A/N: And so the journey continues! This one is set two years after Evan is officially adopted by Kurt and Blaine, so June 2024 as far as the time line goes. This is basically Oliver's big introduction into the verse and I've split it into two parts, the next of which will be up... some time this weekend most likely.
So enjoy another little peak into their future for now! The next one shot I do for this will most likely be back in their college or high school days.
Oh, and the little image icon for this fic is a "face claim" for Oliver. Image isn't mine, just something I found on google.
One of a Kind
Mornings were hectic, even after Evan's school year ended at the beginning of June. Saturdays in particular were rough for Kurt. He was usually up first, more often than not by choice, making coffee, running through his skin care routine, and cleaning himself up for a long morning spent on the sidelines of a soccer field, cheering himself hoarse.
Today was much worse than most Saturdays were. He was frazzled with a throbbing ache between his eyes that curved along his eye sockets to his temples. Migraines weren't uncommon for him when he was getting close to one of his company's due dates, and the next one was set for the following Tuesday, but it still irked him. Evan's final tournament was scheduled to run all morning and well into the afternoon.
It hadn't helped that Blaine had been adamant about keeping him up all night. By the time he entered the kitchen, squinting to keep the amount of light reaching his eyes to a minimum, his hair was dangling limply from the number of times he'd run his hands through it. The first pot of coffee went start into his belly before he started on a simple breakfast and by the time the last slices of toast popped up Evan was trampling down the stairs, slinging his bags of soccer gear onto the table. As Evan hopped onto one of their island stools and began wolfing down everything in sight, Kurt turned the toaster back on and began making more.
Ever since Christmas, Evan had been eating nonstop and, as a newly-minted thirteen year old, Kurt wasn't that surprised. Their son was still skinny and very short for him age, slowly catching up to his peers, but definitely more solid and filled out than he'd been three years ago at the home. Kurt knew it was only a matter of time before the real grow spurts began, especially if the number of shoes they'd gone through for him in the last six weeks was any indication. It was a daunting thought that, after only three years of loving and knowing him, Evan was already on his way to growing up.
A squawking hiccup rumbled up out of Evan as he paused between bites of toast and cereal. It was his latest tic, only appearing a few mornings ago, and while Evan seemed to shrug the noise off, this one definitely didn't do anything for Kurt's migraine.
"Still masquerading as a parrot, I see," Blaine greeted, shuffling into the kitchen with a loud yawn.
He planted a whiskery kiss on Evan's tangled curls as he passed then looped his arms around Kurt and pulled him in tight. Relieved, but head still throbbing dully, Kurt snuggled into his embrace and accepted a prickly kiss of his own on the lips.
"Morning, handsome," Blaine murmured, lining Kurt's sharp jaw with playful pecks of his lips that reminded Kurt of several other kiss lines Blaine's lips had drawn over his body last night.
It tickled a lot to be kissed by Blaine these days. When summer hit and Blaine wasn't teaching in the city, he tended to forget about shaving for most of the week. Most days Kurt didn't mind, and if he was quite honest, the rough stubble was definitely a turn-on for him, but he drew the line at the bushy beard Blaine had infested his face with last summer. That was not something he wanted anywhere near his skin when he was convinced a family of mice had taken up residence in the thick growth.
Kurt was still leaning into Blaine's strong embrace when the doorbell rang. Evan gave a holler and bolted out of the room to let his soccer team mate, Ryan, in and Blaine rubbed Kurt's neck and shoulders firmly.
"You're so tense," Blaine said in concern, eyes flickering teasingly. "Long night?"
"You damn well know it was," Kurt grumbled as Blaine laughed against his neck. "Someone decided he wanted to tease several orgasms out of me until dawn."
"I know you enjoyed it, babe," Blaine quipped, voice slightly husky as he smiled. "The stains you left on the sheets are plenty proof of that." A playful nip brushed Kurt's chin before Blaine's eyes softened as Kurt wilted back against the counter. "You wanna stay home today? Evan won't mind, and it's the first leg of their tournament so it's a long day of game after game… "
"You sure?" Kurt asked uncertainly as the sound of cleats clattering along the hardwood came closer. The noise was almost thunderous in his head and he groaned. "Nope, you're definitely going to be sure about that suggestion now. I need something for my migraine and then a long nap."
