Notes: Upon rewatch I realized this fic doesn't entirely gel with the timeline presented in 2x10, but whatever, it was a cracky premise anyway.
It felt like Kurt had scarcely entered Dalton before he was going back to Lima for winter break. The semester had been nearly over when he transfered, and if not for Karofsky they simply would have held off until the spring semester began.
Then again, if not for Karofsky, he wouldn't be there at all.
Kurt was looking forward to going home. He could have a proper conversation about his transfer with Mercedes, Finn... everyone he needed to. There was also the matter of his room that he needed to attend to. Now that he was going to Dalton Academy thirty-six weeks a year, his parents had held off on buying a new, three-bedroom house. Which put the basement in this nebulous category where it was theoretically Finn's, but everything from the thousand thread-count sheets to the closet full of designer labels belonged to Kurt. He was planning to tell Finn to feel free to redecorate (his way); in fact, he would encourage it. Finn just wasn't the type of guy that could keep an all-white room clean.
He was trying to decide what to do with his wardrobe when Blaine entered the vicinity, spotted him, smiled, and made a beeline for him, efficiently chasing all other thoughts out of Kurt's head.
"Hey," Blaine said, dropping down beside him although the bench was a fairly long one. That was a good sign, right?
Kurt reminded himself that he'd thought a dye job was a green light. Above all, the goal was to not freak Blaine out.
"Guess where I'm spending Christmas," Blaine said, turning up the wattage on his grin.
Blaine had never told Kurt what his parents actually did, but every time he talked about them they seemed to be on a different continent. "Somewhere exciting, no doubt."
Blaine beamed at him. "I'm staying with my cousin. In Lima."
Kurt turned to stare at Blaine full in the face.
Blaine looked immensely pleased with his stunned expression and bumped their shoulders together. "So we can hang out. I know this equestrian farm where they do sleigh rides."
Seriously, this couldn't be just fervent wishing on his part, could it?
The warmth spreading through Kurt was suddenly combatted by wafting cold air; the door at the entrance had been thrown open and in marched... Coach Sylvester?
Kurt went from bewildered to full of dread—had something gone wrong with his transfer?—and straight back to bewildered when Blaine hopped off of the bench and gave her a hug.
"Sue!" Blaine greeted cheerfully.
"Tweety," Sue returned the greeting and the hug, looking at Kurt over Blaine's head. "Hello, Porcelain. How do you like it here, on a scale of Dead Poets Society to A Separate Peace?"
Kurt finally regained the presence of mind to stop gaping at them. "What?"
Sue and Blaine broke apart, though Blaine stayed by her side and she kept a hand on his shoulder. "Thanks for helping out with the enrollment, Sue."
"Better get in the car; this place doesn't have reserved parking, so I took all three of the handicapped spots."
Blaine gave Kurt a jaunty wave and a parting smile, and then he was heading for the exit. Sue stepped closer, briskly shook Kurt's hand, then spun on her heel and marched out.
Kurt looked down at his hand. Sue had surreptitiously handed him a slip of paper with a phone number on it.
He didn't call the number until after he'd returned home, had dinner, and flipped a coin with Finn to see who would get the bed the first night, with the agreement they would switch nights on the couch for the next two weeks. Locked in the bathroom, ostensibly to do his nightly rituals, Kurt pulled out his phone and dialed the number after spending all day preparing himself for what might be on the other line.
Whatever he had been dreading, it hadn't been, "Birdfarm Superstore, John speaking. When did the canary expire?"
"What?" Kurt asked, confused and a little creeped out. "How do you know about Pavarotti?"
"Because this is the private line for Dalton Academy?" John said sarcastically. At Kurt's silence he sighed and said, "Look, kid, 'Pavarotti' has made his triumphant musical return, so to speak, about a dozen times now. Just relax and don't say anything to anyone, they're all very dedicated to perpetuating the illusion. Now, we can have a new canary smuggled into the school at any time with the utmost discretion."
"I don't need a new canary," Kurt said.
