"We need to call the electrician back, the cable and pulley system for the curtain isn't working properly," Blaine said, sitting down at a table at the back of the auditorium. Rachel wrote a note on her pad and looked back to Blaine in case he had any more suggestions.
"Honestly, I'm wondering what on Earth I was thinking when this whole project came to mind," Finn said, his head in his hands, sounding defeated. Rachel set her pad down and walked up in back of him as he sat there. She put her arms around his shoulders and kissed his hair.
"You were thinking with your heart as you always do," Kurt answered. "Don't let this string of tiny annoying things make you give up on the final product. Speaking of which, how is the therapy dog lady going with the new buildings?"
"Oh, I just heard from Evelyn this morning," Blaine answered. "She loved the kennels and all the permits are in place. I can't believe a year of planning is going to be done in a few short weeks!" Blaine crowed, smiling down at his own service dog. Princess stood up and walked over to Blaine, leaning against him in silent invitation for him to pet her. He smiled and complied, rubbing behind her ears where she loved it the most. She leaned her muzzle on his knee and looked up with love in her eyes.
This whole project had been a dream of Finn's from the very start and as he shared that dream with his wife and brothers, it took shape and grew. It had taken a full year of writing grants and fund-raising and back-breaking hard work to make this dream come true, but it was now in its final stages.
The friends sat in the theater building, testing all the stage lights and the electric equipment such as the floor risers and the cable-pulley to raise and lower the curtain. The electricians that had donated their time to fix the run-down theater had done a wonderful job. Tomorrow the last of the volunteers would be finishing up the few remaining things. They had hung the heavy red velvet curtains with gold fringe last week, the seats had been repaired and all had freshly upholstered red velveteen.
Looking around, the four friends were amazed at the change in the donated theater. With the opening just six weeks away, it was coming together quickly.
"You know, I would never have had this without you guys," Finn said, tears in his eyes as he looked at Blaine, Kurt, and his wife, Rachel. "I could never get it out of my mind, how the three of you became lifelong friends – all because of a summer theater group for children. What would our lives be without that summer? How did it all happen?"
"I was in going into second grade," Rachel started, "and I knew even then that I wanted to be a star. My dads took me to private lessons for singing and dancing, gymnastics and anything else they could think of to please me. The result of all those was not only that I was sure of myself, but I had learned to alienate myself from any kid in any of those classes. I thought they put me in the children's theater to hone my dramatic talent, and they let me believe that.
"It wasn't until years later I realized why they had done it. I was so full of myself that none of the kids in my classes could stand me. I was so utterly alone, and I didn't even know it. I thought being your own best fan was the way all kids thought. No, my dads recognized that I was a little terror and one day I would crash when I realized that nobody could stand me. They put me in the community theater so I could be part of something bigger than myself, so I would learn to work as a part of a whole, to value the contributions of others.
"I think it worked, too. The next year in school, Kurt and Blaine were my best friends and we did everything together. I learned that being friends with them was more important than being the best singer or dancer...that theater group saved my life and I'll always be thankful for it," Rachel ended, wiping a small tear from her eye. Kurt walked over and hugged her, then Blaine leaned in to kiss her cheek. Kurt cleared his throat.
"I was so lost, and poor Dad had no idea what to do with me. After Mom died, it was like he had left me, too. He had so much grief although he tried his best to take care of me, but the day I cut off all my hair...he took me to a psychiatrist. She talked to me for a few minutes and told my dad to enroll me in soccer or some other sport, but I hated sports. So she suggested the children's theater. She thought it would make me forget myself for a while if I was pretending to be someone else.
"The first day I was so scared. I didn't want to cry, so I had my head down. Just as I thought I couldn't hold back another minute, I felt a warm hand in mine. I looked up to see the most beautiful brown hazel eyes and I knew from that moment that I wanted Blaine to be mine for the rest of my life," Kurt said, looking now into those same hazel eyes and feeling the same love.
"What brought you to the children's theater?" Finn asked Blaine.
"It was Cooper. For some reason my sixteen year old brother didn't want to spend his entire summer babysitting me," Blaine laughed ironically. "So Mom enrolled me in the theater to get rid of me. I was feeling sort of abandoned that day – Cooper was so eager to get rid of me. I understand it now, but then it hurt. When I walked into the room, I saw the most beautiful boy I'd ever laid eyes on, and I knew he needed me. I don't know why, he was looking down at the floor and was so lost. When I took his hand, he looked at me with those eyes – those liquid blue eyes that begged me to hold his hand forever," Blaine smiled at Kurt, his head cocked just a shade- the same way he'd done it all his life. Kurt squeezed his hand and Rachel put a hand on his shoulder.
"Of course, it wasn't just the two of us – a few minutes later this loud, fearless, demanding girl walked in," Kurt said, and all eyes went to Rachel.