Evan and Ryan rushed in with shouts of laughter and the swinging of another big soccer bag. Blaine nudged Kurt down towards the closest chair and went to get aspirin and a glass of water.
"Dad?" Evan asked, looking worried. "You look kinda funny."
Kurt glanced up and found his son and his friend watching him closely. There was absolutely no way he'd admit the truth about what had kept him up or admit to Blaine that he might be on the verge of getting too old for all-nighters after a sixty hour work week, but he did his best to hitch up a convincing smile.
"Didn't sleep so well," Kurt explained, thanking Blaine as he handed over the water and the aspirin. "I think I'm going to stay home today and let you guys have a wild adventure without me, okay?"
Evan frowned, but nodded, looking slightly disappointed but with enough understanding in his gaze to not make a fuss. After giving him a fleeting hug, Evan and Ryan hoisted their bags up and began the difficult task of lugging them out to the Range Rover. Blaine lingered in the kitchen, stepping up behind Kurt and massaging his shoulders.
"You want to meet us for the usual celebratory dinner or do you want me to bring something home?" Blaine questioned, his fingers pressing firmly against a knot in Kurt's neck. "God, you're tense. You'd think a good fuck would have loosened you up… "
Kurt snorted despite his headache and swatted at Blaine's hands. "I can't believe you're still using that line after fifteen years."
"Don't fix what isn't broken," Blaine purred against Kurt's ear. "So yes or no on dinner?"
After a few moments of debate, Kurt said, "I'll call you after my nap and see how I feel. I could just stay in for the day. Maybe have Lily over, work on the nursery a little more… "
"She was quite cross with you the other night," Blaine said with a grin as he wrapped his arms around Kurt's shoulder and rested his chin on one side. "Her feet are all swollen because, and I quote, 'Kurt's sperm dumpling is the size of an overripe watermelon."
"Sperm dumpling?" Kurt echoed in amusement, thinking about his sister-in-law, a year out of college and their very persistent and willing surrogate. Blaine and he had both agreed years ago that they'd wanted at least three children, and while they'd been a licensed foster home for several months now, they'd yet to find a good match for the same age range as Evan. When Lily and Evan had sat them down with the suggestion of having a child that was biologically Kurt's (and technically Blaine's niece or nephew by blood), they'd both been surprised, but it was almost eleven months since that discussion and Lily was closing in on her sixth month of the pregnancy.
"She's pretty creative when she's cranky," Blaine reminded him. "Then she booted me out because Adrian came home and she was horny. Knew I liked him better than that Trevor. Do you remember that tool?"
"Well, it's true– "
"Papa! We're gonna be late!"
"Not as late as Lily– "
"Oh, my god, get out of here," Kurt snapped, burying his grin in his hands as he tried to stop himself from laughing out loud and making his migraine far worse than it already was.
"I'm going," Blaine grumbled, hands raised in defeat. He paused before stepping away, planting a soft kiss on Kurt's temple. "I love you. Feel better."
"Love you, too."
The boys both cheered a few seconds later and then Blaine's loud, energetic voice was hollering before the door snapped shut. Kurt slumped down against the kitchen table's cool surface, eyeing the bottle of aspirin as he shut his eyes and groaned in discomfort.
He would have something quick to eat, take some aspirin, and then curl up in bed – the one that Blaine would have definitely changed before coming downstairs this morning if he knew what was good for him. Fifteen minutes later, Kurt was back upstairs in sweatpants and Blaine's old, fluffy Berklee hoodie. To his relief, all the bedding had been changed and, as he burrowed himself down under the blankets, he thought longingly of having his husband there to snuggle with.
The gentle buzz of his phone on the night-stand roused Kurt several hours later. He was confused to find a big fluffy blanket from the living room draped over him and the bedroom door open. For the moment, he ignored the absurdity and snatched his phone up, surprised to see their foster care agent, Marie, was calling him.
"H- h- hello?" Kurt yawned, curling his legs up into the cocoon of heat he'd been lying in. He was thankful to find that his migraine was gone now, even if his head still felt a little heavy.
"Kurt? It's Marie. I'm– are you still sleeping?" she asked in surprise as Kurt yawned loudly again.
Marie was a sweet woman, very friendly and easy to talk with. She had no problems treating Kurt and Blaine as if they were her closest friends and it was the main reason they'd picked her as their agent. They'd wanted someone they could be relaxed and open with and that was easy with her.