"Then what are you wasting my time for?" John grumbled, and hung up on him.
Kurt stayed up long after Finn dropped off to sleep, his gentle snoring from the couch background noise while Kurt tossed in bed.
Blaine Sylvester. He had fallen in love with the cousin of the infamous cheerleading coach, local celebrity, and budding supervillain.
If there was one thing absolutely true about Sue Sylvester, it was that she would do anything to win.
What if that was a family trait?
If it was true, it made Blaine so much worse than a Jesse 2.0. Jesse had uprooted his own life to infiltrate New Directions and get to Rachel. Blaine had gotten Kurt to uproot his life, stealing part of the competition for their own rather than simply trying to crush it.
Get a grip, Hummel, Kurt ordered himself irritably. He was being ridiculous. He was starting to sound like Rachel. He hadn't transfered because of Blaine, he'd transfered because things had gotten so bad with Karofsky.
But things had only escalated with Karofsky after he'd followed Blaine's advice. After he'd confronted him, and then done it again, when the first time had been so disastrous.
Kurt thought he might throw up.
No, he wouldn't believe it. It wouldn't be fair, to hold Blaine accountable for things Sue did. He was practically Sue's polar opposite; that level of manipulation wasn't like him, and honestly, it wasn't like Sue, either. There was no denying that Sue was incredibly manipulative, but everyone knew what she was like. She made no secret of her motives; she didn't pretend to be what she wasn't. Kurt had to believe Blaine was the same way.
Blaine called him two days later, obviously holding off to give his first day back home to Kurt's family and McKinley friends.
"So," he said cheerfully when Kurt picked up, "sleigh ride?"
When he arrived at the farm, something occurred to him that he had never put together before: Blaine's Dalton uniform was his track suit. He'd thought, all of those time they got together, that Blaine simply hadn't had the time to change—it was a considerable drive from Westerville to Lima, after all—but it was now dawning on Kurt that he'd never seen Blaine out of his uniform because he wore nothing but his uniform. Plus extraneous pieces that Kurt was sure Blaine had ordered specialty out of some sort of uniform catalogue. Today, it was a Dalton Academy coat, as well as a Dalton Academy tuque and a red and blue striped scarf. He probably even wore Dalton Academy underwear.
Kurt sternly ordered himself to stop thinking about Blaine's underwear.
Blaine stretched out a hand to help him up into the sleigh, and then they were pressed thigh-to-thigh as the driver started the horse through the lightly snow covered fields and, seriously, how was this anything other than a romantic couple's outing?
On the other side of the field Kurt spotted a sleigh filled with little kids. He stopped leaning into Blaine so much.
"So," Kurt said, "you're Coach Sylvester's cousin. That's... surprising," was the adjective he finally settled on.
"Yeah, Uncle Matt was about a decade older than Dad, and my parents had me pretty late. But thirty's not that much older than seventeen," Blaine shrugged.
Sue being thirty would never stop surprising Kurt.
Having older parents explained some things, however. Like the pocket watch, and suggesting spending a day of their vacation taking a sleigh ride rather than watching TV or going to the mall.
"What's it like staying with her?" Kurt couldn't imagine how that could be pleasant, but Blaine had seemed to actually like Sue.
"Regimented," Blaine grinned. "It's good though, it makes Dalton seem lax by comparison. Enjoying being home?"
They spent the rest of the ride talking about Kurt. It started to snow, big fat flakes that melted on their clothes, and when the ride was over they unanimously decided to go into the inn to buy overpriced cider and warm up by the fire.
"The hat's soaked," Kurt declared, studying it over the top of his mug. "You should take it off." Blaine hesitated, and Kurt asked, "What?"
"Sue won't let me use hair gel while I stay at her house," Blaine confided.
"So it was either a hat or a paper bag."
"It can't be that bad."
"Unfortunate hair runs in our family, I think."
Kurt grinned and put the mug down on the brick hearth between them. "Now I have to see."
"I did warn you," Blaine cautioned, slowly pulling off the hat.
