A/N: Welcome to the first Glee Klaine fic that I actually intend on finishing! I already have the final chapter planned out, seriously. All I have to do is write the middle bit. AU fashion buyer!Kurt and flight attendant!Blaine. Enjoy!
New York JFK airport during peak times was like being in the herd of cows destined for the midday milking at a dairy farm in Alabama or some other Southern state.
Hot, crowded, and smelly.
Despite his impeccable timing, cautious foresight and early departure from his Manhattan apartment, Kurt Hummel could not have predicted the collision between two taxi cabs at a junction coming off the Manhattan bridge that had caused him to be exactly forty-two minutes late for his 4:22pm flight to Paris.
He was scheduled to be staying in the French capital for a week hoping to buy from the top designers to be shipped back to the US for American Vogue, a magazine he had been working at for nearly three years now. In those mere three years, he had been promoted from simple office assistant to fashion buyer and finally head of retail and buying. He took his work very seriously.
Fanning himself ridiculously with his passport, he filed in at the back of an impossibly long queue for check-in and surveyed with distaste the environment around him. Even in September, it was stuffy and warm and he felt himself becoming sticky with sweat under his lavender shirt, hand-picked to impress the French representative of Vogue who would be meeting him on his arrival in Paris to take him to his hotel, paid for of course by his boss.
The overhead lights were too bright, the floor too shiny, the ceiling too white and sterile. The air was filled with the noise of creaky suitcase wheels, couples arguing about who had the passports, children shrieking in protest at having to stand in a queue.
This is exactly why I should have asked for an earlier flight, Kurt thought derisively to himself, turning his nose up at a toddler who had had enough of being forced to hold his tired-looking father's hand and had decided to rebel, stamping his booted feet on the ground with his face screwed up. The strap of his rather heavy bag was cutting into his shoulder and his hand was sweating where it gripped the handle of his suitcase.
Eventually the queue shuffled forward and Kurt had to move quickly to avoid having his feet run over by a heavy-handed woman with the most enormous suitcase Kurt had ever seen. Hadn't she ever heard of travelling light? Seconds later, the same woman knocked over the suitcase and let out a cry as it landed on her feet.
Kurt tutted under his breath and turned his attention to the front of the queue, painfully aware that beads of sweat were forming across his forehead. None of you have to go to the most important fashion hub in the world where your decisions will determine the future of the magazine you work for and your career itself, he thought, so move before I run you over with this case!
Kurt rolled his eyes in exasperation as a large group of giggling young girls – yes, they were girls and not women – made their way to the counter, jostling each other in order to be the first to present their passports and luggage. One was wearing a bright yellow straw hat which clashed completely with her carrot-coloured hair, and he cringed inwardly.
Finally, he was at the front of the queue. He slapped his passport and flight ticket onto the counter in front of a fat man with a permanent scowl, who motioned with a grunt for him to put his suitcase on the conveyor belt. Would it kill these people to have some manners? He drummed his fingernails on the counter as the man processed his details on the computer. He typed a few words and pressed a button, all the while keeping the scowl on his face. A machine next to him whirred and a receipt was produced, which he ripped off and thrust in Kurt's direction.
"Aisle seven, seat C." he grunted. Right at the front of the plane. Exactly where he didn't want to be. "We ain't got anything else left."
"Thank you." Kurt replied, out of politeness only, although the man didn't deserve it. He tucked the receipt with his seat into his pocket, adjusted the strap of his bag and made his way across the enormous space to the Departures screen.
He swore under his breath as he realised he only had fifteen minutes before his flight started boarding.
He was going to have to run if he wanted to make it on time, and just to be absolutely clear, Kurt Hummel did not run. Ever. Running made you hot and sweaty and your clothes stuck to your skin in that horrible damp way, not to mention it would ruin the fabric of his shirt. But he didn't have a choice.
Pushing through the crowd of people on the escalator, muttering "Excuse me, excuse me, sorry, excuse me" over and over like a mantra, he broke into a jog as he reached the top and searched the overheard signs for Boarding Gate 51. Ten minutes.
Left, straight ahead, right and then left again. He managed to bump into some little old dear with a cane, mumbled "Excuse me" again, and then collided with a woman in a wheelchair, who swore loudly and threatened viciously to crush his toes if he didn't "get the hell out of my way".
