Title: Where There's Smoke [3/12+E]
Rating: PG-13 generally, but moving to NC-17 in places (will point out, accordingly, for those averse)
Word Count: 3600/100,000
Warnings: None, really, aside from future mentions of homophobic treatment by a parent (I never use slurs. Never.)
Summary: Fireman AU, set 7 years after graduation. Kurt is Kurt, except that he never met Blaine Anderson. Blaine grew up in Brooklyn with his mother and firefighter father. Rachel and Kurt have graduated NYADA, Kurt gained a Masters from Tisch, and now they're in their first post-college apartment together ready to tackle their dreams. Unfortunately, Rachel never learned how to properly cook and almost sets their new house on fire. Enter Dreamy McFirepants.
A/N: This wouldn't exist without the most amazing editor a person could ask for, flaming_muse. Any remaining errors fall squarely on
Previous Chapters: [Masterlist + One] [Two]
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Kurt lay in bed glaring at the ceiling. Note to self: do not sub-let apartments that are under behemoths. The tenants upstairs, the Michigan supporters, surely moved around their apartment on pogo sticks; there was no other explanation for the loud banging noises, unless they purposely stomped around. He sighed and rolled to his side, glancing at his clock. 8:23am. Seeing as he hadn't made it back to his apartment until close to 2am, and then he spent a few hours gnashing his teeth over skipping away, tra la la, without so much as giving Blaine his phone number, he was still tired.
Stupid Marc Jacobs v-neck and his stupid sexy chest hairs and dumb pretty face with rotten full lips made for kissing, oh, what if Blaine smiles when he kisses and I can feel the corners of his mouth turn up and--
Clomp clomp clomp upstairs, and maybe they could try to consolidate their trips up there instead of pacing back and forth like they were marching for the North Korean army.
Kurt flung himself onto his back, slamming his fists into the mattress. Fine. He'd get up. He grabbed his summer robe that was draped over the back of his desk chair and slid it over his pajamas, in case Rachel had rounded third and they had a guest for coffee and scones.
He stepped out to the main living area, noting that Rachel's door was still closed and her purse was sitting on the wet bar. At least one of us is getting some sleep. He started the coffee pot, staring at the red light on the Brew button as he waited for it to turn green. He thumped his forehead onto his crossed arms on the counter. How aptly named: Bitter Sweet.
Rachel staggered out yawning at 10am. Kurt had already made good headway in the morning's crossword; she would be left with “lavabo - ten letters” and “Trammel of baseball - fifteen letters,” and Kurt had absolutely no idea what it could possibly be. And didn’t care. He grimly noted that there were two clues that involved coffee and four that involved love or relationships. Even the NYT crossword puzzle was mocking him.
“All alone I see?”
“Of course.” Rachel yawned hugely and reached for her favorite mug. “Oh, excuse me. Although I take it that means you didn't hear him slip out last night?”
Kurt laid his pencil next to the puzzle and leaned back, grinning. “Well, well! Details; spill it.”
“You're one to talk! Did you and Blaine find a dark corner and kiss passionately?”
He couldn’t keep his face from falling. He slumped in his chair, last night’s mistake deflating his already troubled mood.
“Oh, no! Oh, Kurt, what happened?” She abandoned her coffee and slid in the seat next to him, taking his hand.
He caught her up on the conversation, the interruption, the disappearance, and then the potential date.
“But that's wonderful; why are you so sad?”
“Because I'm the idiot that left him with no way to get in touch with me!”
“Well, that's just stupid. We'll go down to the station house. David is off today, so I don't have to worry about looking like a creepy stalker, and you can give him your number there!”
“So I can look like a creepy stalker? You know, I kind of feel like I've done enough throwing. It would be nice for him to pitch a little woo.”
“But he can't because he doesn't know--. Oh my god, this is stupid. I'll give your number to David, he can give it to Blaine. Problem solved.”
She stood up to finish making her coffee.
“Creamer is over the stove. No, I don't want you to have David give Blaine my number; that's so high school. I can make a little note with a check box, 'Do you like me Yes or No?'”
“Kurt, you're being unreasonable. There's a simple solution to this.”
“I just... I don't know, I feel like the universe is trying to tell me something.”