His hair was really curly, Kurt observed; it was the only part of him that wasn't fastidiously neat. Some of it was wet and still pressed down against his head, but here and there ringlets had sprung up.
Blaine winced. "I told you."
"No." Kurt cleared his throat, picked up his mug, and burned his mouth on his cider. "I like it."
Kurt didn't see him the day after that; Blaine, it seemed, was making a conscious effort to not encroach on Mercedes' BFF time, and even kept texting to a minimum. A wise choice, considering that Kurt now saw Blaine every day and primarily communicated with his McKinley friends via Facebook. Mercedes would not tolerate any rain checks now that he was in town.
Gossiping about Blaine, however, was encouraged.
"I don't know how someone like that can share DNA with Coach Sylvester," Mercedes said, shaking her head. They were over at her house, White Christmas playing in the background while they talked, only shutting up to watch the musical numbers. "I hope that's not what you have to look forward to in ten years."
Kurt shuddered. "Don't even joke about that."
Mercedes' expression turned thoughtful. "I wonder if he knew about you before you went to Dalton to spy."
"What do you mean by that?" Kurt asked, a little too quickly.
"You were a Cheerio, he's Sue's cousin, it's likely he saw you at Nationals last year."
Where he would have seen him sing a fifteen minute Celine Dion medley in French. A performance suitably impressive enough to give them the edge at Nationals. (Every year, the other teams tried to match what had made Sue win the year before, and things like confetti cannons and stilts were downright commonplace. This year, the rumor was Sue was working in a trapeze act.) A performance suitably impressive enough to make him decide he needed him if he wanted to win...?
Stop it, Kurt commanded himself angrily. This level of paranoia and conceit was much more suited for Rachel's inner musings, and this was Blaine, not some mustache-twirling villain.
But when Mercedes dropped him off at home the next morning, he opened up google on a whim and searched "Kings Island Christmas Spectacular."
There was no such thing.
There had been a Winterfest that ran from 1982 to 1992, briefly revived in 2005, but that was all.
Blaine invited Kurt to a karaoke bar and restaurant. (Kurt had no idea how Blaine found these places.) They monopolized the machine for two hours, with dinner in between, and sang a bunch of non-demoninational Christmas songs. They finished the evening with "Baby It's Cold Outside," which Blaine selected with a sly wink to Kurt.
It was sort of depressing Kurt that he could still enjoy Blaine's company so much, even knowing he was lying to him.
"So," Kurt said, adjusting his scarf before they left the relative warmth of the inside of the restaurant, "when is the Christmas Spectacular?"
"Hmm?" Blaine looked up from the (Dalton Academy) gloves he'd been pulling on. "Oh. Thursday and Friday—twenty-third and twenty-forth."
"I'd love to be able to see it," Kurt said casually, buttoning up his coat.
Blaine's expression froze for a minute, and then he grinned at him and said, "I'll see about getting tickets."
Kurt didn't hear from Blaine at all the next day, which was surprising only because he had expected Blaine to text him and tell him tickets were sold out, or something. He had not expected Blaine to produce enough tickets on Thursday morning for the entirety of his family and New Directions to attend, Lauren Zizes included, give him a flirty smile, and say, "See you there."
Kurt went. His parents and New Directions went with him. There was a train ride, and a parade, and Santa land, and ice skating, and an enclosure of real reindeer for petting—and, near the Grand Carousel, Blaine chased a girl around the temporarily erected stage with the impassioned plea that it was "cold outside."
Kurt felt like a spectacular douchebag.
When Blaine was done with his performance, he sought Kurt out and formally met the rest of New Directions. He greeted Mercedes with genuine enthusiasm and he made a specific point to engage Finn in small talk. He was a model of wholesomeness and respectfulness when Kurt introduced him to his dad and Carole.
He was practically perfect in every way.
"I'm glad you came," Blaine said, as the day started to wind down.
Kurt forced a smile. "Me, too."
Which didn't fool Blaine. "Is something wrong?"
"No, no," Kurt denied.