Five minutes to spare. He quickly joined the end of the boarding queue, passport, ticket and seat receipt at the ready, letting out a breath of relief. But his good mood with which he'd left his apartment earlier that day was tarnished. All he wanted to do was sit down, relax, and enjoy his flight. He would arrive in Paris in the early hours of the following morning and his first scheduled meeting with the designers would commence at 8am, leaving him only five hours of sleep. But he was used to the long haul and sleep deprivation that came with travelling, and it seemed that lack of sleep boosted his productivity and motivation to get the job done properly.
He decided he would get a coffee as soon as the drinks cart came round.
He was passed through and he walked along the draughty metal tunnel that would take him to the plane, walking a little faster in order to get to his seat as quickly as possible. He didn't want to be stuck behind some family with kids trudging along like snails, or worse, an elderly couple with Zimmer frames. Once he'd shown his flight ticket to the attendant at the door of the plane, he identified aisle seven, seat C and, self-conscious of the dark sweat stains developing under his arms, he pushed his bag into the overhead compartment and sat down.
Finally, time to relax. He might as well enjoy the flight. Buckling his regulation seatbelt securely, he leaned back in his chair and stretched out his long legs as much as he could in the small space. He would have secured a seat with extra legroom had he not been late and ended up stuck with the shabby front seats, but it was too late to complain about that now. He let his eyes drift closed as he heard the soft whirr of the plane doors sliding shut, and the footsteps of the flight attendants as they moved about the front cabin.
"Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. I would like to welcome you aboard this 4:22pm flight to Paris and we shall departing shortly, aiming to arrive at our destination at around 4:16am local time. The duration of the flight is estimated to be at seven hours and fifty three minutes with a decent tailwind to propel us forward as we cross the Atlantic."
"Mesdames et Messieurs, ceci est votre commandant de bord. Je tiens à vous souhaiter la bienvenue à bord de ce vol 4:22 pm à Paris et nous allons au départ peu de temps, dans le but d'arriver à notre destination aux alentours de 4:16 am, heure locale. La durée du vol est estimé à moins de sept heures et cinquante trois minutes avec un vent arrière décent pour nous propulser vers l'avant alors que nous traversons l'Atlantique."
Around two hours later, Kurt was awoken by the sound of a cart rumbling past the aisle and a cacophony of voices as his fellow passengers bought drinks and snacks from the flight attendants. Disgruntled, he stirred in his seat and cracked one eye open, the whiff of coffee reaching his nostrils. A grande nonfat mocha would suffice.
He was greeted by a view of a very, very nice ass. An ass that belonged to a man who was currently handing over the change for several bags of candy to a family in the row of seats across from Kurt.
Kurt had never had much luck with men. Those he called his colleagues were boring, executive types and those he had gone to high school with were either all brawn and no brains or all brains and no brawn, and anyone who knew anything about attraction knew that you had to have a good combination of both to actually be physically drawn to a person. The closest he'd ever got to any kind of relationship was a painfully embarrassing crush during sophomore year on the boy who would later become his step brother.
So his eyes were drawn to this man with piqued interest despite all his efforts to remain professional and businesslike. Just because he was on this flight for his job and not a holiday, it didn't mean he couldn't enjoy himself. Contrary to popular belief – of his father, his stepmother, and most of his colleagues – he wasn't all work and no play.
Although he did try his very best to remain at the 'work' end of the spectrum at all times.
The main straightened up and Kurt noticed that he had dark, tightly curly hair that became slightly frizzy towards the nape of his neck. His hands, where they gripped the side of the cart, where strong and tanned.
Maybe he was a little interested. But he had yet to see the front of him and for all he knew, he could have a lazy eye or yellow teeth or some other kind of unattractive feature. And anyway, none of this even mattered because there was a less than 1% chance that the man was even gay.
So he shook his head to clear his thoughts and reached into his wallet – the finest Italian leather, of course – for a handful of dollar bills to pay for his coffee.
"Grande nonfat mocha, no cream." He held out the fan of bills in his hand. "Please." he added as an afterthought, just in case the man might think he was being rude. He didn't look up as the money was taken from him and his coffee poured from a small industrial machine atop the cart which emitted little puffs of steam into the already stuffy air of the plane. A brown hand deposited the cup onto the plastic tray table in front of him.