"Migraine this morning," Kurt mumbled. "Stayed home and took a nap while Blaine took Evan to his tournament."
"Aw, I'm sorry, are you feeling better? I used to get terrible migraines in college, made finals week a nightmare," Marie said sympathetically. There was a flurry of shuffling papers in the background as Kurt rubbed his eyes and sat up.
"No, I'm feeling much better actually," he admitted, stretching as he slumped back against the pillows. "I'm probably going to finish up the embroidery in the baby's room."
"Any chance you two will have room for a third?"
Kurt was humming softly to himself as he yanked the blankets up to his chin when his brain processed the question she'd just asked. He must have misheard. They'd been licensed for months and hadn't even had a potential, and yet– His stomach leap, bouncing on a spring board as he sat up and clutched the phone tighter.
"A t- third? Are you– you have a child that'll– "
"Oliver. He's eleven and been with one of our centers in Buffalo since he was a few days old," Marie informed him, her voice slipping into the tone she used when she was reading off one of the children's charts. "He's been jumping around from foster home to foster home since he was a few years old. Very sick baby, lots of ear infections and the like, so they didn't give him to a foster home until he was a little older."
"Okay," Kurt replied, digesting all of the sudden information. Already his heart was swelling at the thought of the boy, the idea that they'd finally found someone who wanted them just as much as they wanted him.
He could tell there was obviously more to the story behind this boy, perhaps he had an unfit mother he'd been taken from right out of the hospital and was, until this point, still hoping to be returned to her if her situation changed. That was typical of a lot of children in foster care from his understanding, though it seemed odd that eleven years had passed without a full decision and court order being made about him being returned to his biological parents.
"His biological parents?" Kurt asked, pushing the blankets off of him and swinging his legs over the side of the bed. The door creaked open a little more across the room and he briefly glanced in its direction, seeing Lily's round belly pop through the door before the rest of her followed.
"No records on them. He was left on the doorstep of the children's' home with a note asking that he be given to a good home," Marie said, and this time her voice was soft in a way that told Kurt she wasn't reading a file anymore. She must be quite familiar with Oliver's case. He could hear the frown in her voice, even though her speech barely faltered. Cases like this, even ones like Evan's, were children she was accustom to dealing with a daily basis and, as well as she might know the child personally, she always did her best to stay professional.
"I'll have to talk to Blaine before we agree," Kurt said finally. "I'm sure he will," he added, "I just want to give him the time to hear the news. If we agree, will he move in with us immediately or will we meet with him first?"
"Of course, and he's a standard move-in case because of his age and familiarity with the process," Marie said, shuffling her phone a bit and then the click-clapping of someone typing echoed against Kurt's ear. "I'll send the locked record to your email, okay? You'll need all of your passwords and codes to access it, but I think you're really going to love him."
"Does he know you want to place him with us?" Kurt asked as Lily dropped down beside him, one hand rubbing over the side of her belly.
"He's returning to the Buffalo center this afternoon from his previous foster home and I've already sent all of your information over for him to read through," Marie answered as she continued typing. "If you all agree that it seems like a good match, he can move in as early as Monday."
"I think we might need a little more time," Kurt replied nervously. "We have Evan to consider, too, and I know he'd love to have someone his age around, but I really want us to sit down with him first, especially if Oliver's situation is difficult."
"No, no, that's fine, I understand completely. You two have a lot going on right now with planning for the new baby and I–" Marie cut off in a way that made Kurt certain she was biting her lip. "Oliver is a really sweet boy, Kurt. All the workers at the center adore him, but he's very quiet. That's part of the reason the last home never filed for adoption. He rarely talked, one or two word answers, and so they thought he didn't like them. It's not that he can't talk," she hastened to add, clearly picking up on Kurt's concerned frown, "he just doesn't want to. Or isn't comfortable with the people he's been placed with so far. He's very smart, so I think that's part of it. He doesn't want to get attached with people who aren't in it as a long-term commitment. You and Blaine have been so wonderful with Evan, and I have this gut feeling that you'll bring Oliver out of his shell, too."
His heart tugged in his chest again as Kurt rubbed his chin.
"I'll call Blaine and give him a heads up and we'll get back to you by Monday morning," Kurt decided. "He's sounds wonderful," he added, smiling softly. "I really can't wait to meet him."
