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Return To Glory

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Return to Glory – Chapter One – Lost!

 

It is when we are most lost that we sometimes find our truest friends.

~The Brothers Grimm, Snow White


 

Anderson-Hummel Homestead

Mt Russell, Oregon

May

 

“Jordan!”

“Jordan, where are you?” Blaine's voice echoed through the forest. It was an unseasonably hot day and Blaine had started to sweat.

“It isn't all that far from home, do you think he can find his way?” Kurt asked again, wiping his brow with a handkerchief. Their son had wandered away from his twin sister and grandfather on their blackberry hunting expedition.

“I don't know, Kurt. We haven't been over this way and it's half a mile from home...” Blaine said, looking through the brush and trees to find a trace of his son.

“He was trying to show off, thinking he could find his way home by himself. I told him he was going the wrong direction!” Katura piped up, untangling a bit of her long red hair from a spruce tree. She had undone her braids and hadn't bothered pulling the long tresses into a more manageable ponytail.

“Katura, we've talked about this. Jordy can make decisions on his own, he doesn't need you to micromanage his every move, honey. You cannot parent your sibling. Let's focus on finding him, okay?” Blaine gently chastised his daughter.

Since the twins had turned ten, Katura had gotten a lot more mouthy – with everyone – and spent too much of her time on social media. Jordan buried himself in his electronics, too: spending every spare minute on his tablet or game system. Blaine and Kurt had felt they were losing their children to the modern world. After long talks they decided they needed a big change in their lives.

 

Since adopting the twins, Katura and Jordan, ten years ago, they split their time between the Victorian house in Philomath where Burt and Carole now lived and the log house on Mt. Warner that was built near the lumber camp where Blaine had saved Kurt over fifteen years ago. They had moved from the log house on Mt Warner to the new log house on Mt. Russell just a few weeks ago and were just getting used to the land surrounding it.

Blaine had surprised Kurt with the house for Christmas a year ago last December and now it was May. In seventeen months the crew had built a two-story log house that Kurt had designed himself. The plumbing, phone, and propane were due to be hooked up before October but in the mean time it was a bit rustic. Lucky for them, the electricity had been turned on before they came.

The twins were going stir-crazy.

Finally, their Grandpa Burt had come to help. Carole was in New York with Finn and Rachel, awaiting their baby and Burt was going a bit stir-crazy himself. He'd retired from the garage he'd bought in Philomath and although he still owned half of it, Puck was managing it and was buying it from Burt over time. Burt had finally stopped going over to hang out.

He wanted . . . no, he needed to have something meaningful to do. The twins weren't tiny anymore and didn't need the constant care they once did but when they moved to 'Outer Mongolia' (as Katie put it) he came to see what he could do to help.

Grandpa Burt knew there were blackberries not too far from the house and led the grandchildren to a field of them. It was hot on the mountain today and Burt was glad he'd brought along lots of water for the kids. They were deprived of their electronics, tablets, laptops, and game systems, which made both of them grumpy.

Burt had broken up several arguments and was getting tired of their constant bickering. He only had Kurt to raise and hadn't had to deal with sibling rivalry, so he was not on firm footing when it came to the best way to stop the combat. Hard work had dominated his young life, leaving no time to fight with his brothers so this was new territory. Maybe hard work would be the ticket here, too.

After half an hour of picking and filling a large tub of them, he looked around and Jordan was missing.

Realizing he didn't know enough about finding his way in a forest, he followed the path back to the house to enlist his son and Blaine in finding the boy.

“Well, it's only 2 o'clock and the sun is out. It's been plenty warm at night so we don't need to worry about that, so let's go in pairs around the edge of this field and see if we can call for him. He was wearing his whistle, right Katie?” Blaine asked. The twins each had a silver whistle that they wore around their necks in case they got lost.

“Yes, Tatay. We always wear them,” she answered, remembering seeing Jordy with it around his neck when they left the house that morning.

“Okay, I'll go with Katie, you two start around the other way,” Blaine said and watched as Kurt took off with Burt to the eastern edge of the blackberry field.

 

They walked along the edge, pushing branches and scooting between brambles as they made their way along. Every twenty steps or so they blew the whistle – Blaine and Kurt wore them, too. No returning blast pierced the still afternoon air. Even the birds were resting in the heat.

They saw a lot of animals: dwarf bunnies, a martin stalking something by a tiny pond, many types of birds. But no brother.

Walking around the other way, Kurt blew his whistle and slowed his pace to sit down on a log. He was never as spry as his husband and although he was strong from his life in the wilderness, Blaine was stronger. The summer heat was wearing on all of them.

“You okay, Kurt?” Burt asked as he came up and sat next to Kurt, trying to mask how hard he was breathing.

“It's that old injury. You remember when I broke my leg?” Kurt asked, referring to when he fell over a rocky embankment into a deep crevice on the beach when flying a kite with Blaine.

“That still bothering you? That was....over a decade ago!”

“Yeah, but it still aches when the weather changes or if I walk too far,” Kurt admitted. He was a bit sore but the real reason he stopped was that he was worried about his dad. Burt had bounced back from his heart attack he'd had when Kurt was in high school and had led a good, healthy life – that is until a few years ago when he'd had a few episodes of heart trouble. He was doing fine now, but slowing down. He was nearing 65 years old and just wasn't a spring chicken anymore. It was part of why he didn't go to the shop anymore.

“Okay, son. We'll just rest for a bit,” Burt said, settling down on the log and looking around to see any signs of Jordan. He thought maybe there was some trampled grass about ten yards away and pointed it out to Kurt. They got up and headed that way.

 

“I don't know why he'd leave our sides,” Katura told her tatay. 'Tatay' is the Filipino word for daddy and was what the twins called Blaine.

“Maybe he saw a better bush with more blackberries and went to pick there then just walked away looking for more?” Blaine proposed.

“He just doesn't want to be near me,” Katie said, stomping along.

“Let's try blowing our whistles together,” Blaine said, ignoring his daughter's obvious complaint about her twin. They seemed to argue all the time anymore, which was part of the reason he and Kurt decided to move to the house here on Mt. Russell before it was finished.

The whistles, blown together, were really loud and they waited to hear anything, but no luck.

“I remember looking for your daddy like this once,” Blaine said. He was just rambling but Katie stopped walking.

“What?”

“Oh, well, when your daddy first came to Warner Mountain he and I had an argument and he ran away from me. He didn't know much about the forest and he got lost. It took me two days to find him – and I was riding a mule,” Blaine explained to his daughter, thinking about when Kurt was angry and left without thinking. He got caught by two men who thought Kurt was a freeloader who didn't belong in the camp. They kidnapped him and it took Blaine, Cooper, and August to save him.

