in Kurt's room with the summer sun streaming in through the window, trying to reach the bed but never quite managing to, leaving them in the cooler shadow to share their own warmth and young dreams.
They know they'll miss these moments later, they'll look back on them with that bittersweet fondness every happy memory evokes.
A song ends and after a couple of silent seconds another one begins. Blaine turns his head slightly towards Kurt, nose brushing against a cheek he feels curve into a smile.
"I can feel you eyelashes," Kurt whispers but then tilts his head away, his upper body following the movement and leaving Blaine bereft for a second. "Seriously," he goes on with mock exasperation as Blaine rolls to his side, almost pouting at the loss of contact. "They're that long," and Kurt reaches up with his hand. Blaine's eyes close on reflex and he feels Kurt's fingers hover near his eyelids, barely catching the lashes before they retreat. "It shouldn't be allowed."
Blaine blinks his eyes open once more, and lazily throws his free arm around his boyfriend's waist, tightening his hold at once to bring him closer. Kurt follows the movement with a contented sigh that ends up in a slight squeak when Blaine closes and opens his eyes once more, head now tilted with intent.
"'Tickles," he complains, turning his head away and squirming in Blaine's hold. Blaine doesn't let him go, only hums and runs his hand up and down Kurt's back in an appeasing gesture - then he flutters his eyelashes again.
"Shh," he murmurs, nuzzling Kurt's jawline, his throat, eyes closed but kept just close enough to Kurt's skin for him to feel the brush of his lashes. "I'm kissing you."
Kurt laughs softly, relaxes in his arms and lets him.
"Do you know how these are called in French?"
Blaine glances from the secretive smile tugging at the corner of Kurt's mouth to the bow tie resting at the base of his neck and which his boyfriend is currently straightening.
"... No?" he says, which is pretty much the answer he always gives.
And yet he tries, he really tries - ever since Kurt threw himself into perfecting his use of the language Blaine's attempted to follow him, agreeing to watch French movies (with subtitles), always listening attentively when Kurt reads him a poem in French and keeping his grammar and exercise books from high school on the lower shelf of his dorm room, promising himself he'll find the time to take a look at it soon. But there is so much to do with college and friends and the city life - and most of all with Kurt himself - that he never does. That, and Kurt's always been so much more advanced than him anyway - he breathes that language, strives in it, spurred by the use he'll make of it in the future.
The New York Academy of Dramatic Arts hasn't wanted him in the end - Kurt fell through at the last hurdle, probably for being too much instead of not enough. It's been a hard blow, but if there's something Kurt Hummel excels at it's taking it and turning it into renewed strength. He hadn't made the mistake of putting all his eggs in one basket and when Parsons offered him the opportunity NYADA had refused him, he sized his chance and jumped onto that train.
Kurt's realized since then that he loves being on stage when he wants to, when he needs to - not when he has to. He loves it because it's a personal experience, something intimate, a quality it might lose if done professionally. But fashion - Kurt's always enjoyed playing with it for himself as well as for others, and that's where the difference stands.
And anyone working in fashion, Kurt claims, should know his French perfectly.
"You should look it up sometime," he adds then, his fingers caressing the silky fabric of Blaine's bow tie then trailing down his chest. His smile widens and he tilts his head to the side in the hint of a gesture towards his desk where his French books and dictionaries stand in a neat row, easy to reach when he's studying.
(Blaine remembers the day Kurt received his unilingual French dictionary by mail, remembers how he opened the cardboard delivery package and hugged the heavy volume to his chest with an enamored sigh.
"Robert, my new friend," he sighed happily, squeezing the book closer to himself.
Blaine tried very hard not to pout warily at the treatment it was receiving and which should've been reserved for him. "I though it was the name of a Dread Pirate," he mumbled.
"You're confusing Robert and Roberts, Blaine," Kurt said, shaking his head. "They've got nothing in common. Although..."
Blaine guessed Kurt's train of thoughts even as his boyfriend's voice trailed off and pouted in earnest. "I'm not Buttercup," he protested.
"No you're not," Kurt smiled. "But close.")
Kurt's so attached to his beloved dictionaries Blaine never quite dares to touch them, so he doubts he'll get to use them to check what Kurt wants him to. Besides, he quite often has other things on his mind when he's in Kurt's dorm room, even more so when Kurt's roommate is away - which is the case today.
The suggestion is filed away among so many others - then forgotten.
Blaine sees Kurt's eyebrows twitch in faint surprise as he looks up at him, eyes dark in the faint glow of their bedside lamp. He ducks his head down and kisses him again, whispering against his lips.
"I want you to hold yourself entirely still. Can you do that?"
When he straightens up a bit he sees understanding on Kurt's face as a smile spreads slowly but surely on his lover's lips. Kurt nods, then tilts his head to the side and stretches underneath him, languorous and slow, hands thrown back on the mattress over his head, waiting. He closes his eyes and mewls quietly when Blaine brushes his lips underneath his jaw then trails kisses down his throat, his hands brushing along Kurt's arms, down his sides, then back up.