"Thank you, Kurt," Marie said. "I look forward to hearing from you two."
After he hung up, Kurt set his phone back on the night-stand as Lily shifted beside him.
"They found a match?" she asked, still rubbing over her belly. "I think you two are going to have another soccer player. She hasn't stopped kicking in two days."
"A boy, Oliver," Kurt clarified. "He's eleven. And don't say she," he added. "There's no need to gender my baby before it's born."
"You two are having a rambunctious baby girl and that's that," Lily huffed, groaning as another round of kicks hit her ribs. "Ugh, I almost regret volunteering for this."
"It was your idea," Kurt reminded her.
"No, it was your son's idea," Lily corrected and Kurt was shocked.
"Evan? Really? I can't picture him thinking up this," he gestured to Lily's stomach, "on his own."
"Well, he demanded that I tell him the best way for him to have a baby brother or sister and this was the conclusion I arrived at first," Lily grunted, pushing off from the bed forcefully."I always planned on offering one day when you two looked into it, anyway. Just speeds things up a little."
Kurt quickly pressed his hand into the small of her back and helped ease her onto her feet.
"Thanks," Lily muttered. "Do you want to call Blaine? He said earlier that you wanted to work on the nursery, so I've been fixing up a few things in there while you slept."
"Yeah, I don't think he'll mind an interruption from all the cheering," Kurt agreed.
He watched Lily waddle out of the bedroom before reaching for his phone once more and dialing Blaine's number. On the second ring, Blaine picked up and a roar of voices rumbled through the device.
"– get him, guys! Come on, pass! Hey, babe," Blaine said, his voice dropping from a shout to a soft, easy tone. "How are you feeling?"
"Marie called," Kurt said without preamble. "She's found a match."
"Sh– really? Is it– Kurt, did she say–" Static crackled through Blaine's excited voice and a few moments later the cheers faded away. Blaine must have hurried away from the stands full of other parents and to somewhere quieter. "How old?"
"Eleven," Kurt told him, his stomach flopping around at the thought of Oliver. "His name's Oliver and– Blaine, he's sounds wonderful. He really does."
"What's his history like?" Blaine asked, his voice a little nervous.
It wasn't that they weren't prepared to take in a child with emotional issues or traumatic events in their past, but Kurt knew Blaine was thinking about the arrival of the new baby in the fall and Evan's potential reaction to a possibly violent or hostile child.
"He's been in the system since he was a few days old. She's sending us his files," Kurt answered. "She said he's really quiet and has been shuffled around foster homes, but… it's just a feeling, Blaine, but he sounds like such a good match– "
"He does," Blaine agreed softly and Kurt could hear the hopeful smile lingering on his lips. "We're going to have a really full house come October."
"Yeah, it looks like it," Kurt agreed. Then he hesitated, because they'd discussed the idea of adopting another child with Evan before they'd become a licensed foster home, but the possibility of another child was very different from the reality of it, especially for a thirteen year old. "Do you want to read over his file tonight before we mention anything to Evan?"
Blaine was silent for a few moments before he answered, "Yeah. I want to be positive that we're ready for this before we get his hopes up. It's going to be an adjustment for him after having his own room for two years."
The thought hadn't even occurred to Kurt until Blaine mentioned it and it made Kurt feel anxious. "Do you think he'll be upset about sharing his room? I mean, I know he said he'd love a brother his age, but… I remember being thirteen and not wanting anyone in my room."
"He's shared a room with six other boys before he came to us," Blaine reminded him, but he sounded unsure as well. "I think it'll depend on how well they get along, or if they do." He sighed roughly. "I'd hate to bring Oliver into our home only for him and Evan to hate each other. Getting both of their hopes up like that… I don't know if I could bear hurting both of them like that."
"Me either," Kurt mumbled weakly. The suddenly excitement that had come with Marie's call was slowly sinking away as all of the potential problems began materializing in his mind. They barely knew Oliver and already the idea of giving him false hope and breaking his heart made Kurt's stomach churn.
"Look, the game's almost over," Blaine said after a few more contemplative minutes. "I'm gonna go round Evan up and let him sleepover at Ryan's, so we can talk everything over tonight."