"I was not!" she said, which earned her a giggle from all three men. She stamped her foot and they laughed louder.
"We were immediately adopted by the prettiest girl in the whole program, Miss Rachel Berry, and the three of us were inseparable from that moment on," Blaine said, giving Rachel a gentle smile.
"I have no idea what would have happened to any of us if we hadn't formed that bond," Kurt said. "So, thinking back on that summer, the summer it all started, I think this children's theater therapy is going to be an amazing thing for the children of New York. Finn, I do believe that this is the most amazing thing you've dreamed up and I know you will make a difference in the lives of so many kids," Kurt praised.
"I couldn't have done it without you guys. Our first group of children will be starting on the second of June – that's just five weeks away. I have the letters of permission from the publishers to use the plays we wanted to do, and to name the theater," he grinned at Kurt and Blaine.
"What I can't believe is that on top of this huge project, you decided to do the therapy dog part, too," Blaine said.
"I couldn't have done that without Burt. He contacted the woman that sold him Princess. She still had a few of her dogs, but hadn't trained more than a few for service dogs in the past five years. When Burt and I approached her, she was excited to be able to move here and start a therapy/service dog kennel again. I thought it would be the hardest part of the whole project, but it turned out to be the easiest," Finn explained.
There was some fussing heard and Rachel moved quickly to pull a blanket off of the baby carriage sitting a few feet away.
"Oh, honey lamb, Mommy is here. No crying, baby," she cooed, picking up a pink bundle from the carriage.
Finn held out his hands and Rachel gave him the baby, pulling up a chair and placing a small receiving blanket over her shoulder. She took the baby back and covered her with the blanket so she could feed her.
"How is Rosie's rash doing?" Blaine asked.
"Oh, she's almost over it. The doctor thinks it was caused by new laundry detergent. We switched and she cleared right up," Rachel said.
"I was right! You can't start a healthy skin routine too soon, didn't I tell you?" Kurt smirked. "Just use that almond milk and beeswax hand cream on her arms and legs to keep them moisturized, and use the special super-fatted soap for her bath. You don't want to expose her delicate skin to detergents and other things that might dry her skin," he went on. Finn rolled his eyes.
"Yes, Uncle Kurt. We listened and she is doing fine," he said, but his smile was something he couldn't hide. After being apart from his brother all through college and grad school, Finn had really missed him. This project that he had dreamed up was so perfect – he got to see and work with three major Broadway actors that just happened to be his close family.
"I think we need to set the schedule for classes, right?" Finn asked. "We will meet with the kids on Tuesdays and Thursdays, four hours a day. That's three classes and we can rotate so each class will get time with Blaine, Kurt, and Rachel. I'll help Rachel so she can have time with Rosie," Finn outlined. "I have the printout of the schedule. We got permissions from all the publishers and the fees have either been waived or a minimum paid for them. I think this is going to be one beautiful summer!"
Everyone agreed and they talked over the particulars of what to teach, which psychologists would be there and when to help, who to call in an emergency, and more talk of the business side of things.
"I have the screening process in place," Finn said.
"What screening process? Why would we turn away any child in need?" Blaine asked.
"No, what I mean is that there are scholarships for the children that need help with tuition. I have three foundations that are willing to sponsor several needy children, so that should cover the problem area we were discussing last week. I think its all going to work!"
Rachel finished feeding Rosie and buttoned up her blouse. She changed the baby and both of Rosie's uncles were sitting with their arms out, expectation in their eyes. It was always the same – Rachel was supposed to choose which one got to hold their niece first. She turned to Finn for help.
"Whose turn is it?" he asked, giving Blaine a hard stare.
"Oh...okay, it's Kurt's turn to hold her," he sighed and Princess nudged his hand with her muzzle. She hated to see her master unhappy. "Hey, its okay, girl. Uncle Kurt will give us the baby in a few minutes," he said to his dog.
Kurt was holding his niece, looking into her eyes and smiling. Her skin looked perfect, a light blush of pink over her pale skin and blue eyes looked back. Her shiny brunette hair fell in loose curls around her chubby cheeks as she focused on Kurt's face and smiled.
"How soon before she will say my name?" he asked, giving her a delicate kiss on her head, then held her close by his shoulder and patted her back.
"Babies usually say their first word at about their first birthday – and take their first step, too," Finn said, "but it can vary by a few months either way."
"Well, if she's two months now..." Kurt calculated in his head," she will be saying my name by Valentine's Day next year!"
"Unless she says 'Uncle Blaine' first..."
Kurt rolled his eyes and held her a little closer.
"Not on your life, Anderson. She will say mine first," he stated in a voice not to be argued with.