“Was it Claudius?” she asked, naming the old mule that spent his time eating in the meadow near their old home now.

“No, Maximus.”

“Oh. I miss Maxi,” Katie said, her eyes tearing up. Katie was outspoken and bossy, but she could be very emotional.

The kids had learned to ride on the old mules: Claudius, Caesar, and Maximus. They had originally been used to haul logs from the forest and then used as pack or riding mules for Blaine, Lenore, and Cooper. Now in their old age, the two remaining mules lived in a large meadow – free to eat grass and play together all day.

“I know, honey, but he was almost thirty years old. That is older than most mules ever live. He had a good life, baby,” Blaine tried to tell his little girl. He wished he could shield her from things like death, but his children knew that death was a part of life and nothing to be afraid of. At least that was what he and Kurt had tried to teach them.

“I know, Tatay, but I still miss him. Are Claudius and Caesar going to die soon?”

“I don't know, honey. They are very old for mules. They are Maximus' brothers but younger than he was. I think they are both around twenty-five. They are both still in good health so don't worry too much, okay?” Blaine offered, sweeping her into his arms for a hug.

She started to tear up once again, burying her face in her tatay's neck.

“What's wrong, honey? You're getting my shirt all wet,” he tried to kid her. He knew she loved Maximus, but he died over a year ago. “This isn't about Maxi, is it?”

“No, Tatay. Can Jordy die if he's lost in the forest?” she whispered.

“We're going to find him, okay? He's smart, he'll be careful,” Blaine soothed her.

“But what if we don't? What if he's in the woods at night and bats and lions and bears come? They could eat him. He can't swim as well as I can, what if he swims out too far on the lake and can't get back?”

“Hey, hey, Katura. What makes you think he'd go to the lake?” Blaine asked, beginning to see that there was something Katie wasn't telling him.

“He just might...it's a hot day...” she whispered.

“If you know where Jordan is tell me right now,” Blaine demanded, a frown on his face.

“It's not my fault. He didn't want to be here picking with me and we had an argument. I told him if he didn't want to be there with me, he should go swimming in the lake. I said the whole family would be there. I didn't think he'd really go,” she said, her lip quivering.

 

Blaine walked into the blackberry field and blew three sharp whistles . A minute later he heard three from across the field. He looked over and saw his husband and Burt starting towards him. He was closer to the lake, so he waited for the two men to catch up and explained the situation to them. All four started to the west, towards the large lake about a quarter mile away.

 

“Jordan!” Burt called, but had to stop and cough.

“Hey, Dad? Can you walk slower here with Katura so Blaine and I can run? I don't want to leave her alone even though we're on a trail,” Kurt asked. Burt knew it was because he was slowing them down but he let it go. He was slower and was a big enough man to admit it.

“Sure, son. Katura, I guess it's you and me, sweetheart,” Burt said, holding his hand out for her to hold. Katie ran to take his hand, knowing her grandfather would not be too mad at her, no matter what. She knew she deserved a stern punishment and worried what her fathers would do.

 

Blaine and Kurt walked at a much faster pace, hoping that they would find Jordy sitting beside the lake. Both twins were in serious trouble and they were going to find themselves doing a lot of extra chores to make up for it.

As they walked along, Blaine began to sing.

 

“….the sadness will leave your face

As soon as you've won your fight to get justice done

Someday, little girl, you'll wonder what life's about

But others have known- few battles are won alone -

So, you'll look around to find

Someone who's kind

Someone who is fearless like you

And the pain of it will ease a bit...”

 

“I remember the first time I heard you sing that song, Blaine. It was when the camp bounty hunters kidnapped me and you found me. August hit Porter in the head with a rock and Chase let me go like a hot potato. You don't forget things like that,” Kurt grinned. Blaine blushed. He hadn't realized what he was singing but thinking of that incident earlier must have put the seed into his mind.

“You would have been fine if you'd listened to me,” Blaine laughed. Kurt rolled his eyes.

 

They kept up a quick pace and Blaine started singing again.

 

One day you will rise and you won't believe your eyes

You'll wake up and see a world that is fine and free

Though summer seems far away

You will find the sun one day.....”

 

“I remember renting that movie when you came to live with us in Lima,” Kurt reminisced.

“Can't beat John Wayne – and True Grit was one of his best,” Blaine said.

“You should know. I think Dad rented every John Wayne movie ever made because you would watch them with him,” Kurt mentioned, laughing.

“Okay, enough of the trip down memory lane,” Blaine laughed, blushing at the memory.

Kurt loved it when Blaine blushed, and he did it just as often as he had as a sixteen-year-old kid. Kurt moved closer and stopped Blaine with a touch to his shoulder. When his husband turned to see what Kurt needed, Kurt kissed his cheek. Blaine smiled and the blush deepened, leading Kurt to give him a real kiss. He pulled Blaine closer and put his arms around him tightly.

“We'll find Jordy, I promise, Baby,” Kurt whispered in his ear.

Blaine gave him a sad smile and a tight hug before turning back to the trail. He caught Kurt's hand and held it as they continued along the trail to the lake.

 

They walked in the hot sun, observing the trees and birds around them. Kurt had always thought Warner Mountain was a wild place, even after he'd lived there for a dozen years, but this place was a different world. Few human beings had ever set foot here before they broke ground to build their house. It was a surprise to Kurt to see such a wide array of animals.

He could tell they were getting close to the lake because there were frogs singing. He remembered the trips up Warner Mountain with Blaine the first times, riding close together on Caesar and seeing so many little creatures he'd never thought of.

 

As they neared the lake, Blaine got his whistle out and blew it. They heard an answering bark and a few minutes later Lucy and Scout, the family's flat-coated retrievers, came running up to him. They wagged their tails and walked along with the men towards the lake.

“Well, maybe Jordan is at the lake but didn't hear our whistles?” Blaine said.

“Let's try again,” Kurt suggested and blew his whistle. This time there was a echoing whistle blown three times.

“There he is!” Kurt crowed, breaking into a run.

He and Blaine came to the end of the trees, seeing Jordan running towards them, a smile on his face.

“Daddy, Tatay! I had just about given up waiting for you. I had waded around the edge of the lake, but I know better than to get in to swim alone. Lucy and Scout found me, so I thought everyone would be here soon – but I've been waiting forever!” Jordan rushed out, hugging first one then the other of his fathers.

“Wait, you thought we were all coming to swim at the lake?” Kurt asked.