After agreeing and exchanging "I love yous," Kurt ended the call and stood up. For now he was going to help Lily in the nursery and ignore the jittery thoughts in his head. Blaine would be home in a few hours, they'd all have dinner together, and then they'd sit down and read through Oliver's information together.
Blaine arrived back at the house two hours later with bags of Chinese takeout and Evan's soccer bags. After planting the idea in Ryan and Evan's heads on the trip back from the soccer league fields across the island, he let the boys do the rest of the work, calling Ryan's parents and begging, and then dropping them off at the other boy's house on the way back to their own. By the time he'd left, several of the kids other friends were on their way over, too, ready for a long afternoon of swimming and soccer in the backyard.
"Kurt? Lily?" Blaine hollered as he toed the garage door closed and headed into the kitchen.
There was no answer from upstairs, but Blaine knew they were both here. The first thing he'd done after he'd left this morning was call his sister and ask her to check in on him and then given her his full permission to raid their fridge to her stomach's content. She'd been unable to say no to that.
Blaine paused, listening for a moment until he heard the shifting of someone upstairs. He grabbed a few drinks from the fridge and carried the food upstairs. When he pushed the door to the future nursery open, he was surprised to find how much had changed since he'd been in there a few days ago.
"Wow," he breathed, staring around at the newly painted crib and the wall hangings that Kurt was placing just right. "I can't believe you got so much done."
"Well, all the walls are dry since you finished that a few days ago," Kurt commented, tongue poking out from between his teeth as he straightened the wooden giraffe cut out on the wall until it was perfect.
"Oh, god, is that Chinese?" Lily grunted, shoving herself out of the rocking chair and thundering towards Blaine, who held the food out before she could knock him down for it. "General Tso's, yes!"
As Lily waddled back towards the rocking chair with an entire bag of takeout, Kurt sauntered over and slid his hands around Blaine's hips and into the back pockets of his jeans.
"Hey, tiger," he murmured, pecking him on the lips and smirking. "Bring me anything good or did you just want to keep your sister and the baby happy?"
"Oh, I've got plenty of things I've brought you," Blaine quipped, arching back against Kurt's hands until Lily made a noise of protest.
"Seriously, do you two ever quit?" she grumbled, popping open a container of fried rice and digging in. "It's a good thing you're both men or you'd have more children than you could count."
Blaine snorted as Kurt grinned against his neck. "Aw, and Blaine would probably look so cute with a little pregnant belly."
With a squawk of protest, Blaine pulled away from his husband, frowning and looking disgruntled. That was not something he wanted to imagine. The very idea of something – someone – growing inside of him and then coming out of a hole that didn't exist was terrifying.
"No, way, you can carry them," Blaine argued, handing Kurt the second bag of food with his favorites and another container of General Tso's for Blaine.
"Oh, shut up, I'm already doing it for both of you," Lily quipped loudly before digging back into her food.
Kurt and Blaine ate on the floor together, backs against the little dresser as Lily rocked and stuffed herself in the rocking chair. They sat there for a long while, laughing and discussing arrangements for the little room, and the names they'd settled on a few weeks ago.: Anna Rose for a girl and Cole Alexander for a boy. Originally they'd each thought about using the other's mother's name for a little girl, but after a long discussion they decided against it. They didn't want to saddle their daughter with two names that held so much importance in their hearts. The last thing they wanted to do was make her think she had to live up to her grandmothers or that they only saw them when they looked at her.
By seven o'clock, Lily left, wishing them good luck on their new potential foster child. They showered and then curled up in bed, Kurt's laptop resting on their knees as they filled out all of the identity and access information to access Oliver's file.
"I wonder if there's a picture," Blaine murmured, tucking his chin over Kurt's shoulder and resting his arms on his husband's stomach. Kurt wiggled between his legs as he started the download, leaning back in his embrace.
"Is it weird that I'm scared about this?" Kurt asked him softly. "It's just so sudden and… what if we hurt him? Or Evan? What if we make the wrong decision?"
"Hey, no, we won't, okay? We've got a lot to talk about before we even give this a chance, and you said yourself he sounds wonderful, Kurt," Blaine reminded him, threading his fingers through Kurt's damp bangs. "I'm sure we can take a few more days if we really need to, or we can always say no. We do have a lot going on right now between Evan, the new baby coming, your job, my job, the store, and everything in between. But let's read first and then decide."
"Right," Kurt murmured as the download finished. "Okay."