"I think we'll have to wait and see. Babies usually say Mama and Dada first you know," Finn said, looking fondly at his brother and his daughter. He was so happy that little Barbara Rose Hudson was surrounded by so much love.
After Uncle Blaine got a chance to hold her, they agreed it was time to go home. Tomorrow was another day and they had a lot to accomplish in a very little time.
Five Weeks Later
"Hurry, Kurt...we're going to be late," Blaine called down the long hallway. He was standing in front of the mirror, tying his bow tie. It might be just a bunch of kids that he was about to meet, but he was as anxious as he was on an opening night on Broadway.
"I'm on my way, just had to switch out the waistcoat. I don't want to come home to find sticky fingerprints on my raw silk vest," he said, hurrying to button his tweed suit coat.
"Right...well, I don't blame you. You look so nice, Kurt. I'm proud to call you mine," he smiled and took Kurt's hand as they walked down the stairs.
It had been a long time coming, but this was going to be the best day ever. Finn was so proud of their accomplishment. He came to New York with a dream of helping children and when this idea of a children's theater for kids facing things that most adults couldn't handle came to fruition, it was like a miracle. There were three groups of ten children for this first session. Each session lasted six weeks and they would work with the psychologists to help the children learn that they could accomplish something wonderful.
Blaine whistled for a taxi and they were on their way to the opening of the center.
A short ride to the theater and Kurt and Blaine got out a block ahead. They wanted to walk to the theater and see it for the first time all done. As they walked, hand in hand, both were lost in the memories of that year they met and all the wonderful times they had. It had given them a sense of accomplishment that had never left them. It gave them the experience of working together toward a common goal and seeing first-hand how to work as a team. No one person could have done what they did, and it was a valuable lesson to learn. The best thing was that it gave them life-long friends.
As they rounded the corner, Kurt looked up to see the front of the building. The marquee was covered with a canvas cloth and there was a crowd standing in front: parents, children, journalists with their cameramen, and the teachers and psychologists that were part of the new center.
Kurt walked closer to stand by Rachel, Blaine on his other side cooing at baby Rose. Princess put her head over the edge of the carriage, sniffing at the little baby.
When it was time to do the big unveiling, the crowd had grown and there were fans of the actors coming to see if they could get a glimpse of Kurt, Blaine, or Rachel.
The Mayor of New York was standing at the podium, microphone in hand and a genuine smile on his face. He introduced himself and spoke about the community feeling of New York, how they helped each other and when there was a job to do the citizens of this city knew how to pull it together in style. He didn't say a word about the fact that all of the major contributers were from Ohio. He introduced Finn as the leader of the Children's Theater Project. Finn walked up to the podium, his smile a mile wide on his face.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, I want to welcome you to the new children's theater which has been a dream of mine for many years. I've been lucky. Most people have a dream, but few ever see it come true in their lifetime. I had a dream, but I had the help of an entire family of people to help me make this dream come true. They shared it with me, worked tirelessly, gave unending hours and money and love to make my dream come true. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my wife, Rachel Berry," he paused as the crowd yelled and clapped, "my brother, Kurt Hummel," again a pause for applause, "and my brother, Blaine Anderson."
Finn smiled as the crowd let them know how much they were loved. Since their amazing success, Rachel, Blaine, and Kurt had been dubbed 'the first family of Broadway' – a moniker that Rachel loved, Kurt hated, and Blaine didn't pay attention to, at least on the outside. In his heart of hearts, however, it made him proud and a little bit in awe that he was grouped with Kurt's family in spite of being just his husband.
"Together we have brought this project from a sketch of an idea to something all of New York might soon be proud of, a chance to help its children - and tomorrow will be the first day. It has been a long two years to come to this. I want to thank the foundations, the companies, and all of the marvelous people who have donated their time, money, and hard work to make this possible. Thank you. Now, I'll ask my beautiful wife to do the unveiling."
Rachel came up to the podium to a new round of applause and screaming.
"Thank you, Finn. My husband forgot to thank one person, so I'll do it. Thank you to Finn Hudson, who took a kernel of an idea and brought it to New York, planted it in a few heads and shepherded it through all the days of hard work and trying times, never quitting when the work got harder, never quitting when it seemed like a lost cause. He is truly the father of this project. Let's show him our appreciation," Rachel said, standing back to clap. The crowd shouted even louder.
Rachel took the rope she was handed and pulled hard. The pulleys squeaked and the canvas covering the marquee fell. There was the picture of three little children in Winnie-the-Pooh costumes. It was of Rachel, Blaine, and Kurt holding hands, taken the same day as the one that hung in Kurt and Blaine's bedroom. It was taken during the curtain call from the last day of their play: Rachel dressed as Christopher Robin, holding Blaine's hand; Blaine as Piglet, leaning his head on Kurt's shoulder. Kurt was dressed as Winnie-the-Pooh and had his arm around Blaine, just touching Rachel's shoulder. Above it were large letters with the name of the theater:
Piglet and Pooh
Dedicated to the Children of New York
Kurt and Blaine stood close to Rachel, tears in their eyes as they basked in the applause of the crowd. They didn't know until just that moment that Finn had named it after their characters or that he was using their picture, but it was so appropriate.