"Is there anything else you need? You look a little tense." A pause, in which his change was dropped onto the table. "Rough day?"
Kurt looked up in surprise and forgot his words as he was met with a pair of bright hazel eyes in a clean-shaven, tanned face. He looked around Kurt's age, maybe a little younger, with impressive cheekbones and a wide, very white smile. No yellow teeth, then.
He was actually rather good-looking.
Well, if that wasn't unexpected I don't know what is. Nobody had ever asked him on a flight before if he'd had a rough day. It was new. He wasn't sure how to take it.
"A busy day." he replied. "Work demands."
"Oh, where do you work?" Kurt was taken slightly aback by the man's genuine interest in his life and his brows knotted together in confusion. After a few moments, he decided to hell with it – he had five hours to kill and nothing else to do. He might as well make a friend.
"American Vogue. I'm head of retail and fashion buying in New York.."
The man's thick eyebrows rose. Was he impressed? "So that's why you're heading to Paris?"
"That would be correct. I'm meeting some very important designers for the first fall issue." I hope that didn't sound pretentious, he thought, inwardly cursing himself for sounding pompous.
"I hope it goes well, then. But you might need an umbrella – Paris gets pretty wet this time of year."
"I think I'll manage." Kurt said, with confidence. A little bit of rain was the last thing on his mind.
"Famous last words!" warned the man with a laugh,a warm, hearty laugh, before grabbing the cart with both hands and dragging it back down the aisle, rumbling and clattering as it went. Kurt's view of his ass returned and he found himself scrutinising with an embarrassing obviousness that he didn't even realise.
His name tag identified him as Blaine. Just Blaine.
An hour or so later, another announcement came over the plane's PA system.
"Ladies and gentlemen, we seem to have encountered some turbulence so I must ask you to ensure that your seatbelt is securely fastened as the captain has turned on the seatbelt signs, so for your own safety please ensure that your seatbelt is fastened and that you remain in your seat."
"Mesdames et messieurs, il semble que nous avons rencontré quelques turbulences alors je dois vous demander de veiller à ce que votre ceinture de sécurité est solidement fixé en tant que capitaine a porté sur les signes de ceintures de sécurité, donc pour votre propre sécurité s'il vous plaît vous assurer que votre ceinture de sécurité est fixé et que vous rester dans votre siège. "
Turbulence. Turbulence. Kurt hated turbulence. Even the slightest tremor made him nauseous and he really wasn't in the mood for showing himself up in front of his fellow passengers by vomiting everywhere.
The plane suddenly rattled and shook, and Kurt groaned. Thank God for the aisle seat, after all. Maybe getting assigned a seat right in the front wasn't so bad. At least he was near a bathroom.
He closed his eyes and leaned back in his chair, humming under his breath to distract himself. Why, today of all days, did the plane have to encounter turbulence? He was already sweaty and sticky and he was pretty sure what had been a carefully styled hairdo this morning had deflated like a meringue hadn't risen. Did he have to insert nausea into the equation as well?
Another tremor and Kurt squeezed his eyes shut tight, not caring how dumb he might look or that he was a professional working man with a job to do. He did not want to ruin this shirt any more that it already was. In through the nose, out through the mouth. In through the nose, out through the mouth.
Oh God, I am going to be sick.
"Are you all right?" A warm hand on his arm alerted him to the concerned voice of Blaine, the flight attendant from earlier. "You're kind of...white."
"Turbulence doesn't agree with me very much." Kurt managed to groan, his lips stuck together, his mouth parched. The plane shook again and he gripped the metal armrests tightly. "Oh God. I'm supposed to be meeting Vincent de Beaudelaire in five hours."
Through half-shut eyes, Kurt saw Blaine smile, flashing those ridiculously white teeth and making his eyes crinkle at the edges. That smile made Kurt's fingers and toes feel strange and his face flush an unattractive shade of pink.
And he was pretty sure he was going to be sick.
"D'you want some water? It might help."
"Please." was all Kurt could manage, his former irritation forgotten. He rummaged around in his pocket for some change but was immediately stopped by Blaine.