“Yeah. Katie told me to come first and they would all be here...” he stuttered to a stop. “She lied, didn't she?” Jordan said in a sad voice.

“Yes, honey, she did. We've been searching the forest in back of the blackberry patch for almost two hours. She only fessed up a little while ago and we came straight here,” Blaine told his son. Jordan teared up, closing his eyes and putting his arms around Blaine. Kurt put his arms around both of them.

“Hey, you're okay. We need to talk about this, about you coming here alone. It was wrong, no matter what your sister told you and you knew that, didn't you?” Blaine said.

“Yes, Tatay,” Jordy replied, looking miserable.

“We were so worried, and something might have happened to you. I know you're growing up but you are not old enough to be alone in the wilderness. We've gone over this time after time, young man. Life is not a video game, Jordy. You don't get to come back to life and play again – there are real consequences to your actions,” Kurt said, though he tried not to be too harsh because Jordan was a very sensitive boy. He took everything to heart.

 

Burt and Katura came around the edge of the trees and Katie ran the last ten yards to her brother, hugging him and telling him how sorry she was that she'd tricked him. Jordan hugged her back.

“Why, Katie? Why did you do that to me?” he asked, his eyes tearing up. “I would never do that to you.”

“No. No, you wouldn't and I'm so, so sorry. I promise I'll never do it again. I was mad at you and it was such a bad thing to do...” Katie said before she began to cry.

“I wish I believed that,” Jordy whispered to himself before hugging his sister. Only Burt heard him.

 

“Well, it's good we found you, kiddo,” Burt said. “Who would I go fishing with if you were lost?”

“I wasn't lost. I knew where I was,” Jordan said, his face so serious.

“I guess you did at that,” Burt smiled and gave his grandson a hug.

 

“It is hot out here. Everyone want to go swimming?” Blaine asked and got a resounding cheer.

 

The Hummel-Anderson clan all stripped down to their skivvies and got into the cool, clear water of the lake. Even Burt. They swam for over an hour, then got out and dried off by sitting on the warm rocks that surrounded the lake. Lucy and Scout swam with their humans, getting out and running around the shore barking.

 

Sitting on the bank, Jordan saw a family of wood ducks swimming along the shore and pointed it out to his daddy, who was sitting near to him. Katie grinned at him. Jordan was always the first to see wildlife.

It was late afternoon and clouds were gathering in the sky. It cooled off a bit, though it was by no means cold. More wildlife began to show themselves as Jordan sat alone on a warm granite rock a way down the shore from the rest of the family.

He looked over in the woods just in time to see a fox walking along the edge of the trees. She was stalking something and Jordy watched as the small dog-like creature jumped straight up in the air and pounced on a small animal. It was probably a mouse or something similar and the vixen disappeared back into the forest, probably to feed her brood of kits. Jordan smiled at the thought of the tiny baby foxes, so cute at this stage. He'd seen many of them in the meadow in back of the house on Warner Mountain.

“Earth to Jordy,” Kurt called and Jordan noticed the family was dressed and walking back towards the house.

“I'm coming, Dad,” he called back, sliding on his jean shorts and pulling his shirt and boots on before joining the family. He knew as well as Katura did that although they had a good time cooling off in the lake that they were still in trouble and their Daddy and Tatay wouldn't forget it.

Burt walked slowly, holding the hands of his grandchildren. He could tell they were thinking, probably of their punishment awaiting them when they got home. He squeezed their hands and gave each a smile. Jordan and Katura smiled back.

 

Blaine sighed and whistled for Lucy and Scout to walk close back to the log house. He and Kurt were holding hands, both in deep thought about how to get through to the twins. Since they had been going to school in Philomath, both of them had changed – and not for the better. Both Blaine and Kurt had begun to notice little things – the attention to social media was the most concerning.

Katie had begun to think more about her appearance, making the perpetually happy child into a sad and sulky kid. She suddenly hated her body, her hair, her eyes. Nothing she owned fit her or was fashionable. She had been a leader at school and among her friends but Kurt could see she was slipping into a depression.

Jordan didn't care too much about things like fashion, but his constant need to be playing violent games on his game system was getting concerning. He skipped homework to sneak into his bedroom to play until Blaine removed the system from his room and put it in the den downstairs so he could be monitored.

While it was good that Burt and Carole moved to be close to Kurt and his family, the time spent in Philomath in the rambling Victorian house was time shared with the parents. Kurt and Blaine lived in the upstairs with the twins while Burt and Carole lived downstairs, but they shared the kitchen, yard, livingroom, and patio.

When one of the children had been reprimanded, they often retreated to the kitchen to get hugs from their grandparents. While that was nice, it undermined their fathers' authority and both of them felt their grip on the twins slipping away. It wasn't Burt and Carole's fault, and it wasn't even the twin's fault. In the end, even going up to the log house in Warner Camp led to problems with electronics and interference from well-meaning people like Shannon and Cookie, the cooks for the camp and the closest neighbors to the log house.

When the new house was ready enough, Blaine rushed them to move there even without propane and plumbing. He thought just a month or so alone with Katura and Jordan would make a difference. Kurt agreed.

 


Later that night, Kurt and Blaine laid together in the hammock on their balcony. One of the very best things about the house in Warner Camp was the hammock on the tiny balcony, so when he designed this house Kurt made a much larger balcony. It was big enough for a table and four chairs along with the extra-large hammock so they could eat breakfast in the cool of the morning and say goodnight to the setting sun.

The kid's rooms were on the east side of the house with morning sun shining in the windows. It tended to make both of them wake up happy and that made a good start to every day.

 

Tonight, after a supper of elk stew and Irish soda bread with blackberry tarts for dessert, Burt went to bed early. He was tired from the unaccustomed walking and he missed Carole. Rachel's baby wasn't due for another few weeks but Carole was convinced they might need her, so she was in New York.

 

Kurt and Blaine had sat their children down and talked about their disappointment in the way they had acted today. Katura had been jealous of her brother and sent him into the wilderness alone. Jordy knew better than to go by himself, but he did it anyway. Both had made poor decisions. As punishment, both were forbidden to play outside for a week. They could do outdoor chores only with an adult present, and they had to write letters of apology to their Grandpa Burt for being so dismissive of his feelings.

There were tears, which were met with hugs and cuddles from their daddy and tatay, but the punishment stood.


 

“Did we handle it okay?” Blaine asked Kurt, curling close and resting his head on Kurt's chest. They usually lay in the hammock before going in to bed.