He slowly makes his way down Kurt's body, reverently kissing every inch of skin, all along feeling Kurt's soft, trusting gaze on him as Kurt lets him. He lingers at the base of Kurt's throat and around his navel, two spots on this familiar, beloved body he knows are particularly sensitive. He makes a detour by Kurt's left hip, lightly scraping his teeth against the protruding bone, nips at the junction to the leg. He runs a hand down Kurt's thigh, cupping the back of his knee with two fingers to encourage him to raise it as he straightens up.
He can feel Kurt getting slightly impatient, his breath deep and loud in the quiet of their bedroom, but he only presses a closed-mouth kiss on his kneecap before resting his cheek against it, meeting Kurt's eyes to smile at him. Kurt returns it, although the curve of his lips is a little bit strained with expectation, with the budding ache for release. Blaine holds his gaze as he kisses Kurt's knee once more, the top of it then its side, then higher, up Kurt's thigh, and up and up, and Blaine hears Kurt's breath catch in his throat when he pauses, curly, slightly rough hairs tickling the tip of his nose.
Blaine sees Kurt close his eyes and let out a slow, barely controlled breath, fingers stretching over his head like they're itching for something to claw at. A smile tugs at the corner of Blaine's mouth and he tilts his head just so, his own eyes closing right on time for his eyelashes to barely brush against-
Kurt jerks and yowls like an angry cat. Blaine can't help but burst out laughing.
"You tease!" Kurt hisses angrily, twisting against the sheets, but Blaine has reached up in time and is holding him down by the hips. He pushes himself up to press his face beside Kurt's navel, trying to muffle his laughter there. His left hand caresses up Kurt's side, trying to appease him, and Kurt squirms then settles back down with a frustrated sigh.
"Tease," he mutters once more, held down by nothing but Blaine's earlier request.
Blaine turns his head to rests his cheek on Kurt's warm skin, his hand trailing back down to Kurt's hip as he blinks once, twice.
"Shh," he whispers with a soft, mirthful tremor in his voice as Kurt whimpers. "I'm kissing you."
There is a young, successful French designer visiting the fashion house Kurt's interning at and which is a partner of the one the man works for in Europe. His name is Florent Something-Blaine-Never-Quite-Catches, his English is terrible and Kurt is over the moon at being in the same building as him.
Blaine is not jealous.
He's not, it's just - Kurt seems to never stop talking about that guy, his whole face alive with excitement and awe and Dear Gaga, Blaine, he told Margret to congratulate me on the design they decided to integrate into the Fall collection. And Blaine...
Well, Blaine is no hotshot designer born and raised in Paris. He's no expert in fashion - these days he mostly nods along to what Kurt's says about it because his boyfriend has quite naturally become his reference on the subject. His work at a law firm, specializing in LGBT rights, might be engrossing and concern something essential to him, but even that sounds boring in comparison. His French is still so rusty most of his sentences break before they're entirely formulated. He doesn't even manage to pronounce the man's first name correctly - he tries, but the last syllable remains stuck in his nose every single time.
A stupid nasal vowel for a stupid name.
But he's not jealous. He's just - unsettled.
It doesn't help that the first thing Kurt does nowadays upon coming home is to make a beeline for his dictionaries to check the words he caught during the day and isn't sure he understood instead of joining Blaine on the couch. His sentences are now interspersed with more French than ever. Blaine understands most of it - his listening comprehension is far better than his own speaking abilities - but sometimes... Sometimes he doesn't.
"Minute, papillon," Kurt says, stopping him on his way to the door by crooking a finger down his shirt collar. Blaine pauses obediently, turns around and Kurt begins to fuss over his bow tie.
Blaine's taken up to let it slightly askew on purpose some days, knowing Kurt'll notice and soon give in to the urge of making it right - but today he has to admit he hadn't noticed he'd done it wrong. He's a bit distracted. Preoccupied.
"What was that?" he asks while Kurt rolls his eyes at his poor work and undoes the tie entirely to knot it back up properly.
Kurt briefly raises his eyebrows in question, then understands what Blaine means. "Oh, nothing," he murmurs, all his attention riveted to his fingers as they loop, cross, tie and tug the slip of fabric around Blaine's neck. "Just a set phrase. I guess I just picked it up from Florent."
Blaine feels his lips press themselves together but schools his expression at once when Kurt straightens up with a smile and takes a step back, fingers smoothing the now perfectly done bow tie. "There, all better," he says, then leans forward to press a kiss to Blaine's lips. "You're good to go now."
Instead of going Blaine returns Kurt's kiss with one of his own, trying to make it tender and yearning, trying to make it last - until Kurt literally shoos him away, eyes bright and cheeks flushed, with a promise to be home early for a long, long evening just to themselves.
They're familiar with a series of bars interspersed all over their neighborhood and beyond that call on them from time to time when they have an entertainment night. Sometimes they ask only for Blaine, sometimes only for Kurt, but mostly they ask for the both of them because their duets keep getting better and they don't even ask for a double pay. It's something they do for fun before anything else - and Blaine never gets tired of singing love songs with or for his boyfriend in front of a pleased crowd.
It's so different from when they were in Ohio.