“You don't believe in karma.”
“Hm, good point.” He pressed his hands into his eye sockets and sighed. “Just...I don't want to do anything about it today. Creepy stalker and all, right?”
Rachel buried her face in her mug, avoiding eye contact.
“Mm hm. Besides, I have fittings all day today and tomorrow. I cannot deal with boys on top of dealing with divas.”
Screaming would be appropriate right about now. Especially if he could scream right into Giovanna's hateful face and tell her once and for all that her eyebrows were drawn on crookedly and in the wrong shade, she simply could not pull off that color yellow, and if she didn't lay off the pasta buffet, he was done trying to keep her in her costume. She had to wear a damn slip for half of the production, and once you put holes in satin, they were there for all the world to see.
It wouldn't be so bad if Kurt even remotely liked that harpy, but she snapped her fingers at him, she wouldn't make eye contact, and somehow had gotten the idea that that was acceptable behavior. He finished ripping out the darts in the bodice and reminded himself that he was being paid well for this production, and he was being paid well because of the headlining star. Who happened to be a complete bitch.
“Kurt?” Peter gently laid a hand on Kurt's shoulder, then snatched it back when Kurt whirled to see who had dared invade his personal space. “Um, maybe we could call it a day. Tricia has an extra set of Spanx that she's going to loan Giovanna for tonight's dress rehearsal, and we can reconvene on Monday.” Peter dropped his voice and leaned in closely, “I'll maybe mention that she's bringing our wardrobe over budget and to stop...indulging like she's been.”
“I am telling you, I--” Kurt hissed. “I warned you about poaching opera singers; they are the worst when it comes to attitude, and they assume every production will have yards of velvet to hide their flaws and that we're all just dying to be in their presence. I've already altered her costume three times this month. We're about to go into double overtime pay, Peter. I just do not have the patience to deal with this.”
Peter backed away a bit, giving Kurt full clearance to the door. “Honey, I understand completely. And as always, your work is impeccable, and if no one else will say it, I appreciate you. Now. How about you take your gloomy rain cloud on home and let me deal with these girls, hmm?”
Kurt deflated; he unstrapped his wrist pin-cushion and jammed it in his work bag, along with his other portable supplies. “Fine. I definitely need to catch up on some sleep.”
Peter whistled lasciviously. “Oh, do you no--”
“Don't start with me, Combs; I am not in the mood.”
“I--” Peter started, backing away slowly. “--am going to turn away now before you have a chance to eviscerate me.”
Kurt dropped to one knee to finish shoving his sketch book and notes into his bag when he saw a pair of puffy feet invade his space.
“I hate these shoes, they're ridiculous. And I told you, I'm a size 7. These are a 9.”
Kurt sucked in a breath, and exhaled slowly, counting to ten. He made it to three. “What are you complaining about now, Giovanna?”
“These shoes. They pinch. Probably because they're cheap.”
That was it. He rose to his feet, pleased that he towered over her. He bent over so he was inches from her face. “If they pinch and they're two sizes too big, then you are a complete moron. And I am fresh out of crayons, or I'd explain it to you.”
She reared back, flushing. “Now, see here-”
“No. I wish I could see it your way, but I can't get my head that far up my ass.”
He smirked to himself when he heard a few others in the company titter. Kurt wasn't the only one that got the superior treatment from her, but this was just not the week. He grabbed his things, snorted when Peter gave him both a frightened and apologetic look, and stormed out of the building.
His bad mood poured off him in almost visible waves. He had no trouble fighting Friday late-afternoon traffic to the subway station; people seemed to part around him like he was wearing a force field. All of the occupants on the subway clustered at one far end as he sat muttering and jangling one leg up and down in a chair at the opposite end. He was so frustrated that he didn't even notice that he got off his train one stop too early.
He looked around the unfamiliar surroundings and headed off to walk the extra six blocks to his neighborhood, keeping his eyes peeled for any interesting looking eateries or bodegas for his dinner. He was going to splurge tonight; maybe he’d even get something with cheese in it. He deserved something decadent with empty calories.