“I hope so. I don't want them to think we don't love them, and I hate to see either of them cry, but they have to learn,” Kurt whispered back. He leaned down and kissed the top of Blaine's head. He combed his fingers through the silky black curls and smiled. He loved Blaine's hair.

“The weather was so hot today! I don't remember it being this hot in a long time,” Blaine complained.

“But the swim in the lake made it okay, right?” Kurt asked, thinking back on Blaine jumping in the lake, his boxer briefs tight across his ass cheeks. Even fifteen years later, Blaine was as beautiful as he was the day they got married.

“Yes, it did. That was a little slice of heaven,” Blaine smiled and snuggled closer to Kurt. It might have been hot that day, but the evening usually brought cooler temperatures in this high altitude. Blaine had lived most of his life up in these mountains but it still surprised Kurt from time to time.

 

“Did we do the right thing to move here?” Kurt asked. “It feels like we just ran away from our troubles. Are we teaching Katie and Jordy to run away?”

“I don't think so. It isn't as if we're going to stay here forever. Come autumn we'll go back down to the house in town. You'll need to go into the office for a while. It's fine to hole up here to work, but you need to touch base with Mr. Church.”

Kurt smiled. He loved his job as one of the partners in the architecture firm. Mr. George had retired a few years ago and Mr. Church asked Kurt if he wanted to become a partner.

“Yeah, I know. I am just worried about the twins. Are we messing up?” Kurt asked.

“No. Lots of people go on vacation for the summer. Let's just think of it as a vacation from civilization. We can teach them so many things – tying flies, baking rabbit pie, playing cribbage. All those things we did together when I met you. We'll have them so busy with new things that they won't miss the worries of town.”

“I hope so, baby. We're going to do our best. Then when we go back they might have a different perspective,” Kurt said, sighing.

“I love you, Kurt.”

“I love you, too, babe.”

 


 

 

Chapter Text

Return To Glory – Chapter Two – Night Sky

 

In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun.

You find the fun, and [snap!] the job's a game.

~P.L.Travers, Mary Poppins


Kurt woke up and turned to see that Blaine was lying next to him, wide awake.

“You okay, babe?” Blaine asked.

“Sure, why?”

“You were tossing and turning, whining in your sleep.”

“Yeah, I was having a nightmare. Sorry. Did I wake you up?” Kurt asked, reaching out to gather Blaine close. He dropped a few kisses on those silky curls. It wasn't only sex that Kurt used to tell his husband how precious he was to him. He did it in a thousand ways and Blaine loved each and every one of them.

“Yes, but I'm more concerned about you. What was the nightmare about?” Blaine asked.

“I thought I heard the twins oxygen alarms going off. I was alone here – no, it was at the other house - and both of the babies were blue, trying to cry but didn't have the breath to do it,” Kurt confessed, his beautiful blue eyes troubled.

“Oh, babe. That never happened, and if it had you would be able to handle it. It's been over nine years since we had to deal with that, thank the stars,” Blaine said in a soft voice, rubbing Kurt's back.

“Yeah, I know, but since when are nightmares logical?”

Blaine laughed.

“I guess they aren't, are they? You better now? Want to jump into a hot shower with me?” Blaine asked. Waggling his eyebrows.

“Ah...yes, of course I do – but the plumbing isn't hooked up here yet and the propane isn't either, so no water and no way to heat it. Unless you want to heat it on the stove like we did in the cabin,” Kurt said, grinning at his husband.

“Oh, shit.”

“Blaine! You never talk like that!” Kurt admonished.

“I know, but I really wanted to drag you under the shower and have my wicked way with you.”

“Nothing's stopping you. We can do wicked things right here,” Kurt said in a sexy voice, closing his eyes and kissing Blaine's neck. He still loved to touch him here, where the skin was so warm and sensitive. He felt Blaine shiver and scoot closer, his arms reaching around Kurt and quiet little sounds come from his husband's throat.

Kurt turned on his hip, pulling Blaine even closer until their morning-hard cocks rubbed together under the blankets.

“Mmmmm, that feels so good, Babe,” Blaine purred.

Kurt didn't answer in words, he just moved along Blaine's neck, kissing and now licking from time to time. A low moan rumbled through the shorter man's chest.

Blaine reached his hand down, sliding it under the waistband of Kurt's boxers and curling his fingers around him as far as he could. He earned an appreciative hum from Kurt's throat and gripped a bit harder. He loved how eager Kurt was, even after ten years of marriage. Blaine's chest felt too small for his beating heart, so full of love for Kurt.

Just as he started sliding his hand up and down, their door slammed open and the two men sat up – startled.

 

“Good morning, boys!” Burt greeted them, a big smile on his face and a tray of dishes and food in his hands.

“Ah, good morning, Dad,” Kurt said, glancing over to Blaine who was removing his hand from Kurt's boxers slowly. He set his hand in his own lap and looked down to be sure the blanket was still covering their laps.

“Burt,” he said, nodding at his father-in-law.

“I brought you breakfast in bed!” Burt grinned, setting the tray down over Kurt's lap. “I went out and gathered the eggs, then decided to cook some bacon and before I knew it I had breakfast done.”

“Thank you, Burt, it looks great,” Blaine said, picking up a piece of toast and dipping it in the deep yellow egg yolk before biting off a piece.

“Yes, thanks, Dad. This is delicious,” Kurt agreed. Burt's grin got even bigger.

“I guess I woke the twins up. They're down in the kitchen eating. They sure are grumpy in the morning. Just like you were, Kurt,” Burt says, settling himself down in a willow chair beside the bed.

“I wasn't...” Kurt started to say, then filled his mouth with more eggs and toast as he realized he actually was. Burt rolled his eyes in imitation of his son back in high school and Blaine laughed. Kurt elbowed his husband in the side and Blaine pulled back and laughed again.

“Not much has changed there...” Blaine said, dodging Kurt's hand as it flew over to poke him.

“What are we up to today, boys?” Burt asked, his eyes sparkling. The fresh air and sense of adventure were good for Burt. “I saw bees all around the blackberries when I went out to feed the chickens. I guess we should process them today?”

“Yeah, it might be time to teach the twins how to make jam,” Blaine decided.

 


“Go through the berries, just picking out any that have something wrong – like mold or bad places. There shouldn't be too many, you just picked them yesterday,” Blaine said to Katie as they sat at the big table in the yard. Cooper had made the table, knowing they would want to eat outside whenever they could. He and August, his best friend and now husband, made benches to go with it.

“Did you do this when you were a kid?” she asked.

“Sure did, Katie-girl. I made all kinds of jams and jellies,” her tatay told her, smiling. “We made jam or jelly out of just about every kind of fruit there is.”