After the ceremony, after the grand opening with the reporters and dignitaries, the actors/teachers went into one of the classrooms in the back of the theater to meet the thirty lucky children who would make up the first class in the theater. The children were shy, clutching onto their parents' hands or hiding behind each other, looking around at the new surroundings.
"Welcome to the Children's Theater," Finn said, smiling at the children and sitting in a low chair. He asked them to find seats and then asked each child to say their name.
When each child had the opportunity to speak, Finn introduced the actors and other staff and called the names to let each child know who their special actor/teacher would be. He asked them to follow the new teachers to the three classrooms to get acquainted.
It was a very short first meeting, the dedication had taken a lot out of the kids and it was getting on towards the dinner hour when everyone was bundled off to their homes and Finn locked up. Standing in front of the building, he smiled at his family: Rachel, Kurt, and Blaine, and thanked them all.
"I guess tomorrow is going to be a lot of fun. I think the kids were all excited about this – at least I hope so. Any questions?" Finn asked, looking around as he held his little daughter close.
"No, I think we're all ready," Kurt said, grinning. "I think this is going to be one hell of a ride, don't you?"
"Yes, I do. And I can hardly wait," Rachel said, bouncing on the balls of her feet and hugging Blaine.
"Let's go out to dinner and celebrate!" Kurt suggested and they all agreed.
Six weeks later
"It's opening night," a small girl said, tugging on Blaine's suit jacket.
"Yes, Virginia, I know. Are you nervous?" he asked her.
"No, sir, Mr. Blaine. I just...wanted to know if you were nervous the first time?" she asked, looking at him with her bright green eyes.
"I think I was, but my best friend was there to help me. He held my hand and I felt better. I think it helped him, too," Blaine told her, running his hand over her dark red curls. "Do you have a friend that you can share that with?"
"Yes. Mark and I are friends. I met him here and he helped me with my lines. You know Mark, right? He was in Mr. Kurt's class," she whispered so softly that Blaine had to lean down to hear her.
"Oh, yes, I know Mark. He's a nice boy. Its time to get ready, you look beautiful in your costume, honey. I know you will be so good tonight. The best Tinkerbell I've ever seen," he told her. Mark was two years older and was playing Peter Pan.
"Oh! I better get my wings on!" she said and ran back to the dressing rooms.
Kurt walked up.
"Its hard to believe she couldn't gather courage to say a word the first three weeks. What a difference," he said, watching as she turned the corner into the dressing room.
"And pairing her with Mark was so smart – I wonder how Finn knew that she was just what he needed to make him feel needed. This is working, exactly like Finn hoped it would," Kurt said, his pride in his brother evident.
"Let's go back and see if we can help with anything, okay?" Blaine said, giving his husband a kiss on the cheek before following him backstage.
At the therapy dog kennel
"Evelyn!" Blaine said, greeting the woman that walked towards him from the yard behind the kennels.
"Blaine, how are you today? Princess, I see you're doing fine," she said.
"Just fine. I got your message, what can I do to help?" he asked.
Evelyn Miles had moved lock, stock, and barrel to New York. She had no family left in Ohio and just when she believed that she would have to find another career, Burt Hummel had called her. She remembered him and they talked about the day he came to get a puppy to help a sad and hurt little boy. Over the years Burt had kept in contact, sending a Christmas card, sending pictures of Princess and Blaine together from high school to college to the Broadway stage. Princess had been by his side every step of the way.
"Well, when I was back in Ohio, I had a favorite Irish setter. Murphy was the best and she had a good many wonderful puppies, one of which was your Princess," she said, leaning forward to rub behind Princess' ear.
"She had a pup I kept for a brood bitch, and then there was one in the next generation. Today I still have that dog. Her name is Solo and she had a litter a few weeks ago. I know most of these puppies are going to be either therapy dogs or service dogs. There is one, though...she is big for her age, a bit on the clumsy side, but she will probably outgrow that. I know your Princess is getting on in years...twelve now, right?"
Blaine nodded, suddenly sad.
"Well, this is just an idea. I was thinking that she might want to meet this little girl and see if she gets along with her. You don't have to take her, and it might be that you want Princess to live her life without the bother of a puppy. It depends on the dog, you know. It might make her happy to have a companion.'