Friday night with no date, no prospects... nothing but Tivo'd Project Runway, one of the early seasons. The thought of mocking wanna-be designers that couldn't sew a straight line if they had a glue gun to their head lifted his spirits somewhat. It wasn't that he was planning on a pity party, because those had been outlawed. It would be more of a bitch bash.
He dropped his items on the counter and while the cashier rang him up, he pulled out his cloth shopping bag from his satchel. He helped the cashier load his things into the bag and thanked him, walking to the door. Which is when he almost ran head-long into Blaine.
“Kurt! What are you doing here?”
Kurt was frozen in place, the toffee candy bar wrapper he had been in the process of biting off was stuck to his lip, but both hands were full. He tried to push it off his lip with his tongue.
“You know, you're not supposed to eat the wrapper.” Chuckling, Blaine reached out and took the shopping bag from Kurt's hand so he could take care of the little bit of garbage.
“Oh, really? I heard there were essential trace minerals.”
Blaine's eyes were crinkled with mirth, a sight that sent a flash of heat to Kurt face and a ball of excitement to his stomach.
“You know, Kurt, you left without giving me your number.”
Kurt would never have shimmied or danced a jig, he had far too much self-respect for something so childish and unrestrained. So he imagined himself doing it, instead. He did, however, beam at Blaine, tilting his head. “Did I? I don't know what could have distracted me.”
Blaine, still holding Kurt's bag, handed over his cellphone. “Would you be so kind?”
Kurt was charmed to his toes. He took the phone and entered his information, then swapped the phone for his shopping bag.
Blaine stood for a moment longer, just smiling at him, before checking his phone. “Hummel? Well, it's nice to officially know you, Mr. Hummel.”
Kurt raked his eyes over Blaine; he was wearing his normal FDNY tee and navy pants that looked regulation.
Blaine laughed, running his hands through his hair. “Not very stylish, I know, but somehow the department doesn't seem to care.”
The pants may have been a poly-cotton blend, but they were well-fitted to Blaine's toned body, so Kurt couldn't really complain too much.
“Hey, I'd really love to catch up,” Blaine said, “but I have to be on shift in about ten minutes. Tony's cooking tonight, and he has absolutely no sense of taste. Everything is soaked in ketchup, so I try and bring my own food in.”
“Oh, certainly! I was just leaving, myself.”
“Hot date tonight?”
Kurt flushed to his roots. He knew Blaine was fishing, but still. “Oh, yes. Hot date with a gorgeous man, actually. He's incredibly talented and articulate.” Before Blaine's face could drop any further, Kurt laughed, “Hot date with my television and Tim Gunn.”
Blaine's shoulders dropped an inch, and he exhaled softly, smiling. “Oh. Well, I don't want to keep you, then. He's quite charming.” Blaine held his phone up and wiggled it slightly. “So, give you a call?”
Did Kurt think that he was having a bad day? Because he honestly couldn't remember why he thought that, especially in the face of that expectant look Blaine was wearing. Wanting to call Kurt, hoping that would be okay. The bitch bash was quickly being reorganized into a joyful jubilee. “Yes, I'd like that.”
Blaine walked backwards into the shop, keeping eye contact and grinning hugely. “Okay, then.”
Kurt smiled back, equally goofy. “Okay, then!”
Blaine pointed with his thumb over his shoulder. “I really do have to go, though. I’ve got my hopes set on Eduardo still having chicken enchiladas. The owner’s wife makes them, and they’re ridiculously good. They usually sell out by this time.”
The cashier shouted out with a thick accent, “I always keep some for you, Señor Blaine!”
It seemed that Kurt wasn't the only one charmed by the captain. Kurt laughed, “I'll let you get to it, then. Have a good night; hope it's a calm one?”
Blaine was almost out of visual range, so he leaned his head over and said, “Thank you!”
Kurt didn't skip out; it certainly wasn't a prance. He was a man, not a giggling schoolboy; he walked out. With maybe a little bit of a dance added in. He hardly noticed the next several blocks as he made his way back home, walking briskly with his fist pressed to his wide, happy smile.
“That's a lot of look.”
Kurt said it before Tim did, but honestly, Kurt was impressed with how little there was on the model to make it so... erm, unique.
“It's like a spider on acid spun a web with metal washers,” he muttered around a mouthful of pins. “Not even a porn star would comfortably wear that shoddy excuse for swimwear.”
