"God, this place is green."
"But it is!"
"Blaine, you've commented on the greenness at least fifty times since we crossed the border—"
"I have not."
"—using every word for 'green' from emerald to Kermit."
"Well, it's true," Blaine insisted. "Not even the wooded spots in Ohio were this green."
Kurt rolled his eyes with a smile. "Try not to get too excited," he said, leaning over to plant a kiss on Blaine's cheek.
"Don't distract the driver," Blaine grinned, keeping his eyes on the road ahead. Lush green vegetation – oak, pine, maple, a thick carpet of ferns – hugged the road on both sides, the overhanging branches making the midday summer sun flicker against the windshield of the Jeep.
Kurt sat back in his seat. "So, are we stopping for lunch?" he asked, glancing at the road map. "We should hit Montgomery in a little while."
"Absolutely," Blaine agreed. "I'm starving and I want a gigantic slice of homemade apple pie."
Kurt snorted. "When I suggested Vermont as a vacation spot I didn't think you'd be geeking out over every little rustic detail," he observed bemusedly.
"Hey, those 'rustic details' are exactly what's making this a vacation," Blaine countered.
Kurt laughed and leaned his head back, watching the woods whiz past. Blaine was right – this was the greenest place they'd ever seen. Of course, neither of them had been to many other places besides Ohio and New York City, but still.
Fiddling with the tiny box hidden away inside his sweatshirt pocket, Kurt's heart lurched in anticipation of the weekend. He and Blaine had been together since high school – almost ten years at this point – and Kurt figured that was enough evidence to prove their relationship wasn't just a lingering teenage infatuation. He and Blaine had talked about getting married, of course – after all it was legal now – and he was reasonably sure that Blaine would say yes, but that didn't make Kurt any less anxious. He wanted it to be perfect. It had to be perfect.
They stopped for lunch in Montgomery, which wasn't much more than a main street, pulling into the parking lot of what seemed to be the only restaurant in town. Kurt glanced at the tourist brochure, surprised to see that Montgomery was actually mentioned. "Hard to believe there's two thousand people in this town," he remarked, glancing at the population statistics.
"Must be really spread out," Blaine agreed, climbing out of the car. Kurt shoved the map and guides onto the dashboard, jumping down from the Jeep as Blaine locked the doors.
Inside the diner, there were only a few people scattered around the booths, mostly with a distinct lumberjack-esque appearance. There was one waitress making her rounds and filling coffee cups, and she smiled brightly at them.
"You boys can seat yourselves," she told them sweetly as she went behind the counter to return the coffee pot to its hot plate.
They took a small table by the window and the waitress came over to give them their menus. "You tourists?" she asked.
Blaine smiled while Kurt scanned the food options (not a lot of vegetarian meals, he noticed dryly). "Yeah, we're up from New York."
"Oh, wow. This must be a little different than what you're used to," the waitress chuckled. Her nametag read CAROLE and flashed a little in the sunlight through the window. "Are you staying at the inn?" She gestured to the small bed-and-breakfast across the street.
"Actually, we're camping," Blaine explained. "Out by Pike's Falls."
Carole's eyebrows shot up. "Well, so long as you're careful," she said. "The woods around here aren't always friendly to strangers. Can I get you some coffee?"
"Decaf, please," Kurt smiled, and Carole headed back for the counter.
"I like this place," Blaine said, looking out the window at the sparsely populated street. A woman and her baby were sitting on the grassy area across the road, and a couple more people were walking the sidewalks. A group of teenagers on BMX bikes rode past, laughing.
"You like every place we go to," Kurt remarked, still perusing the meal choices.
"That's not true," Blaine countered. "I hated Alphabet City."
"That doesn't count – we were there for work, and it was only for a couple of hours."
"No, you were there for work," Blaine retorted with a grin. "I just tagged along because I was promised a date but you had an emergency case."
Kurt shrugged. "What can I say? The firm thinks I'm indispensable."
"That's 'cause you are." Blaine winked.
"Save that for the tent."
Pike's Falls was off the beaten track, to say the least. They drove for twenty minutes outside Montgomery before they reached the turnoff point, and the 'road' they turned onto was little more than a hiking trail. The Jeep jostled and bumped and bucked as Blaine navigated through the trees for two and a half miles, finally coming to a stop on the ridge of a small hill where the 'road' seemed to vanish.
"Are we here?" Kurt asked, frowning at the map. "I can't tell if they've just neglected to maintain the trail or if we're supposed to be on foot from here."
The idea of hiking through a forest didn't bother him now as much as it would have ten years ago – he'd brought sturdy hiking shoes and left his extensive collection of high-end fashion at home. He'd packed only the clothes he normally used for lazy weekends at home or going to the gym – plain t-shirts, sweatpants, shorts, anything built for comfort rather than fashion. They were in the middle of nowhere; Kurt had no reason to be dressed up.
"I'll look around," Blaine said, hopping out of the Jeep and leaving Kurt to study the map.
Blaine disappeared over the lip of the hill into the vegetation, reappearing only a few seconds later and yanking Kurt's door open. "Kurt! We're here! Come on!"
Kurt tossed the map onto the driver's seat and followed Blaine, his breath leaving his lungs in a whoosh as the vegetation opened up only fifteen feet beyond the car, revealing a wide pond, accented by a series of small-ish waterfalls coming down the slope to their left and the towering oaks lining the pond's edge. A stream spilled over the far edge of the pond, running downhill. The water in the pond was lacking of any disgusting-looking algae and instead was crystal clear – clearly very deep in the center and about fifty yards from side to side. Kurt was tempted to call it a lake.
"Oh…" he sighed. "It's perfect."
Blaine grinned and hugged Kurt around the shoulders. "Come on, let's get the gear out of the car."
Blaine set up the tent while Kurt organized everything they'd brought with them – the cooler full of food, the wide sleeping bag meant for two, the small backpacks of clothes, various other small necessities.
"I saw a pay shower in town," Blaine said as he clicked the tent poles together. "We won't have to stink on the way back after all."
"Oh, trust me, I was going to bathe in the pond if necessary," Kurt retorted. "And I'd shove you in, too. No way I'm going to endure your rustic body odor for the entire drive back to New York."
Blaine snorted, hammering a peg into the ground. A dog barked in the distance, and Kurt looked up. The sound had been distorted through the trees and he couldn't tell which direction it had come from.
"Are we really that close to town?" he asked.
"I heard a dog barking."
Blaine shrugged, pulling the rain cover over the tent. "I didn't hear anything," he said. "But maybe it just got loose. Or someone's out hunting."
"It's not deer season – I checked."
Blaine grinned wolfishly at him. "You only looked it up to make sure we wouldn't have to wear orange."
"I don't care if it's to stop us from getting shot. I will not wear orange."
"I'm going to get you a blindingly orange jacket for your next birthday," Blaine said, coming over to sit on the ground next to where Kurt was working. "And then you'll be forced to wear it in public just to make your perfect boyfriend happy."
"And they will never find your body," Kurt replied smoothly.
Blaine laughed and brushed the dirt off his knees. "Come on," he said, yanking off his shirt and shorts. "I've always wanted to skinny-dip under a waterfall."
As they swam and splashed and dunked each other below the surface, the sounds of the waterfall made it impossible to hear the dog barking.