“Are we going to make apple jam, too?” she asked as Jordan joined them at the table.

“No. Those apples are because blackberries don't have much pectin – which is the substance that makes jam thicken. Apples have a lot of pectin, so adding them to the jam won't change the flavor by much but it will allow it to be thicker so you can spread it on bread,” Blaine explained patiently.

“Oh, okay Tatay,” Katie said. She sat quietly sorting through the berries in the baskets in front of her.

“Daddy said to tell you that all the jelly jars are ster...steri...boiled.” Jordan reported, referring to Kurt, as he sat next to his tatay and pulled the man's arm around him. Jordan craved affection like dogs craved bones and Blaine was happy to give his son all the hugs he wanted.

“Sterilized. It means we boil the glass jars until all the germs are gone so the jam or jelly won't go bad.”

“Did Jordy tell you the jars are all done?” Kurt asked, stepping out the back door.

“Yes. I put him to work sorting the berries,” Blaine smiled and Kurt came over. Blaine leaned his head back against his husband's stomach and Kurt leaned down to kiss him.

“I'll peel and chop the apples, babe,” Kurt offered, sitting down close to Blaine on the bench.

 

They all worked in silence, the kids finding they were enjoying the simple tasks and the quiet. When the berries were ready, Kurt mixed the chopped apples in.

“Okay, let's get them cooking!” Blaine announced as they took the buckets of berries into the kitchen.

When designing the log house, Kurt made the kitchen wide and long with another table in the space. This time the table was made of oak and sat in pride of place between the 'kitchen area' and the 'dining area'.

They set the berries on the table, measuring them into a very large pot. For every cup of blackberries that Blaine put in the pot, Kurt supervised the children adding a measuring cup of sugar. It wasn't long before the 12-quart pot was half-filled with blackberries. They came up to a boil and Blaine stirred it, gently breaking apart the berries as he went. He moved the pot on the stove to a cooler place so it would simmer, not boil.

The jelly glasses had been sterilized and sat upside-down on clean white towels on the big table. They had cooled enough to touch.

“Turn the jelly glasses over now,” Kurt directed and the twins turned them over on the towels.

“That's enough, we only need half of them for now,” Blaine said, getting the canning funnel out of the pan were they had boiled it.

Cooking done, Blaine placed a large dipper in the berries and spooned them into the hot glass jars. Kurt walked right behind him. They had melted paraffin in a small pan designated for that purpose. Blaine's father had bent the old pan so it had a place in the rim that made pouring easier. Blaine smiled, thinking of his father making blackberry jam.

“Now, make sure there isn't anything on the rims – a smear of blackberries can stop the paraffin from sealing correctly,” Blaine warned and Kurt moved to wipe the inside rims of the jelly glasses.

“When it's cool, we'll put a lid and ring on it,” Blaine explained to the children.

“I'm leaving some jam in a bowl here so we can have some blackberry jam on the dinner rolls tonight,” Kurt said and his dad grinned from ear to ear. Burt loved being with his son and son-in-law up here because he didn't have to watch his diet as much. With all the physical activity and the fresh food, he could have things like butter and preserves without Kurt lecturing him.

“What about the rest of the berries, Tatay?” Jordy asked, his big brown eyes on his curly-haired father.

“We're going to make jelly out of those.”

“What's the difference between jam and jelly?” Katie asked.

“Jam is made with the whole berry, we just mash them while we're cooking them. Jelly is like jam but the berries are strained through cheesecloth so the solid or chunky parts are removed and the liquid is transparent,” Blaine explained. “Now, if we didn't mash the berries but left them whole, it would be called preserves.”

“In the British Isles it's different. What we call jello, they call jelly. And what we call jelly, they call jam. I don't know what they call jam....” Kurt said, suddenly surprised that there was a British term he didn't know.

“What's transparent?” Jordan asked in a whisper. He hated asking questions because Katura sometimes made fun of him for asking. She'd rather not know the answer than look uninformed about anything.

“It means you can see through it,” Burt answered, scooping the boy into his arms and setting him down on his lap.

“We're too big to sit on your lap, Grandpa!” Katie shouted.

“You're just jealous that he picked me up this time. You were sitting on his lap just last night!” Jordy bristled.

“Hey now, let's stop the arguing,” Burt admonished the kids.

Katie rolled her eyes and stomped over to her fathers, anxious to help.

“What can I do?” she asked, itching to keep her hands busy since she couldn't fight with her twin.

“I am going to make a batch of jelly now. How about you measure the berries into the pan?” Blaine suggested.

“Thank you, Tatay,” she said, picking up the measuring cup and filling it with berries from the tub Kurt had brought inside. Blaine put some water in with the berries, went back to the table and counted the glass jelly jars, and predicted they had plenty.

Once the berries were simmering, Blaine came back with a bag made of several layers of loose-woven muslin and set it in the sink over another large pan.

“Okay, honey, we need to get the jelly bag wet. Just run it under water until it's thoroughly wet and set it in the colander in the sink,” Blaine directed.

“Why does it need to be wet?” she asked.

“You are so much like your daddy,” he chuckled. “He had to know every little thing with every task I did. Always asking questions.”

“How else was I going to learn anything?” Kurt rebutted, frowning. “You asked plenty of questions yourself when we moved to Ohio, mister.”

Blaine rolled his eyes.

“You have to have it wet because we're going to pour the blackberries into it and if it's dry, a lot of the juice that would go to making jelly would be absorbed by the muslin of the bag instead. If it's already wet, it doesn't absorb as much of the juice,” Blaine explained patiently.

“Oh. So why are you pouring the blackberries into that bag anyway?” she asked next.

“We'll put the wet bag over the colander because we want a clear jelly, so we'll have to catch the solids in something. We'll put the colander and jelly bag over that pan so we collect the juice in it and use it to make the jelly,” Kurt answered, getting a smile from his husband. Blaine had taught him how to make jelly the first year he was on the mountain, over at Warner camp.

While Blaine mashed and stirred the hot blackberries one last time, Kurt went out to the shed and got a large nail and a hammer. He brought them back in and pounded the nail into the log above the door to the pantry.

“Whatcha doin', Daddy?” Jordan asked.

“Wait just a minute and you'll see,” Kurt teased.

Blaine had made sure the jelly bag was open and stretched over the colander, then poured the hot blackberry mixture into the bag. It immediately filled the pan underneath the colander and Kurt switched the pan for another. He poured the clear juice into a container and placed it on the counter.