Blaine threw his arm around Kurt and gave him a side hug. "Miss your old Glee Club?"
Kurt seized on the excuse, which also happened to be true. "Yes."
"I can see why, they seem like fun people."
"Most of them are assholes," Kurt said with a fond, wistful smile.
"Give it time," Blaine said. "The Warblers can be assholes too."
Kurt laughed. "But not you."
Blaine mock-pouted at him. "You don't think I can be an asshole?"
Kurt knew he was supposed to keep up the banter, but Blaine's lips were very distracting.
Rachel bounded up to them. "Festivus party at my house! Come on, we're going to order Chinese takeout."
Mike perked up, attention piqued, and Tina sighed.
"I've got a few more performances to go," Blaine said regretfully.
"And miss the Airing of Grievances? With this group? Poor you," Kurt said sarcastically.
Blaine grinned, gave his shoulder a squeeze, and released him. "I'll see you later."
Christmas Eve and Day were spent with the family, and he met up with Mercedes after church Sunday and they spent the rest of the day together.
He called Blaine Monday to see if he was free, and Blaine cheerfully told him to come over.
"To Coach Sylvester's house?" Kurt asked dubiously.
"Sure, I'll text you the address." Kurt hesitated and after a couple moments of silence, Blaine laughed. "Relax, Kurt, Sue knows you. Her attack dogs won't get you."
"Kidding. Sue hates animals."
Despite Kurt's incredible misgivings, he found himself on Sue's doorstep, ringing the doorbell. A maid let him in, took one look at him, and wordlessly pointed him in the direction of Blaine with a very knowing look on her face before she went back to dusting.
It looked like it was a full-time job around here. Knowing Sue he probably should have been prepared to see every flat service covered with towering gold trophies, but he hadn't.
The kitchen, on the other hand, was covered with racks of sugar cookies. Blaine was in the middle of mixing frosting. (Wearing a Dalton Academy apron.)
Kurt raised an eyebrow. "Munchies?"
Blaine laughed. "Sue would have my balls." He waved the spatula around to indicate the cookies. "They're for Jean, since Sue stopped eating solid food a decade or so ago."
Kurt winced at the memory of Sue's Cheerio diets.
Blaine gave him a brilliant smile. "Want to help me frost them?"
Blaine decorated cookies like Martha Stewart was breathing down the back of his neck. Kurt spent more time paying attention to the way Blaine's forehead knotted up in concentration than what a mess he was making of the cookies.
"So where's Coach Sylvester?"
"Seeing about buying four dozen unicycles and a tightrope for Nationals," Blaine said. He shot Kurt a grin. "Don't spread that around, McKinley's routine is supposed to treated with the utmost secrecy. I would be hanged, drawn, and quartered, and the only reason she'd let me off so light is because I'm family."
Kurt frowned slightly down at his cookie, adding another glob of frosting ruffles to the shirt. "Did you know me?"
"What do you mean?"
"Did you know I was a Cheerio?"
Blaine was silent for a moment. Kurt looked up.
"Well," Blaine allowed. "I knew of you."
"You really were a terrible spy," he continued; grinning, nudging Kurt's arm with his elbow, inviting him into the joke. Kurt smiled briefly back at him, and Blaine put down his tube of frosting and untied his apron.
"I'm hungry," he declared. "Let's go get some sandwiches or something."
Thirty minutes later they were sitting in the mall eating lunch, and Blaine asked if he'd gotten anything good for Christmas.
"Tuition," Kurt said, and Blaine nodded quickly in an "oh of course" sort of way.
"I should have gotten you something," Kurt realized suddenly. He'd done all of his shopping before they'd met, and between the wedding, transferring, and Sectionals, it had slipped his mind.
"I didn't get you anything, either."
"You paid for that sleigh ride."
"You bought this sandwich," Blaine countered. Kurt raised an eyebrow at him, and Blaine took a large bite and made an exaggerated show of chewing it. "Mmm, sweet mastication."
Kurt snorted and Blaine smiled radiantly.
