Disclaimer: I own nothing you recognize.
A/N: Inspired by It Was A Very Good Year, title taken from there.
When I was seventeen
It was a very good year
It was a very good year for small town girls
And soft summer nights
At seventeen, Kurt Hummel feels truly happy for the first time in what seems like forever. It's the summer before his senior year and the rest of his life stretches in front of him like a red carpet. The bone deep desire to get out of Lima is finally a close reality and, after a promise made after a song on a stage, Kurt thinks of the future and imagines the New York skyline.
He and Rachel spend a lot of time together that summer. Sleeping at each others houses, going to the chick flicks their boyfriends talk through, and constantly turning to each other with the look of why did we spend so much time hating each other again? Kurt learns to love her enthusiasm instead of being irritated by it and Rachel gets into the habit of biting her tongue rather than dishing out critiques when they sing along to the car radio.
New York comes up a lot naturally, but mostly in abstracts. As they browse the mall, they'll discuss the color scheme for the apartment they'll share or when they go to the Lima Bean, Kurt will worry that he's doomed to a lifetime of baristas spelling his name with a C or Rachel gets excited at the idea of vegan restaurants that aren't a half hour's drive away.
It's a warm, June night and they're curled up on Rachel's front porch swing, watching the fireflies. As they wait for Blaine to pick Kurt up on his way home from work, the conversation drifts to New York, like always. After they debate the merits of Alphabet City versus Greenwich Village, the topic shifts into something solid for the first time: where will they go to school? On the count of three, they both announce they're top choice: Julliard. There's a little squeal, because how in sync are they, but then Rachel had tilted her head ever so slightly, smiling, "I would of thought you'd be looking into Parsons."
Kurt is taken aback, but not offended. He adores fashion and, yes, he keeps a sketchbook full of designs tucked into his bedside drawer, but going into the industry never occurred to him. Shrugging, he slides his eyes shut and smiles to let Rachel know he isn't mad (she gets this worried look on her face sometimes, when she realizes that something she's said could be heard the wrong way).
"I want Broadway," he says, voice soft, "I want to go on that stage and sing and have people say that I'm good."
Next to him, Rachel makes a soft sound before her hand goes to his shoulder, landing there like a nervous bird. Kurt leans up into the touch and then Rachel is pulling him into a tight hug. (She really doesn't need to ask anymore, but Kurt will always love her for asking permission before touching him. Too many people don't.)
"You are so good," she tells him, whispering fiercely into his ear, "You are so good and kind and you deserve it so much, Kurt. And if you leave me all alone in New York, I'll poke you on facebook all the time and leave you long voice-mails in the middle of the night."
"You do that anyway."
She pulls back to sniff haughtily, dismissing his point with an airy wave. "Semantics, Kurt. Semantics."
When I was twenty-one
It was a very good year
It was a very good year for city girls
Who lived up the stair
Rachel and Kurt are both highly organized individuals, so it makes no sense that this move is so chaotic. After four years spent in dorms rooms, they've scraped together enough savings to rent an apartment in Manhattan. It's cramped and hot and the elevator is broken, but by the way they celebrated upon signing the lease, you would of thought that they were going to live in the Four Seasons.
When it comes time to move in, they recruit a group of friends to help and label all their boxes and there's a checklist, but it all falls apart in the span of two hours. Despite living in miniscule dorm rooms, they've both accumulated a ton of stuff in four years. Rachel refuses to let go of her dream board and Kurt screeches when an album of his articles falls and scatters papers all over the kitchen. Only half the people who agreed to help show up and Blaine winds up twisting his ankle on the stairs within the first fifteen minutes and is out of commission (this means that Kurt, too, takes frequent breaks to coo over the injury and adjust his ice pack).
By midnight, though, all their furniture and boxes have made it safely inside. Next to nothing is unpacked and Blaine decides to spend the night rather than hazard the stairs again. Currently, he's sprawled out on the only inflatable air mattress and snoring so loudly that the paper thin walls seem to be shaking. Kurt and Rachel are in the kitchen, both too wired to sleep in spite of their aching muscles.