"No, no. It's on the house. Or rather, it's on the plane. You don't have to pay for things when you're sick." he insisted, motioning for Kurt to put his money away.
"Are you sure?" Kurt asked, hating the way his voice rasped.
There it was, the limb-tingling smile again. "Of course. I'll be right back."
When Kurt closed his eyes again, he saw Blaine's face imprinted on the black of his mind, even after his footsteps had faded away. He was nice, and concerned, and very good at his job, if this was the way he treated all the passengers on his flights. But nobody else was being offered a concerned voice and water and a friendly smile.
Maybe he was imagining things. Flight attendants weren't this nice to random passengers. He decided to ignore it and concentrate on getting his stomach to settle. The turbulence had stopped, but the nausea had been left behind.
Meanwhile Blaine had returned with a rather appealing cup of ice water.
"Here you go. Let me know if you need anything else, you just have to press this button" he pointed to a small button above Kurt's head, next to the A/C, "here and I'll be at your beck and call."
Kurt laughed. Actually laughed. Although, it was more of a little giggle which made him painfully aware that he was taking Blaine's kindness far too seriously. "Thank you."
"It's my pleasure." He winked.
The week had been a complete and utter disaster.
He had ordered no more than six bulk loads from four designers and even they were bordering on mediocre, but he would be lynched if he returned home to New York with nothing. Nothing he saw appealed and everything he saw felt wrong, as if it didn't quite fit what he had been looking for. He'd been kept awake most nights hoping he would have better success the following day, but he had no such luck.
Kurt was pretty much ready to jump off the roof Charles de Gaulle airport, to be honest, if he wasn't looking forward to the prospect of sitting in a reasonably comfortable plane seat for a six-hour flight back to New York. At least he hoped there would be no turbulence this time.
He wondered absently if Blaine would be attending on the flight and then mentally slapped himself for thinking such things. He did not, in any sense, want to see Blaine again.
He didn't want to see his perfectly white smile and his expressive eyes and all-round genuine friendliness that meant you couldn't help but warm to him. He definitely didn't want to peer at his ass like one of those old perverts on the Subway as he dragged the drinks cart up and down the aisle.
He definitely didn't want to get motion sickness again just so he would offer him some water.
So when he boarded his flight and spotted Blaine up at the front, near the cabin, talking animatedly with a fellow flight attendant, he didn't get giddy in the slightest.
When he settled into his seat and fastened his seatbelt, he certainly wasn't waiting for Blaine to come over and say hi.
And he definitely didn't want to push the call button just to see if Blaine would respond.
Get a grip, Kurt, he told himself sharply, you don't mix business with pleasure. And you certainly don't want to flirt with a flight attendant you'll probably never see ever again after this flight.
"Mesdames et messieurs, bienvenue à bord de ce vol à destination de New York, qui sera prochainement au départ. J'espère que vous avez un vol confortable et agréable. "
"Ladies and gentlemen, welcome aboard this flight to New York which will shortly be departing. I hope you have a comfortable and enjoyable flight."
He had a window seat this time instead of the aisle, so he settled for watching the hustle and bustle outside the plane through the small window as the plane prepared to depart. He watched as the remaining luggage was loaded onto the plane and the carts pulled away by attendants in ghastly fluorescent jackets, the boarding tunnel taken away. There was something soothing about the flow of rhythmical movement, of the routine.
That was, until a large woman with a disgruntled toddler unceremoniously stuffed herself into the seat next to him and Kurt felt like groaning out loud. It was only out of politeness that he kept his mouth shut. Today is not my day, he thought to himself. Hell, this week is not my week.
As if on cue, Blaine walked past Kurt's row checking the overheard compartments, his back towards him. Kurt watched with surprising fascination as he stretched onto his tiptoes to close each one, the movement showing off the muscles in his back and shoulders. He didn't know flight attendants were expected to be well-built, even if Blaine was smaller and more slender than the other men on the plane.
"Hello, stranger! You're back again?" Blaine had turned around and spotted Kurt sitting next to the aisle just as the plane rumbled into life beneath them, making Kurt's legs tremble.
"Unfortunately, yes. You're stuck with me as a passenger for another six hours." Kurt replied, allowing a small smile to cross his lips.