Blaine picked up the jelly bag, asking Katie to bring the pan. He hung the bag from the nail Kurt had just pounded into the wall, making sure Katura had centered the pan underneath. The blackberry juice was dripping into the pan at a fairly quick rate as the eyes of everyone in the room watched it.

“We'll let it drip for about 2 hours, then come back and cook the jelly. Okay?” Blaine said, smiling at his family.

“Why don't you just squeeze the bag?” Jordy asked.

“First of all, it's hot and you'd burn your hands. Second, while it would still make jelly, squeezing the bag would make the juice cloudy and it's so much prettier if you don't squeeze it. It looks like jewels if the jelly is clear,” Blaine said, thinking of the rows and rows of jelly jars that lined his old cabin shelves in the winter.

“Are we making more jelly? I like chokecherry jelly the best,” Katie opined.

“Yes, we can make any kind of jelly or jam or preserves from the fruit we pick,” Kurt said. He was looking forward to peach preserves himself.

“From our own trees?” Katie asked, looking out the window at the small, skinny trees all over the meadow to the east of the house.

“One day. Most of those fruit trees won't produce fruit for five or six years yet – at least not enough to make jam out of. No, we'll have to go back to Warner Mountain to get most of the fruit. There's a few meadows down the mountain from the Camp where my great-grandma planted an orchard of fruits. They are mostly European fruits: apples, plums, pears, peaches, and apricots. Berries grow all over most of these mountains: wild strawberries, blueberries, some raspberries, mulberries, marionberries, and of course blackberries.”

“There's watermelons and cantaloupe in Grammy's garden,” Katie said helpfully. “And grapes, too!”

“You can't make jelly out of melons, honey,” Burt joined in, laughing.

“We had watermelon pickles,” Jordan added.

Kurt laughed.

“He's got you there, Dad.”

“Can we make watermelon pickles with cherries?” Katura asked, a dreamy smile on her face.

Burt looked at her funny, then turned his gaze to Kurt.

“We make the usual watermelon pickles, but Blaine adds maraschino cherries to them before we can them,” Kurt told his father.

Burt smiled.

“I'd sure like a taste of those,” he said, ruffling his fingers through Katura's long red hair. “You'll save me a few jars of those, won't you, sweetheart?”

“Yes, Grandpa, of course we will. Maybe that will be your Christmas present?” she answered, looking over at her daddy for confirmation.

Kurt put his finger to his lips and smiled, letting her know this was a secret. Katie blushed and nodded.

“How long before we can have blackberry jam on our toast?” Burt said to turn the conversation away from Christmas secrets.

“We'll leave a bowl to use right away, Burt, so you can have it on your biscuits for supper. Would that do?” Blaine asked, a grin on his face. It was well known in the family that Burt loved fresh biscuits slathered with butter and homemade jam.

 

Several hours later, Kurt was pouring the boiling hot clear berry juice into the glass jars. Blaine followed along with the damp towel to wipe off any dribbles. Burt helped Katura pour paraffin on top of each jar and Jordan followed to add the top and ring.

“Now that was a good afternoon!” Burt grinned.

“Yes, Grandpa,” Katura sighed, leaning her head on his shoulder as she sat beside him on the settee in front of the large stone fireplace.

 

“What's for supper, son?” Burt asked when he saw Kurt walk back into the kitchen from the front porch. He took a deep breath, loving the smell of pine that came in on the breeze.

“I had some antelope meat from a pal of ours that I brought with us. I was thinking that we could grill shish kabobs?”

“That sounds great. What can I do to help?” Burt asked.

“Just take a little time to relax, Dad. You don't need to work,” Kurt said, placing his hand on his dad's shoulder. He smiled.

“I can do something, surely. How about I chop some veggies for a salad?” Burt offered and Kurt took him up on it, setting Katura to help her grandfather by putting the prepared veggies into a serving bowl.

“Jordan, how about you? I could use some help with the shish kabobs,” Kurt asked and his son hurried to stand by his daddy to thread pieces of antelope meat, onions, mushrooms, and peppers.

While his son was making the skewers, Kurt mixed olive oil with garlic, ginger root, lemon juice, and soy sauce. After marinating for half an hour, they went out to the new table Cooper and August made for the family. They sat down, chatting away as the twins set the table and Kurt put the kabobs on the grill.

“Where's your hubby?” Burt asked, looking around for his son-in-law realizing he hadn't seen him in a while.

“Go find your tatay,” Kurt told the children, winking at them as they tried to hide their smiles. They ran inside, coming back with butter, jam and their tatay holding a basket of fresh biscuits.

“Oh, those smell so good!” Burt said, eyes sparkling. Blaine winked at his father-in-law, pleased that Burt was so chuffed about the treat.

“Shish kabobs are done, let's dig in!” Kurt joined his family at the table. He smiled, so happy to be there in this beautiful place with these people he loved with all his heart. He let a tear fall and closed his eyes in thanks. He felt a comforting arm around his waist and a kiss to his cheek to remove the tear.

“Are you okay, baby?” Blaine whispered.

“I'm just so happy. To be here with you and the kids, to have my dad here and enjoying himself, it's all I ever wanted. I love you.”

“I love you, too.”


 

 

Later that night . . .

“That was a scary day, with Jordan getting lost,” Kurt admitted, burying his face in Blaine's neck.

“Oh, baby. They're going to be okay, I promise,” Blaine tried to calm his husband.

They were on the balcony outside their bedroom on the northwest corner of the house and the balcony wrapped around from west to north. The hammock they were lying in gave them a panoramic view including the north view from the mountain.

Blaine tightened his grip around Kurt and got a satisfying rub as Kurt moved his hips closer to his husband's body.

“Mmmmm”, he sighed into the embrace.

“I love you so much, my sweetheart,” he murmured into Kurt's ear.

“I love you, too.”

Kurt sat up a little, thinking to move into their bed where there was plenty of room to finish what they'd started that morning before Burt interrupted them. He stopped suddenly.

The night sky had been inky black when he and Blaine had come out to enjoy the cool evening. They stared up at the stars for a good long time, enjoying seeing that something in their life was still the same as it was when they met – and likely was never going to change in their lifetime. But now something was different.

“Blaine? What on Earth is that?” Kurt asked, wonder plainly in his voice. Blaine turned to look and see what was affecting his husband so profoundly.

“Oh, my stars in heaven, that is the Aurora Borealis! The Northern Lights. Let's go get the kids...no, I'll get them, you go wake your dad!” Blaine said excitedly.

 

“I don't want to get up now, it isn't morning!” Katura said, turning in her bed.