"I...I never thought about getting another dog. Princess has been the only dog for me, Evelyn. I don't know...and I don't really need a service dog any more. I'm so much better, thanks mostly to Princess and Kurt. Can we maybe meet this pup and then I can think about it?" Blaine asked.
"Whatever you want to do, Blaine. Its just a suggestion," she said, leading them back to one of the dog pens.
Princess walked beside Blaine, sniffing but staying at heel. They went inside the yard and Evelyn went to get the pup. She set it down on the grass and Blaine thought about the first day he saw Princess. He closed his eyes and the memories flooded back: the playful puppy rolling in the grass as she chased a ball, the first time she saw snow, the horrible days when he was so scared he couldn't move or speak when Princess came and leaned into him to give him comfort. It was a long time to have such a good friend and he didn't want to think of the day she might not be with him any more.
Princess was sitting beside him, but got up to inspect the little rascal that was prancing along the edge of the grass. The puppy rolled over and Princess sniffed her, wagging her tail. She lowered her shoulders and wagged her tail some more, coaxing the pup to play. By the time ten minutes had passed, Princess and the little puppy had become fast friends. They were running across the yard, Princess holding a ball just out of reach of the stumbling pup. She stopped and let the pup get a hold of it, then yanked it back, running a few steps as the puppy followed.
"Well, that went better than I thought it would," Blaine said.
"Its up to you, Blaine. She's yours if you want her. Go home and sleep on it, get back to me when you decide. I'm in no hurry," Evelyn said, patting the man's shoulder.
Blaine smiled back at her, then called Princess to his side.
"I'll call you before the weekend for sure. And thank you," he told Evelyn.
Back at Kurt & Blaine's house
"I just don't know...Princess seemed happy with it, but..." Blaine said, leaning back against Kurt. "She was entertained for the ten minutes we were there, but how long would that last? She sleeps a lot and I'm worried a puppy would just become an annoyance to her. I'm not sure I want to risk it."
"I will agree to whatever you decide, Babe, but I think it has to be your decision. Princess is a part of the family. However, she is really your dog. I'm wondering if she can still do her job with the distraction of a pup to play with. Which asks the deeper question..." Kurt moved his husband, turning him to see his face. "You know what I'm going to ask, right?"
Blaine nodded his head. He knew it would come to this, whether he felt that he still needed Princess – which meant was he completely well. He'd been asking himself this same question for months.
"I...I don't really know. I've been in need of Princess and the anti-anxiety drugs and the anti-depression drugs for so long, I don't know if I need them or not now. I haven't had a panic attack in over two years and while I sometimes feel funny in crowds or walking alone in the city, it isn't something that feels overwhelming. I can stop and think for a moment and get through it just fine. Do you see a difference?"
"Yes, but I'm not you. I know we have a deeper connection that most of the couples we've known – maybe because of the time we've spent together? Maybe we are just soulmates," Kurt grinned. Rachel was always telling them they were soulmates. Kurt said she watched too much Dawson's Creek when she was younger, but if the truth were known, he believed it.
"That being said, Blaine, I don't think I'm the one with the answers here. I think its something you need to see Dr. Fisher about," Kurt said, referring to Blaine's psychiatrist.
"Yeah, you're right. I have a session with her next week. You know she's only going to ask me what I think, don't you?" he said in a melancholy voice.
Kurt shifted so he could pull Blaine up onto his lap and hug him closer.
"Yes, baby, I do. Maybe you need to think about it. I know you said she has started weaning you off of the stronger medications over the last year. Do you think its time to get off of them all together?" Kurt asked.
"I've thought that for a long time. My dosages are so small now – I don't have any of the side effects any more, not like when I first took them as a kid. I'd like to be off of them all together," he sighed. "But she hasn't said that was a choice yet. I thought of just stopping by myself..."
Kurt took in a deep breath. "No...you know how dangerous that can be. These drugs are nothing to mess around with. Please don't do that!" Kurt hugged Blaine tighter, afraid for him.
"I won't. Feeling like I want to and actually doing it are two different things. Remember the time I stopped taking them when we were in high school?" Blaine asked.
"Unfortunately. You were in the hospital for three days. Don't screw around with this. Tell Dr. Fisher how you feel and see what she says," Kurt begged.
"I learned my lesson, don't worry. Can you come with me? I hate to ask, but I'd feel better if you came," Blaine asked. Kurt usually accompanied him to his appointments with the psychiatrist, but waited outside with Princess.
"Sure, baby, I'll come with you," he agreed, kissing his husband's cheek. "Now, let's get to bed. Morning starts early."
"Okay, I have the schedule written down here on your calendar, Blaine. She said this will take two months, right?" Kurt asked as they sat in their office in the room next to their bedroom.