The way they perform, however, isn't. Most of the time Kurt stays standing in the middle - he's always been a physically quiet sort of singer when he doesn't need to go all out to impress a jury or an audience. He pours everything in the lyrics and that alone is enough, requires all his attention and strength. Blaine on the other hand... Blaine rarely keeps still, can't stay still, he has to move with the lyrics, along them, he flits around the stage, around Kurt - Kurt who's always at the center of his circle, the focal point at whose side he knows he'll safely land back once the song is over.
Florent of the French fashion house leaves - but the foreign words, the foreign phrases do not.
These two words though, that Blaine's noticed and that roll off Kurt's tongue with a nimble ease, they come up the most often, as if jumping past Kurt's lips before he even has the time to think them. He catches himself sometimes, and the small, almost timid glance he throws at Blaine then makes a happy thrill run down Blaine's spine every single time without him knowing why.
Kurt uses the expression so often, actually, that Blaine feels tempted to look it up in the dictionary - which he's still hesitant to touch even after all this time. Only he realizes that he already knows what Kurt means when he uses it, every single time.
"Minute, papillon," he whispers, and with it he says-
Wait a minute, when Blaine's almost bouncing on his toes, impatient to leave their flat for the evening they have planned, and almost forgets all these small but necessary things - his keys, his wallet, his gloves, a last glance at the mirror to check if his hair's still in place.
Slow down, when Blaine almost trips over himself and his words, trying to convey everything he wants to say in the smallest span of time possible because he wants, needs Kurt to know everything, to understand right now.
Be patient, when Blaine tries to growl, tries to reverse their position, tries to make something happen but can't because Kurt's decided that tonight would be agonizingly, deliciously slow.
Don't be rash, when Blaine comes home frustrated and almost flies into an aimless rage against a client or another lawyer or the world in general for being so bad at being tolerant, so slow with change, so unfair against far too many things.
Stop, when Blaine's had a bad day, when he's tired, when he's had another non-conversation with his parents - when Kurt notices his morose mood early enough for that small, simple, light phrase to be all Blaine needs to avoid slipping down that ever present slope and into his dark thoughts.
Kurt can say so many things with just two words.
Yet only the first one holds all these meanings, actually - which is why Blaine ends up opening Kurt's dictionary anyway, one day when Kurt's distracted, humming as he waters his numerous orchids at the kitchen sink. Blaine looks for an explanation for the second word, the one Kurt always revels more in pronouncing, he's noticed.
But even Robert is unable to give him his answer.
Blaine doesn't consciously notice that that second word has begun seeping into other contexts until it's pointed out by someone else.
"Come on, papillon," Kurt says, pushing his chair back from the dining table. "Dishes."
Blaine rolls his eyes good-naturedly and stands up too. He carefully takes off his engagement ring and slips it into the front pocket of his shirt so that it doesn't get dirty or lost in the dishwater - he does it so carefully that he almost doesn't notice Burt raising his eyebrows with that deadpan expression of his.
"That another one of your French stuff?" he asks and Kurt turns back towards him. "Figure you'd call each other fancy names too."
Kurt looks at Blaine, then reaches out to brush his fingers against his fiancé's bow tie, a smile curving his lips.
"Not that fancy," he whispers, glancing down at the bow tie then back up at Blaine's eyes, a knowing spark dancing in his eyes. And Blaine realizes that there's something there, something Kurt thinks they're sharing but that he, Blaine, doesn't get. Fortunately Kurt turns away before he can notice Blaine's confusion.
Blaine tugs nervously at the silken fabric looped at the base of his neck, tightening the knot - and remembers a question from years ago he never bothered to find the answer to.
He goes looking for it once the dishes are cleaned and put away, silently blessing WiFi-equipped phones and online translators.
What he finds makes him smile.
He finds Kurt sitting in a chair on the back porch, sketchbook closed on his lap as he basks in the fading warmth and light of the late afternoon drawing towards evening. Blaine steps up behind him then bends forward to slip his arms around him. He buries his head in the crooks of Kurt's neck, eyelashes fluttering against the skin of Kurt's throat and jaw.
"Blaine," Kurt protests, but he doesn't move away. "It tickles."
"Shh," Blaine replies softly, tightening his hold, feeling in love and happy happy happy. "I'm kissing you."
Kurt laughs, tilting his head to the side in invitation.
In the garden in front of them butterflies flit from flower to flower, wings gleaming yellow and white in the evening sun.
A/N the Second:
- So. A little bit of French: "butterfly" is "papillon" - and "a bow tie" is "un noeud papillon" (a 'butterfly knot' - because, well. It's butterfly-shaped, right?).
- 'Robert' is the name of the reference French dictionary, thus named after its first publisher. You can find the 'small' version (Le Petit Robert) in one volume and the 'big' version (Le Grand Robert) in several.
- "Minute, papillon" is an actual set phrase. "Minute" alone stands as short for 'wait a minute' (attends une minute). "Papillon" appeared as an addition to it at the beginning of the 20th century although there is no set explanation for it - it'd refer to the way a butterfly flits this way and that or to an urban legend involving the crew of a satirical newspaper, a coffee shop and a hurried waiter.