The tv was on in the background while he finished up some muslin patterns for an upcoming project at his work table. Not the most exciting of Friday nights, but he wouldn't have to worry about racing against the clock for the rest of the weekend.
Just in case.
He took his foot off the pedal of his sewing machine, hearing his phone ring in the other room. It's 10 o'clock at night, who the hell.... He knew it wasn't Rachel, Finn, Carole, or his dad; they all had personal ring tones. He almost didn't answer when he saw “UNKNOWN” on the screen but had a moment's thrill that it might be...
“I'm not calling too late, am I?” Blaine's voice murmured into Kurt's ear.
He settled into a chair in the living room, pleased beyond the telling. “No, not at all. I'm just catching up on some work. Slow night?”
Blaine laughed pleasantly. “Don't jinx it!”
“Did your enchiladas live up to your expectations?”
“Mm, they did. And given the meal that Tony cooked, I’d say it exceeded expectations.”
“What did he make?” Kurt asked.
“Some god-awful thing he called a stew. It was a crock pot filled with canned peas, a whole tomato, not even chopped or peeled, frozen carrots, and--” Blaine must have pulled the phone away to make a disgusted noise. “--sorry, it was just awful. He had some shredded turkey pastrami from the deli in there. That was it. No seasonings, no bay leaf, nothing that is a proper stew.”
“Oh, you poor things!”
Kurt smiled and curled his toes at the sound of Blaine laughing at the other end of the line.
“Enough about that, though.” Blaine made some kind of noise like he was stretching before continuing. “How was your day? You didn’t seem as, hm, as buoyant as you’ve been the last times we’ve seen each other.”
Kurt snuggled into his chair, elated by this unexpected and fully welcomed turn of events in what had been a horrendous day. He toyed with the hem of his shirt, almost purring responses to Blaine as he walked him through his work load and the horror story that was Giovanna.
“And you’ll be happy to know that I decided on saving the rest of my candy wrapper for a midnight snack.”
He was beginning to love the sound of Blaine’s laugh, warm and bright. When Blaine mentioned in an off-hand way that he'd just finished a workout in the station's gym and thought he'd give Kurt a call, Kurt bit his lip to make sure he didn't actually moan into the phone. Sweaty exertion made him think of Kurt?
I am going to literally die. It will be one of the few times that the word is used accurately in context.
“So, I was wondering if tomorrow--” someone called Blaine's name in the background, and Kurt could hear the muffled sound of a hand over the receiver. Blaine came back to the phone a brief moment later. “Sorry about that, and Wes says to tell you hi.”
Kurt thrilled from his head to his toes and sank deeper into his chair, almost curling in to the back cushion with the phone, feeling somehow intimate with Blaine on the other end. “Hi, back. And I believe you were asking about tomorrow?”
Blaine hummed, “Tomorrow, yes.” Blaine must have shifted at his end, his voice dropped back down to a quiet thrum, as if he didn’t want to share anything with anyone else, just Kurt. “What would you say about taking a personal tour? There's apparently an amazing new bistro that opened up not too far from your place; Wes and Emily have gone on and on about it. Thought that maybe you and I could see if it was all that?”
Kurt closed his eyes, and clucked his tongue, teasing, “Oooh, tomorrow. Let's see... Oh, wait--” his voice changed from flirtatious to something a little more serious when he remembered Finn was coming. “I actually do have something I need to take care of earlier in the day, but I should be finished around four, so I think I'm free after that?”
“That's perfect, I don't get off duty until three, so that gives me plenty of time to spruce up. Oh, can you hang on for just a second? I'm sorry, I have someone standing here demanding that I answer their question right away.”
Kurt laughed at the friendly banter in the background. “Tell you what, how about I let you go handle this new situation, and I'll see you tomorrow?”
“Okay. Tomorrow, then. It's a date.”
Kurt barely had breath for “‘bye” as they ended the call.
There was absolutely nothing wrong in Kurt's mind for a grown man to do a little victory dance in the privacy of his own home.
[TBC - here]
~short, I know, but it's a natural break, but tomorrow's chapter is about three times as long. :) Thank you for reading!