"Yes. I need to get the prescriptions filled for the drugs to take in an emergency, but it looks like I'll be drug-free for the first time since I was a kid. Do you know how happy that makes me?" Blaine crowed. He was thrilled to be off of the medication. It had served a definite purpose, and he was glad to have it when he'd been such an emotional mess years ago, but it was time to be on his own.
"You know, Kurt, that I could never have done this without you. You are my life..." Blaine said, tears welling up in his eyes.
"I love you. What else could I do?" Kurt answered, his eyes stinging as he tried to stop his own tears.
Blaine leaned forward, his arms out to hug his husband. They ended up on the floor, giggling in each other's arms, the emotions so overwhelming they had to do something.
"I love you, too, Kurt."
Princess wagged her tail, coming over to join in the play and both men hugged her.
"Finn!" Kurt and Blaine both smiled when their brother entered the room. They were getting ready for the next session of the Children's Theater. Blaine, Kurt, and Rachel had done the first group of kids and now there were more volunteers to help teach the acting classes.
"Hey, guys. I just wanted to call a meeting to tell you who has signed up for the next session. You knew Matt was on board, right?" Both men nodded. "Well, I also got Neil and Jane. We will be able to have another thirty kids this time." Finn grinned. He had taken on the theater as a half-time position and was counseling the other half. He was happy to be able to help so many lost and hurting kids, to make a difference in their lives.
Rachel came in, carrying her daughter – who held out her hands towards her uncles.
"Come here, my sweet Rose," Kurt cooed at the little girl. She was not even six months old and had her uncles wrapped around her little finger.
"She was asking for me!" Blaine said, holding his own hands out. Rachel looked at her husband and Finn rolled his eyes.
"Okay, who had her first last time?" he said, like he did just about every time they were with Rosie.
"Blaine did. Come here, little one," Kurt cooed, taking the pink bundle from Rachel. He sat the girl in his lap, kissed her forehead and hummed a song to her. She looked up at him with her big blue eyes and smiled. Her dark silky hair was getting longer, curling around her chubby cheeks and highlighting her pale complexion. She looked like Rachel, but her attitude was all Finn.
"We are both starting new plays within the month," Blaine continued, "but they are limited engagements. Kurt and I are taking vacation at the end of next month – we're going to be gone for five weeks, then we can rotate back into the Children's Theater as acting teachers again."
"That's wonderful," Finn smiled. "You know you have both given so much, I wouldn't expect any more. I do have a long list of Broadway actors signed up for the future, but you are more than welcome," he smiled.
"We love it. The kids are always so great, even the challenging ones," Kurt rolled his eyes. He'd had one doozey of a challenge with two kids the last session, but he handled them with Finn's help and ended up proud of the kids. Rachel laughed, knowing just who he was referring to.
Kurt hugged Rosie for a moment, then sniffed and blinked his eyes.
"Okay, baby girl, do you want to go visit Uncle Blaine now?" he asked, holding her out to his husband. Blaine grinned and took the baby, sitting her on his lap for a second before he smelled why Kurt was so eager to share. Giving Kurt a dirty look, he stood up and brought the baby back to her mother. Rachel laughed and took her, leaving the room with the diaper bag.
"I'm going to remember this, Uncle Kurt and Uncle Blaine, so I know next time she will go to her daddy instead," she said, leaving the room to change Rosie.
Kurt and Blaine glared at each other, Finn laughed.
"Next, I wanted to ask you if you want to go with me to Evelyn's today. Stephanie is going to get her service dog today and I thought you might want to be there?" he asked.
"We'd love to!" Blaine said after getting a nod from Kurt.
They drove up to the kennel a few minutes early, but Stephanie and her father were already there. Stephanie was six years old and had been one of the kids in the first Children's Theater play. She had been in a bad car accident with her mother when they had been hit by a drunk driver. Her mother was killed and Stephanie had lost her left leg. She had not wanted to talk and it had been a year now. Finn had been working with her and she was coming out of her shell, but he thought a service dog would give her more confidence.
"Hello, you must be Stephanie," Evelyn said, kneeling down to speak to the small girl. Steph looked up at her daddy and Finn, scared to say anything. She had talked about getting the dog and all the things she would need to do to help in its care, but actually being here was frightening. She looked behind her at Blaine. During her session at the theater, she had learned that Princess was Blaine's service dog and she wanted one of her own, she was just shy.
"Would you like to meet the dog now?" Evelyn asked.
Stephanie nodded her head and reached for her father's hand. They walked slowly behind Evelyn to the yard in back of the kennels, passing dog runs with various dogs in them: golden retrievers, collies, Cairn terriers, and many more. Her eyes were huge, not afraid of the dogs but wondering what hers would look like. She had whispered to Blaine that she wanted one just like Princess, but she hadn't been brave enough to tell her daddy that.