Blaine smiled his broad, white smile. "You say that like it's a bad thing." he quipped.
A moment passed between them in which Kurt couldn't help but notice the way his eyes crinkled up at the edges when he smiled in a half-squint, and the way his eyelashes went on for so long they were brushing his thick eyebrows. Kurt, it's not normal to look at a guy's eyelashes. Stop it.
"I never did get your name..." It's not a question, it's a prompt, and for once Kurt actually feels like answering honestly.
"It's Kurt." he said. "Kurt Hummel."
"Well, it's very nice to meet you. I suppose you've noticed that I'm Blaine." He laughed, pointing to the name tag pinned to his deep blue flight attendant's uniform. "My last name's Anderson."
"Is that Swedish?" Kurt heard himself ask without even realising it, and he flushed with his own eagerness.
"It's of Swedish origin, yeah. But it's spelt the American way, with an 'o' not and 'e', and only one 's'." Blaine explained.
Anderson. Kurt committed to memory for later use, whatever that may be.
"Kurt's an unusual name." he offered, scooting forward to allow a passenger to pass behind him. The plane was extremely noisy now as it taxied towards the runway, picking up speed, and he had to speak loudly so that Kurt could hear over the noise.
"My mom was a big fan of The Sound of Music. It was her favourite movie, and I guess it's one of mine, too." Kurt said softly, a sudden feeling of sadness creeping up on him at the mention of his late mother. It had been years, so many years, but it still hurt to know that she wasn't around any more.
"I prefer RENT, myself."
Kurt raised an eyebrow. Blaine knew musicals? More specifically, he knew The Sound of Music and RENT?
"Stage version or movie?"
"Both. Always both, but in very different ways."
Kurt allowed a moment to pass, not letting his approval show on his face. "Correct." He was actually really starting to like Blaine. The man knew RENT, for God's sake. He was a man after Kurt's own heart.
"Hey, are you two gonna stop yakkin'? You're blocking my view of the TV!" The woman next to Kurt piped up angrily, glaring at them both and motioning for Blaine to move so that she could watch the in-flight safety video currently being played on a small TV attached to the ceiling. They were in the sky now, barrelling upwards at breakneck speed, and for a moment Blaine looked appalled at the woman's rudeness.
Then, miraculously, his face softened and that stupidly white smile returned.
"I'm sorry, ma'am. I'll talk to you later, Kurt." And then he moved away down the aisle. Ma'am. Who calls people ma'am these days, anyway? Blaine was far too nice for his own good.
But Kurt did like him. He couldn't help it. He liked the way he'd said his name, Kurt, with an emphasis on the 't' which made his name sound a lot better than it actually was. He liked his low, melodic voice and his friendly tone and his eagerness to help. He'd barely known him for eight hours so far (counting his first flight) but he found himself wanting to speak to him again.
Holy crap, was Kurt Hummel actually attracted to a man for the first time in...well, since high school?
It was a strange feeling, but not an unpleasant one. It was...nice. He was good looking and kind and seemingly intelligent, and he was obviously good at his job because from what Kurt had observed (he was not staring at hi, thank you very much) from the happenings around the plane, Blaine was able to get a positive response from most of the passengers he tended to. In short, all the things Kurt had wanted in a man but could never find.
Kurt watched out of the corner of his eye as Blaine looked over his shoulder whilst talking to another steward and smiled at him, blinking slowly with those ridiculously long eyelashes, and Kurt couldn't help but return the gesture.
He swore he saw Blaine's cheeks go pink, but maybe he was imagining it. Because nobody had ever been attracted to him before, and it was insane to think that Blaine might be.
But then again, maybe it wasn't insane at all to think of the possibility of a hypothetical romance between himself and a flight attendant he met 7 days ago.
And that was how Kurt Hummel found himself a new love interest. He just didn't realise yet what it would eventually become.
A/N: Any chance you might want to leave a review? The credit for editing this chapter goes to ambur-kay, my awesome beta, tumblr user theuniversestalentscout :) I'm hoping for weekly updates on this every Tuesday so keep your eyes peeled. Until then, keep Klaining! (and follow me on tumblr, my url is likesboyswholikeboys)