"What about you? Other than the sandwich."
"Sue's gift is a close second."
Kurt gave him an inquiring look and Blaine reached into his Dalton Academy tote bag. "My old journal was full, so she bought me a new one," he said, passing it to Kurt.
Kurt recognized the make; he'd seen Sue's leather-bound journal resting on her desk a few of the times he'd been in her office. Except this one had "BLAINE'S JOURNAL" stamped on the front in gold, and the cover was pink.
Kurt looked over at Blaine, who shrugged a little helplessly. "Well, you know Sue."
"I didn't know you kept a journal."
"I mostly just use it to keep track of my homework."
Kurt flipped the front cover open. The pages were all blank, except for the first one. "THE CHAMPIONS DNA" was laid out at the top of the page, accompanied with several gold stars and rainbow stickers, and pasted down the rest of the page were one or two-word phrases clipped from different sources, like "confidence," "triumph," "strong," "firework," etc.
Kurt was starting to get where that "courage" thing of his had come from.
"Nice of her," Kurt finally said, handing the journal back over. Blaine smiled and tucked it in his bag.
"Sue's always had my back."
Kurt studied him out of the corner of his eye. "...Blaine, did you kill your canary when you first joined the Warblers?"
"What? No." Blaine looked baffled, then concerned. "Did something happen to Pavarotti?"
"No, he's fine," Kurt said. He took a bite out of his sandwich and chewed thoughtfully.
Kurt kept trying to tell himself that he was being crazy. So what if Blaine had known him by sight before he'd stopped him on the stairs? So what if Sue had a history of helping out her little cousin? So what if it had been almost impossibly easy to transfer to Dalton two week before winter break? And Blaine had thanked Sue for helping make that possible? And Sue wanted to destroy New Directions and Blaine wanted the Warblers to succeed? It didn't necessarily mean they'd conspired to get him to transfer for nefarious reasons, by nefarious means.
But Kurt couldn't shake the feeling that Blaine wasn't being honest with him.
And he hated to think that it was an act, because he loved the act. He loved the cider, and the karaoke, and the jokes, and... just everything.
Kurt wasn't proud of himself for this, but when they got back to Sue's place and Blaine started to put the cookies in tupperware, Kurt feigned having to go to the bathroom, went through Blaine's things, found his old (purple) journal, and flipped it open toward the back.
The first thing he noted was that Blaine did not use these to keep track of his homework. The second was:
and Operation: Prince Charming is continuing to progress promisingly
This time Kurt actually did throw up. Blaine was there in about thirty seconds, warm hand rubbing soothingly at the space between his shoulder blades while he crouched over the toilet. "Kurt! Are you okay? Bad sandwich?"
"I need to go home," Kurt mumbled. He stood up, which made Blaine drop his hand, and then he stood up too.
"Yeah, okay," he said, looking worried.
Kurt ignored Blaine's texts for the rest of the week, throwing himself into parties with various combinations of his former teammates and some quality time with his dad, soaking up as much of their honest company that he could before he had to go back to Dalton.
Because he had to. Going back to McKinley just wasn't an option. He wasn't afraid of Blaine the way he was of Karofsky, he was just... furious.
They didn't have any classes together. Kurt couldn't avoid him altogether, living at the same school, but he could drastically limit their contact with one another. He'd quit the Warblers, of course. Maybe he'd join Dalton's drama program; they put on musicals sometimes, and it seemed to have a higher concentration of gay guys.
The New Year's Eve party was at Sam's house, where Kurt learned two new things about him: he was the richest member of New Directions, and he was easily taken in by people who responded to his ridiculous "Sam I am" greeting with, "Could you, would you, on a train," and then proceeded to go on the Kings Island train ride with him.
In other words, Blaine had been invited to the party.
Kurt managed to subtly avoid Blaine's attempts to corner him for over an hour, but then he made the mistake of not accompanying Mercedes to the bathroom. The next thing he knew, Blaine had him by the elbow and was speedily leading him outside to the porch.