"Okay, here we are. If you would all like to sit down on the grass, I'll bring Stephanie's pup out," the woman said, going down another row of dog runs.
Stephanie sat next to Blaine and her daddy, watching the gate to see her new dog. She was trembling just a bit and her father pulled her into a hug and kissed her hair.
"Its okay, baby girl, this will be fine," he said.
The gate swung open and a puppy ran through, stopping suddenly when she saw the people seated on the grass. Her tail started to wag and she sniffed the air.
"Sit," Evelyn said and the pup plopped her butt down. She looked around, but stayed where she was. "Walk slow," the woman said and the pup got up and walked slowly up to the group of people. She sniffed and went right to Stephanie, her tail wagging. Stephanie smiled and put out her hand, giggling when the puppy licked it.
"You can name her whatever you want, Stephanie. Do you like her?"
"Oh, yes..." the girl said, petting the silky red fur and running her hand down the long ears. "She's just like Princess, isn't she?"
"Yes. This breed of dog is called an Irish setter. Just like Princess," Evelyn confirmed.
"Can I take her home?"
"Of course, she's yours," Evelyn said, smiling. She loved this part of her work.
Stephanie got up and began her stumbling sort of run, the pup right along beside her as she giggled again. She sat down a ways away and the pup sat next to her.
"I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship," Kurt said and everyone laughed.
"Well, Blaine, you picked the right dog for her I think," Stephanie's dad said.
"I was sorry you decided not to take her yourself, but now I think you were right – this may be a perfect fit," Evelyn told him, patting him on the shoulder. Blaine wiped away tears, but smiled back at her. Kurt put his arms around Blaine's waist as they watched the little girl seem to forget her prosthetic leg and her fears as she played with the puppy in the yard. They sat for a while, watching her.
"If you'll come with me to the office, I'll get you her service vest, leash, and the papers to sign," Evelyn said to the girl's father.
"Sure, you guys don't mind waiting with my daughter?"
"No, we'll stay until you came back," Finn said.
"I think you made the right decision, Babe. Look at her," Kurt said, watching the girl.
"I've never seen her forget herself this way in the year I've been treating her," Finn said, a huge grin on his face. "Thanks, Blaine, for telling me about this puppy. I think you have made all the difference to Stephanie."
Just then, Stephanie came back, sitting close to the men on the grass.
"Mr. Blaine? I know her name now. Since she looks like Princess, I want to name her Cinderella!" the little girl said, smiling at Blaine.
"I think that is a wonderful name. Maybe call her Cindy for short?" he suggested. Stephanie grinned.
Several months later, in Ohio
Kurt and Blaine sat on a quilt in the middle of their walled garden. Princess was walking around by the roses and sniffing to find squirrels.
"I am so happy you gave me this garden, Babe. It is the perfect place to come and relax. I wish we could have been here for the lilacs, but the late summer flowers are just as beautiful," Kurt said, lying back on the quilt to look at Blaine.
"I'm glad you like it. I do have to admit it was a bit on the selfish side, though. I love it, too. So many memories go with this place," he said, turning and lying down, partly over Kurt so he could kiss him. Kurt reached up her arms and put them around his husband's neck.
"Come here, you," he said, then kissed Blaine – just the brush of his lips to begin with, but that led to pressing closer and deeper. Before they knew it the kiss had become lustful and brought sighs and moans with it.
"Oh, Blaine...I love you so much. I can say that a million times and it never can let you know just how much I love you," Kurt sighed.
"I know, baby. I feel the same. Living with you, sharing my life with you? What could ever be better?" Blaine said as he laid back, looking at the clouds as they moved across the blue sky.
"Its been one hell of a life together so far, though, don't you think?" Kurt asked, turning his head to look at Blaine.
"It has. I mean, I knew the first day I met you that you were going to turn my world upside-down, but I could never have envisioned all of this," he smiled.
"Do you think grandma knew we would end up together?" Kurt asked.
"I don't know. She died when we were...nine? Then probably not. But I bet she knew we would be friends forever. Remember when she taught us to cook?" Blaine asked.
"Yeah. And it was so hard to walk into that kitchen again after – until you and Cooper redecorated it. That was one of the nicest things you ever did for me," Kurt said, smiling at Blaine.
"Did you know back then that we'd be together now?"
"I knew we belonged together from the start, if that's what you mean. Look at all the things we went through together! Hey, remember when you stole away on the bus to camp?" Kurt giggled and Blaine looked at him.
"That luggage compartment was NOT comfortable. I was scared I would suffocate and I even pounded on the wall, trying to get someone's attention during the ride, but nobody heard me. I guess someone up there was looking out for me?" he said, a sort of questioning look on his face.
"In that case, I'm sorry you came – I'm sorry you had to endure that. I was so happy you were there, though. I felt lost without you," Kurt said, sighing.