“Up now, we're all going to enjoy this. You'll love it,” Blaine assured his grumpy daughter.

Carrying her and holding Jordan's hand, Blaine joined his husband and father-in-law on the balcony.

“Wow, Kurt. I've never seen it so bright!” Burt said, carrying one of the straight-backed chairs over to the north side of the balcony.

“There isn't any ambient light for it to compete with out here,” Kurt said, smiling at his dad. He loved it that Burt had come to stay with them for a while. Blaine loved Burt from the start and Kurt knew that Blaine thought of him as he would his own father, even though he missed his own dad very much.

“What's 'ambient'? Jordy asked, his eyes never leaving the swirling green and blue light in the northern sky.

“It means local, close to,” Kurt replied, “Because there are no street lamps, lights in houses or other buildings, the Northern Lights can appear to shine brighter.”

“Oh, okay.”

Kurt could see that Katie was absorbing the knowledge, too.

Kurt and Blaine got back into the hammock to watch and Jordy snuggled in between them. Katie came close to her grandpa and Burt picked her up, snuggling her close while allowing her to see the sky and the light show.

“What causes it?” Jordy asked, “Because I know nothing man-made could glow that bright for so long.”

“You're right – it isn't electric. Actually, its solar wind pushing electrons and protons into the Earth's upper atmosphere. They lose their energy because of the Earth's magnetic field. They light up the sky when the ionization excites the particles,” Blaine said, smiling because he was proud he remembered what he'd learned in school.

“I'm amazed you recalled that – what with Puck disrupting class on a daily basis,” Kurt chuckled.

“Uncle Puck went to school with you?” Jordy asked. He really liked his cousins Anthony and Sarah and missed being close enough to visit them. Anthony was only a few months younger than the twins and Sarah a little over a year younger. One of the best parts of visiting them was getting to see Uncle Puck, who was always up for anything the kids could think up to do. Plus, they lived next to Uncle Puck's grandmother, Grandma Sophie, who made wonderful baked goodies for the children and spoiled them all rotten.

“Yes, he did. When I went to live with Grandpa Burt and your daddy, I got to meet Puck and Auntie Rachel, Uncle Finn, Auntie Mercedes and Uncle Sam. They were all in high school with me,” Blaine told his twins.

Everyone stopped talking and just watched the light show for a while.

“Remember when we took the twins for their first fireworks show?” Blaine asked Kurt. Kurt gave his husband a nostalgic smile.

Both twins and their grandfather looked at Blaine, eyebrows raised.

“Katie looked up at the bursting fireworks and turned to her daddy and said,”Look, Daddy! The sky is popping corn!”

Kurt, Blaine, and Burt broke into laughter, Burt ruffling his granddaughter's hair. She frowned, a little embarrassed at the attention she was getting. Jordan grinned and rolled his eyes in perfect imitation of his sister.

“Didn't Jordy do anything that dumb, so we can all laugh at him?” Katura asked, crossing her arms across her chest and glaring at her tatay.

“Oh, sweetheart, we aren't laughing at you. It was such a sweet, cute thing to say. Only a smart three-year-old could have thought of that,” Blaine soothed his daughter. He smiled at her as Burt hugged her close.

 

“Look! The colors are changing. It was green and blue, now there's purple and pink,” Jordy whispered, awed by the spectacular colors.

 

“You know, you couldn't see this in the city,” Burt said, hoping it would entice the twins to look at being up on this mountain as a good thing. Neither commented, so Burt wasn't sure he was getting his message to the kids at all.

Both twins began to get sleepy, Katie laid her head on her grandfather's shoulder and closed her eyes, only opening them from time to time to peer at the sky and the dancing colors. Jordy fell asleep between his fathers.

“Let's get them to their beds, the Aurora is just about done,” Burt said, his smile changing as he glanced down at his granddaughter. He lifted her, but Kurt took her from him and held her close in his arms.

“You shouldn't try to lift anything this heavy, Dad. She weighs over 60 pounds now and you aren't supposed to lift more than 40,” Kurt admonished him, shaking his head slightly. “I was at your last cardiology appointment with you, remember?”

Burt blushed, knowing Kurt was right.

“I'm careful, Kurt. Its just that she is so cute and sweet – I just wanted to tuck her in,” Burt mumbled.

“I know, Dad. Come with me and you can tuck her in.”

Blaine picked up Jordan, hefting him up higher so his feet didn't drag.

“And then you can tuck Jordy in, too,” Blaine suggested. Burt turned to give him a huge smile and followed the daddies to the twins' rooms to say a final goodnight.

“I had fun making jam today,” Jordan said in a sleepy voice, giving his tatay and grandpa one of his sweet smiles.

“I'm glad you did. We'll have to think up something cool to do tomorrow,” Burt said, pulling the blankets up over the boy's shoulder. He leaned in to kiss him on the cheek and Blaine followed suit before they left the room. Kurt met them in the hallway.

“You have enough blankets, Dad?”

“Yes, Kurt. The guest room is really comfortable. Thanks for letting me stay,” Burt said, hugging his son and then Blaine before going through the door into his temporary bedroom.

 

“How long do you think he's going to stay this time?” Blaine asked when he was alone with Kurt in their bedroom, snuggled under the covers.

“I suppose until Carol gets home from New York,” Kurt shrugged. He began to wonder if having Burt was beginning to annoy his husband.

“Not that I want him to leave!” Blaine exclaimed, suddenly aware of how the question sounded.

“Yeah, I know what you're saying. While I appreciate the sentiment, eating my breakfast in bed instead of showing you how much I worship your body isn't my idea of a morning alone,” Kurt grumbled.

“He's only done that four or five times. This week,” Blaine said, rolling his eyes in perfect imitation of his husband.

Kurt giggled.

“Good night, sweetheart,” he whispered, holding Blaine close and kissing his neck.

“Sweet dreams, baby.”

 



 

 

Chapter Text

Return to Glory – Chapter Three – The Grandpa

 

For never before in story or rhyme (not even once upon a time) has the world ever known a you, my friend, and it never will, not ever again...

Heaven blew every trumpet and played every horn on the wonderful, marvelous night you were born.
~Nancy Tillman,
On the Night You Were Born


Puck's Garage

Philomath, Oregon

Two months later. . .

 

“Dad, what are you doing?” Kurt asked his father, who was sitting on the bench in front of the garage wearing his signature flannel shirt, new Levi's and his favorite 'Buckeyes' hat. He had retired over a year ago after training Puck to do the books and management of the garage. Puck learned quickly and added motorcycle repairs to the business and it was going so well he'd bought it from Burt.