Blaine watched him extract the files and then open the folder and then the file. The first page was similar to others they'd seen over the last few years and much like Evan's. There were all of the boy's basic information: full name, biological parent information (which was blank), current age, height, weight, and a handful of other notes.
"Hmm," Blaine said, reading the information over Kurt's shoulder. "He's almost as tall as Evan; he won't like that."
Kurt shook his head, but smiled at Blaine's words. "He'll get over it, and his feet are almost as big as ours. He won't be short for much longer."
"Ugh, don't remind me," Blaine groaned as Kurt scrolled to the next page.
There was a long list of medical check-ups, childhood sicknesses and boxes for allergies and anything else that might be necessary for a parent to know.
"Allergic to penicillin," Kurt remarked, running his finger over the screen under the words. "That's got to make medical treatment more complicated, doesn't it?"
"Had a lot of ear infections when he was a baby, didn't he?" Blaine replied, pressing a dry kiss to Kurt's neck. "Seems like he's been all right since then. Had chicken pox when he was five, a few flus, but nothing out of the ordinary."
"Yeah, Marie mentioned the ear infections. She said he wasn't put into a foster home for a while because of that," Kurt said, scrolling further down.
It was the next page that Blaine had really been interested in. A long list of previous foster homes and the dates Oliver had been there appeared, followed by each home's comments and notes on him. They read through it all silently, page after page from the seven different foster homes until Blaine's head was buzzing with all of the information. It wasn't that there was a lot, or really anything worrisome that stuck out when he thought about Evan's history and how the two would mesh, but the poor boy had been shuffled around a lot in the past nine years.
"She said he was really quiet," Kurt said softly, glancing at Blaine over his shoulder. "I– and that he was smart and she thought that had to do with it. All the workers at the center say he's very sweet, but what if he doesn't like us and we all get attached and he still doesn't open up?"
"He's scared, I think, or had less than stellar experiences from his first foster homes and so he doesn't want to get attached," Blaine pondered as Kurt continued to scroll through all forms and foster home consents that had been scanned into the file. "Most of them aren't great. Just people wanting the extra money and an older kid to babysit the younger ones."
As Blaine watched the screen move, he glanced at Kurt, his lower lip sucked between his teeth. Oliver seemed like a nice young boy, very calm and quiet, but guarded, and understandably so considering the nature of his entire life. He knew without asking that Kurt was already in love with this little boy, wanted to bring him into their house and fawn over him like he did with Evan. Overall, he was a great match for them, Evan, and the addition of a baby in a few months. There was no history of violence or aggressive that could trigger Evan or upset and scare the baby, but it still worried Blaine.
Another life would be in their hands, another young boy to help and love and slowly develop a trusting relationship with. Their relationships with Evan had taken a long time and, even now, it surprised Blaine that it had all gone so well. But this boy's life was different than his own or Evan's. He was guarded, but in a different way, and the thought scared Blaine because he wasn't familiar with it or what it could mean for Oliver.
"You really want him, don't you?" Blaine asked after a few more minutes of silent thought. As he leaned forward into Kurt again, he caught sight of the screen and his heart leapt. There was a picture, a grainy, wrinkled picture that had been scanned in, but as soon as Blaine saw it, he knew there was no turning back.
Dark hair hung along his eyelashes, slightly wavy as the ends curled away from his head; pale skin and a thin, unsmiling face. He was probably nine or ten in the photograph, but Blaine had no doubts that they were going to say yes now, not when those silent, sad blue eyes were staring back at them from behind thick frames. Not when that desolate, hopeless acceptance of having nothing and nobody was staring back at him.
"He looks so sad," Kurt murmured, fingers brushing the screen by Oliver's ear. Blaine sighed, hugging Kurt against his chest as he looked on, knowing that Kurt was absolutely right and that there was more than sadness in those eyes, there was loss and a longing so powerful it made Blaine's entire body ache at the reminders it dredged up. Even two decades later he remembered how it felt to be alone in a crowded room, to have nobody around who seemed to actually care as he shut himself off in his own little world while his father drank and his step-mother started yelling over his baby sister's wails.
"We'll make a big breakfast and talk to Evan about him in the morning," Blaine decided. He didn't have to ask if Kurt wanted to take Oliver in. Their hearts and minds had been in tune for over a decade and, in moments like this, there was no need to ask what decision Kurt had arrived at because he knew it was the same as his own.