"I remember the look on your face when I came into the cabin!"
"Well, you did have your hand over my mouth and woke me from a sound sleep," Kurt defended himself. "Remember the horses?"
"Yeah...Trent taught us how to ride since his dad had polo ponies. Wow, its weird to think we've known him that long," Blaine said, then a sad look came over his face.
"I'm glad he and Seb are married now. He is almost like he was as a kid, don't you think?" Kurt commented, looking at Blaine to see if he seemed upset. There had been a time that the very mention of Trent's name upset him, and now that Blaine was off of all his medicine, Kurt worried.
"I do. He looks happy again. When he and Seb dropped us off at the airport, he hugged me for the first time since...well, since the incident. It felt good actually. I forgave him a long time ago, Kurt, so stop worrying."
"I wonder what went wrong with him to make him attack you that night? I mean, we were such good friends at camp – he was the first one to bring you food and offer his help. Then at Dalton, I thought we were still good friends. It never made sense to me," Kurt wondered.
"I don't think we'll ever know. My mom was friends with Trent's dad, they did a bunch of business deals. Birds of a feather, I guess. Maybe his dad warped him the way my mother did to me. Of course, hers was mostly neglect, but who knows what Trent went through as a kid?" Blaine said.
"When did you last hear from your mom?" Kurt asked. He and Blaine shared everything, but Kurt knew that sometimes Blaine failed to mention his mother. He didn't really blame his husband for that, his mother hadn't been in his life for years.
"Dad called last week, you know," Blaine looked over at Kurt and took his hand, lacing their fingers together. Kurt nodded.
"He said she was still in Germany, probably taking over another company or putting serfs out in the cold to starve or something. She hasn't contacted me since she sent us that check for the wedding," Blaine said in a neutral voice.
"It was a check for $50,000, Blaine," Kurt said.
"Yeah, but you know as well as I do that she probably gave more than that to the gardener as a Christmas bonus. I doubt it was something from her heart," Blaine said. "Let's talk about something better."
"Okay. Remember our road trip?" Kurt giggled, rolling around and holding his stomach. "And when you found the pamphlets that Dad gave me?"
"Oh, my stars, Kurt...how on earth did Burt hold his tongue for so long? We were so in love with each other, and he knew it. I came out to him and so did you, but we were both so shy and scared."
"I miss those days when we were so innocent." Kurt sounded sad and Blaine cuddled him closer.
"I know. I think, though, if we had to grow up, we were lucky to have each other," Blaine tried to make Kurt smile again. It worked and Kurt kissed his cheek in thanks.
"That week, when we were so young and it seemed like the whole world was open to us. I was so in love with you, baby, and so afraid you'd hate me if you found out. I don't know why it never crossed either of our minds that we were more alike than we thought," Blaine continued.
"It turned out all right in the end, though," Kurt said, "Then when we got together and we tried to keep it from Dad?" he laughed. Blaine laughed, too. Burt was a lot smarter than the boys had given him credit.
"I doubt he was fooled for a single minute. He is one person that knows how to keep his mouth shut, though. Remember when we caught him kissing Carole in the alcove at the hospital?" Blaine added, rolling his eyes in imitation of his husband.
"I have never seen him turn so red. We teased him all the way home."
"He didn't let us slow him down, though. They were married less than a year later," Kurt smirked. "I'm so happy she is doing well in the physical therapy."
"Wasn't that something!"
"Okay, I honestly never thought she would be able to get out of the wheelchair, but seeing her walking again...wow. I was over the moon," Kurt gushed, thinking of his step-mother's progress since she was diagnosed with MS.
"Good things really do happen to good people sometimes," Blaine whispered, coming close to nuzzle Kurt's neck. Kurt hummed his pleasure and tightened his arm around Blaine's back.
"Well, I know that to be true, my love, because I have you," Kurt whispered back.
"And I have you." Blaine kissed down Kurt's neck.
"Do you know what this reminds me of?" Blaine asked.
"This garden?" Kurt asked and Blaine nodded. "Yes. Lots of amazing memories, baby. I bet you know my favorite," he said into Blaine's hair.
"Only because its my favorite, too," Blaine answered, unbuttoning Kurt's shirt. It wasn't long at all before the two were lounging on the quilt, naked to the fresh air and forgetting everything but each other.
Fingers found their way to favorite places, kisses covered warm skin, and Blaine and Kurt made love in their private garden. Their dreams had come true after all, and in spite of all the trials and tribulations they had over the years, they managed to hold on to each other and to stay together, and live the life they had dreamed of all those years ago.
As the sun set and the breeze grew cooler, they dressed once again and sat holding each other, Princess sitting beside them.
"I love you, Piglet."
"And I love you, too, Pooh-Bear."