"I never want to do this again," Rachel groans, leaning heavily into the counter, "I can't wait until I'm a star and can have people do manual labor for me."
"Ugh, don't even start. I'm an intern; manual labor is my job."
Kurt is on the floor, in the vain hopes that the linoleum would be cool. It's not and all he really wants to do is sleep for a week, but they've both got work tomorrow and, eventually, the boxes will need to be unpacked and growing up is so not fun right now. He tells Rachel so and, suddenly, she's hopping over Kurt to go into the living room.
He considers getting up to see what she's rummaging through, but his body aches at the very thought, so he just moves so he's propped up against the fridge. When he stretches out his legs, Kurt can almost touch the wall on the other side. Rachel comes skidding back into the room, holding two mismatched coffee mugs and something behind her back. After Kurt takes one of the mugs, she brandishes a bottle of vodka, grinning like a madwomen.
"We've just gotten our first home and we're starting our first real jobs and going into the real world. We need to celebrate like adults do!"
As she fills both of their mugs half way, Kurt bites back a comment about how they've been "celebrating like adults" for years. Instead, he clinks his mug against Rachel's before taking a drink, smiling a little for the first time all day.
When I was thirty-five
It was a very good year
It was a very good year for blue-blooded girls
Of independent means
Whenever Rachel goes to an award show, she asks Kurt to be her date. He's married and she's been with the same guy for years, but she always checks with him first, sending him a formal invitation to the event like they don't constantly text and call each other throughout the day. Kurt almost always says yes, but he waits for a day or two before replying, reminding her that answering right away would seem desperate. Rachel laughs at that every time, not a big Broadway guffaw, but the quiet giggle that he remembers from constant sleepovers.
Tonight, the occasion is the Tonys. Rachel's current show is in the third year of it's run, so it's not up for any awards, but they do have her presenting for the first time ever. She's thrilled, of course, but while they're prepping for the red carpet, she panics about forgetting her speech.
"What if I hid notes in my cleavage? I could pull them out back stage. It would be very subtle."
Kurt has a mouth full of pins, so all he can do is give her a flat, judging look. Rachel raises her hands in surrender and the movement is enough that Kurt sticks her with a pin. Other than a small cry, she takes it like a trooper and promises to stay still. Kurt nods and doesn't believe for a second. He's not her stylist, but when she wears one of his designs, Kurt insists on altering it himself.
It takes another ten minutes and three more jabs for them to be done. Rachel twirls once, examining herself in the mirror in delight before throwing her arms around him and going, "Oh, Kurt, it's absolutely perfect."
And even though he pretends to be irritated as he smooths imaginary wrinkles from his suit, Kurt is thrilled. The dress is from his latest line and Rachel wears it better than any model could. He wants desperately to show this moment to himself from high school and go: Look what's waiting for you. You're successful and married and still close with your best friend and you're going to the Tonys for the eighth time tonight.
There's a knock at the door as someone reminds them that the red carpet is starting soon. Rachel's arms are still hanging loosely around Kurt's neck, making the event coordinator give them a strange look before she left. Grinning, Kurt says, "I think you may have just become part of a scandal, Ms. Berry."
"And with a married man!" Rachel bemoans, shaking her head like she's disgusted with herself.
There's a moment of quiet that stretches between them before the both burst out laughing, which means Kurt has to fuss Rachel's hair back into place until there's another knock at the door. E Television wants to interview Rachel, if she's ready. She looks at Kurt and, in the brief second, it's like their back in Ohio talking about their big dreams. Her eyes sparkle and Kurt smiles broadly, heart swelling with affection.
"Your adoring public awaits, madam," he says, offering up and arm for her to take.
She hooks her elbow in his, giving him a coy look before they step out into the sea of celebrities and interviewers and photographers. Before a peppy looking TV host swarms them, Kurt hears her tell him, "Thank you for being here."