As Oliver set the last of his belongings on his bedside dresser, the pack of boys that occupied the room returned from outside. He grimaced at the noise they carried with them, like a thick cloud saturated and heavy with thunder and hail. None of them were nice; none of them were his friends. He was just an object of teasing and taunting for them.
They all paused on their ways to their own spots, glancing over at him until Oliver's skin crawled. He knew exactly what they were thinking and, as much as he hated the thought of another foster home, he really couldn't wait to be shipped off to one. Anything was better than being teased and mocked by the boys he roomed with at the center.
"Looks like someone got passed over again," the oldest of the boys, John, remarked, laughing as he flopped down onto his squeaky mattress. He was sixteen now, and not alarming huge by typical adult standards, but to Oliver, he was a giant with five years more of life and experience, and who knew (as Oliver's long faded bruises would justify) how to pack a wallop. "Doesn't surprise me. That was, what? Ten? Eleven?"
"Dunno why they still bother with you," another, Neil, remarked from across the room, eyes glinting. "Should have been obvious from the start that nobody wanted you. Even your own mother dumped you on the doorstep of this shithole."
Oliver flinched and started scanning over the stack of books on his desk, trying to block out the insults and nonsense the other boys always spewed at him. They'd been saying the same thing for years, as though it wasn't something Oliver didn't already know. He knew he wasn't wanted and that was why he grew up here, but someday, when he'd suffered through another handful of houses and taken care of other people's screaming babies, he'd be off on his own and making his own choices.
The other boys continued to snicker and make rude remarks as Oliver scooped out his favorite book and curled up at the head of his bed. If they'd been smaller or younger, he might have bothered replying or swinging his fist, but they weren't. Each of them were pushing high school age or already there, with cracking voices and a foot of height on him.
"Oh, right," one finally sneered over at him as another two started up a rough pillow fight. "We forgot you don't talk. Guess there's no point in saying anything when you're nothing."
He kept his gaze fixed on the page he'd opened up to, but his eyes were focused. They always said that; always got bored with his silence and just brushed him off with what they thought was the worst possible insult. Oliver never bothered countering with a reminder that even if he was 'nothing' to them, that didn't make him as lowly and worthless as they were.
The other boys continued to horse around, growing rougher and louder, until there was a knock on the door and Oliver glanced up to see Ms. Stacey step into the room. She was one of the workers at the center and had been here since Oliver was very little. Secretly she was his favorite, even though he had only said a handful of words and phrases to her over the past seven years.
"Boys, you're all supposed to be having quiet reading time before dinner," she scolded, yanking the pillows out of several hands and shooing them towards their own beds. "Find something to read or we'll cut your activity time down tomorrow."
With grumbles and glares, the other boys scrambled around, tugging out old books and comics they had stashed about the room. As David whipped one out from under Oliver's mattress, Ms. Stacey settled down on the foot of his bed, looking serious.
Uh oh. What had the other guys tried to blame him for now?
"Are you up for an office visit, Oliver?" she asked gently. The tone always made him relax, warmth seeping into his limbs at how easy it was to not worry or fear anything when she was there. None of the other center workers made him feel like that, though he knew it wasn't some silly crush like John had had the last time he was here. Crushes were weird to watch happen when John was involved. Or maybe all boys drooled and acted super macho around pretty girls. Oliver wasn't sure, but he didn't think he'd ever act like that around a girl.
"Okay," he mumbled as several of the boys snorted behind their books.
They always laughed whenever he dared to speak. Oliver assumed it was because he spoke softly, and his voice was always a little hoarse because he didn't use it a lot.
"Come on, let's go before dinner," she encouraged, offering a hand to help him up.
He accepted it after a moment, and followed her from the "11 and up" boys' room, hoping that whatever she wanted to speak about meant not having to sleep in there for more than few nights. Knowing his luck, she probably just wanted to go over his last foster home again and revisit the pages they'd had him fill out about his experience. There wasn't anything bad he'd written out, despite his sole purpose at the Michaels' home being a babysitter for their triplet girls and newborn son.