It was a large porch, still decorated with Christmas lights and obviously used for entertaining, but it was brisk enough outside that everyone was staying in. Kurt jerked his arm out of Blaine's grip and Blaine held his hands up placatingly.
"Okay," Blaine said, "clearly you're pissed at me. And I'm sorry I didn't tell you I'd seen you at the Nationals for cheerleading and Glee before we officially met, but I didn't want to sound like a stalker. I always watch the Cheerios compete to support Sue and I always watch Glee Club Nationals for, you know, competitive sizing-up, and you just happened to be at both last year."
Kurt ran a hand through his hair. It was a testament to his state of mind that he didn't care he was messing it up. "Blaine. I don't care if you've seen me perform. I don't care if you've—if you've got a framed picture of me set up like a shrine."
"You don't?" Blaine looked relieved.
"I care if you're a manipulative asshole," he said.
Blaine's face twitched. "I don't know what you're talking about."
That was the most pathetic denial Kurt had ever heard. "I read your old journal."
Blaine's face colored. "You rooted through my personal belongings?"
"Don't change the subject!"
Blaine stuffed his hands into the pockets of his Dalton Academy hoodie, turned his back on Kurt, and heaved a very deep sigh. When he turned back around his face was set. "All right, I admit it; it's true."
The bottom dropped out of Kurt's stomach. Until that moment of confirmation, a part of him had still hoped...
"I asked Sue to browbeat Dalton's admittance office to admit you two weeks before winter break, and I blackmailed Wes with what I know about that inappropriate relationship he has with that gavel to let you join the Warblers a week before Sectionals without an audition and let you try out for a solo."
"And I made up that Kings Island Christmas Spectacular thing as an excuse to sing a duet with you, and when you said you wanted to see me perform I asked Sue to call up all of her former Cheerios to come and put together Winterfest in a day."
Blaine spread his arms out to encompass all of himself. "Dad is crazy and Uncle Matt was crazy and they both married crazy women and had crazy kids! Even Jean—she rules that Assisted Living Center with an iron fist. And I try not to be a—well, a Sylvester, but I just like you so much and I want everything to go right for you and now I've totally ruined my chances with you because I've freaked you out," Blaine ended in a miserable tone, shoulders slumping as he dropped his hands. "I was trying to not freak you out."
Kurt stared at him.
"...You like me?"
"Well, yeah," Blaine said, not looking at him. "You said you read my journal."
"I, uh—I didn't get to that part."
"If you're going to read someone's journal, you might as well read the whole thing," Blaine muttered, walking away from him and sitting down on the porch steps. Kurt came over to sit next to him, and Blaine stuffed his hands back in his pockets and leaned against his knees. "I knew I liked you when we ran slow motion down that hallway at Dalton."
"...What are you talking about?"
"Sometimes things happen in slow motion," Blaine shrugged. "It happens to Sue, too."
Kurt decided to let that go without comment. He scraped the toe of his boot through the frozen grass at the bottom of the porch steps. "I... kind of thought you set me up with confronting Karofsky so that I'd transfer schools and McKinley wouldn't win at Sectionals."
Blaine's head whipped around and he gaped at him, horrified. "Oh, no! Kurt, I just give really shitty advice! I would never—"
"I'm starting to get that," Kurt said, feeling like the douchebag to end all douchebags.
Blaine likewise looked miserable, gaze dropping back down to his feet. "See, now that you know how I can get you don't trust me anymore. I knew this would happen," he added mournfully.
Kurt didn't think that a simple denial would do in this situation. So he drew a deep breath and said, "Last year when I had a crush on Finn, I dressed Rachel up like a hooker to sabotage her chances with him."
Blaine lifted his head and looked at him.
"And I set up our parents so that I'd have more opportunities to get closer to him, which culminated in the two of us sharing a room."
There was a short pause while they just looked at one another, and then Blaine said, "My God, you are so hot."
Blaine later claimed the kiss was in slow motion. Kurt didn't remember that, but he did know that it went on for a long time.