As the office door clamped shut behind him, Oliver glanced around the small, stuffed room. The walls were lined with bookcases filled with file after file on all the children that came and went through the center and all of the foster homes and adoptive parents that had been here during the last handful of years. Most of it was on the computer now, catalogued and stored in a database that Oliver had glimpsed a few times, but he knew they kept these files on hand for the active cases and any cases within a certain number of years.
Ms. Stacey settled down in the little desk in the corner and waved Oliver over with a smile. He obeyed quietly, shuffled across the tiny room and plopping down onto a little wooden chair facing her.
"I know this is a little soon, but… "
Oliver's heart leapt as she slid a folder across the desk towards him. He was relieved at the sight and hoped whoever was inside was decent sounding, even though he knew it wouldn't work out. They never did for one reason or another, but anything was better than hanging around here for an extended period of time.
"I think you'll really like these two," Ms. Stacey continued kindly, and Oliver resisted the urge to roll his eyes. All of the workers said that whenever they handed him a new file, but he held back with Ms. Stacey because part of him actually believed she wasn't just saying that as part of her job. She genuinely seemed to care about all of them. "They live on Long Island, so it's quite a ways away from your usual homes, but Mrs. Terrence– you remember her from her last visit, right? Mrs. Marie? She speaks very highly of them and the boy they adopted a few years ago."
His chest gave another funny twinge at the last sentence. They'd adopted a boy already. These people were adopters, as he liked to call them; that meant they'd either be overfriendly and put-off by his silence or incredibly pushy about getting him to talk.
Without looking up, he took the folder and flipped the cover open. The first page was the standard information he was used to, giving him names, ages, occupations, and where they lived.
Blaine and Kurt Hummel
He frowned at the names, because he'd met with several gay couples before, but he'd never seen them share a last name. For a moment he contemplated Blaine being a woman, because he was almost certain it was androgynous, but then he skimmed down further and pushed that idea aside. Each was listed as male and both thirty years of age.
Oliver took his time reading over the information, seeing the process and dates they'd gone through with their adopted son, Evan, and wondering how that boy was doing with them. His potential foster brother had a number of disorders listed, though Oliver only glanced at them. He'd lived in houses before where children had been abused and a few with Autistic children. A boy with ADHD and Tourette's wasn't anything of worry for him.
"So what do you think, Oliver?" Ms. Stacey asked as he looked up and met her eyes.
He said nothing, as usual, thinking over what he'd read. The Hummel's were financially stable, which surprised him. Most foster couples tended to use the money they gained from their foster children for their own means instead of on the child it was intended for, but these men didn't seem like they would. There wasn't any logical reason for it and he, if they all agreed, would be the first foster child they'd ever taken in. They were each successful and had the money to put Evan into a number of soccer programs, both in and out of school. Their house was fully paid off and in a very nice part of Long Island, from what Oliver understood.
It was strange to him to read about them. They were an enigma; almost a bizarre fantasy he hadn't yet encountered that didn't fit into any of the categories he'd established over the years.
"Oh, I almost forgot," Ms. Stacey said into his silence, scrambling up and heading over to the little cabinet by the door. "Marie sent a picture of them along. It's from Evan's thirteenth birthday a few weeks ago. They like to keep her updated on how he's doing."
Nonplussed, Oliver took the photograph that was handed to him and felt another twinge in his chest, though it was much more like a small avalanche. They were all smiling, bright and honest and true. It gave him just the slightest flash of hope before he pushed it aside.
It wouldn't work. These things never did.
Ms. Stacey sat back down, and he knew she was watching him closely as he examined each face, taking in the man with the dark curls and fuzzy face, the paler, thin man with gravity-defying hair, and the small boy between them, crushed by their combined hug, but grinning broadly as the first man's cheek rested against his thick, dirty blond curls.
"They really are wonderful, Oliver," Ms. Stacey said softly after a few minutes. "And– I know you don't think any of these foster homes actually want you and I know you hate being here, too, even if you don't say it, but… Kurt and Blaine? They're the real deal, from everything I've heard, and I really, really think this is going to be a great place for you. Maybe even a home and a family if you let them in a little bit."
He was so caught off guard by her observations of him from over the years and how well she knew him that he'd almost spoken more than he had in close to a year. She'd never made a pitch like that before, no matter how great the couple had sounded on paper, and it made him wonder why. Something was different about these men, that much was obvious from this, but he couldn't begin to figure out what that difference might be.
"Okay," he whispered weakly after a few moments. "I'll go."