“Oh – hey, Kurt. I was just taking a walk and thought I'd stop in and see how the guys are doing,” Burt said, looking a bit chagrined. He felt funny having his son chastise him, it wasn't right.

“Dad. I stopped in to visit Noah and Lenore last night after I saw Mr Church about the new project I'm working on. Puck says you're down here almost every day. You're supposed to be retired – why are you still hanging around here?” Kurt said as he sat beside his father and put a hand on his arm.

“They might need me. I know it's mostly motorbikes now, but they still get in enough cars that I can help out,” Burt said in a defensive tone, gesturing with his arms.

“No, they don't need you to stand over them. You know that. Here, let's walk home and get some lunch. Blaine and the kids aren't expecting me until supper time, so you and I have plenty of time to have a nice walk,” Kurt encouraged his father.

To tell the truth, Kurt was getting worried about his dad. Burt certainly didn't need to be hanging around the garage where he was tempted to do some work on the cars. He still had heart disease and although he was as healthy as he could be under the circumstances, he should not over do. Being a working mechanic was overdoing.

“Kurt,” Burt said, walking beside his son on the way back to their house in Philomath, “I just want something to do. Carol has lots of things to do: she plays bridge, goes to her book club, her garden club...you know. She's still volunteering at the free clinic in town. But I can't do that sort of thing. I like to read, but there's only so many hours a day I can sit still and do that. I don't want to play cards and the only gardening I want to do is my own little vegetable garden. Carol took over the rest of the yard and all the flower gardens. So, walking over to the garage is something to do with my time. Why, did Noah complain about me?”

“No, he didn't. He would never complain, you're his hero. But Dad, those men need to get on with their work. When you're there, they listen to your stories or play around with you and don't get their work done. You would never have stood for that when you ran the garage, would you?” Kurt asked, trying to bring his dad to see for himself what Noah was worried about.

“Oh. Yeah, you're right. I guess I've turned into my own grandpa. Boy, that man could spin a yarn,” Burt chuckled. “Okay, I get it, I won't hang around the garage anymore. I'll try to keep at home. Maybe I can learn how to play Bocci Ball with the old geezers at the park.”

Burt hung his head, the thought of becoming one of those 'old geezers' hitting too close to home for comfort. He slowed his steps and let his shoulders drop in defeat as he walked the last block with his son.

Kurt looked at his dad, more worried than ever. Burt was considerably slower than he'd been just five years ago. He saw how his dad just sort of wilted when he saw the problem with being at the garage, his shoulders slumped and the wrinkles in his face were compounded. He looked old and sad.

“Hey, what about getting a dog? I know you love dogs, we can get you a new puppy?” Kurt grasped at the straw, hoping to see the old spark of light in Burt's eye – but it wasn't to be. Burt gave him a wan smile.

“Maybe one day, son, but not right now. I'd have to train it and it would mess up the house. Oh, maybe Carol and I could adopt a little girl? We both had boys, maybe a girl would be a good thing?” Burt postulated. Kurt stopped at a bench in the park and sat down.

“Dad, if the prospect of having a puppy disconcerts you, what do you think having a baby would do to your life? Are you ready for 2:00 am feedings again?” Kurt asked seriously, looking into his father's blue eyes. Burt looked back and Kurt could see the sadness coming down like fog over his dad. It was terrible to see.

“I'm sorry, Dad. I don't want to squash your dreams, but I wonder if having a baby when you're over 60 is a good idea?”

“No, no, of course not. I don't know what I'm thinking. Let's get home. Carol left us a big bowl of salad and the fixings for grilled cheese sandwiches,” Burt suggested as he walked the last few steps home. Kurt walked behind him, not wanting to invite conversation until he'd thought out what he might try to say next.

 


Six weeks later. . .

 

“So, we'll be down in Philomath for a whole week?” Jordan crowed, excited to be able to see his friends.

“Yes, Jordy. Auntie Rachel and Uncle Finn will be visiting for a month starting in September before they go back to New York.” Kurt encouraged him. The kids had been so good about living so far away from civilization without social media and all the games on-line. They both loved their new home – especially since the electricity, gas, and telephone were now hooked up and working.

“Can I hold the baby when it comes?” asked Jordan, eager to cuddle his little cousin, “I forgot, what's its name?” Jordan asked, his eyes pools of liquid brown.

His tatay smiled.

“It is not an 'it'. It's a she and her name will be Adele,” Blaine corrected his son.

“Yeah, Adele. I bet she's gonna be pretty.”

“Of course she will be, Jordy. All babies are pretty,” Katura said with a knowing smile.

“When will the baby be born?” she asked.

“In August. Grandma Carol will be going to New York to stay with Auntie Rachel when she has the baby,” Kurt told her.

Kurt rolled his eyes where only Blaine could see him and Blaine shook his head, laughing silently.

“We better get going or we're going to meet ourselves coming back!” Kurt said and the twins looked at each other. How could you meet yourself? Their dad had all kinds of silly phrases that made no sense whatsoever.

 

~~

The road down the mountain was rather bumpy because it was made of dirt and not paved. While the log house up on Mt Russell now had propane for heating along with running water, plumbing, a generator for electricity, and phone – the road was due to be paved by the end of August and it was still July. Progress was rather quicker on the mountain than it was most other places, mostly due to Kurt's connections to contractors through the architecture firm where he worked.

“Tatay, I don't feel good,” Katura complained, “My tummy hurts.”

“Do you feel sick or is it just pain, sweetheart?” Blaine asked, slowing down and pulling over to the side of the road. There was a space just big enough for the vehicle beside the towering pine trees.

“I'm sick!” she shouted and threw open her door, opening the seatbelt and jumping out to crouch on the side of the road. She had evacuated about half the contents of her stomach before Kurt was beside her, holding her gently.

“Oh, honey, don't cry. You're going to be fine, baby-girl. Are you finished? Do you need to be sick again?” he asked, holding her long red hair away from her face and rubbing her back.

“No, I'm done. Can I have some water?”

“Not a good idea if you were just sick, pumpkin,” Kurt told her.

“Not to drink, just to wash out my mouth,” Katie asked again.

Blaine was out of the SUV, holding out a bottle of water. This was far from the first time Katie had been car-sick. It was almost routine. She didn't appear to be ill, just car-sick, and they had an appointment with her doctor in Philomath in a few days.

“Are you okay, Katie?” Jordan asked, leaning forward and touching her shoulder when she was settled back in the vehicle. Kurt had traded places with her so she was in front now. She was less likely to get sick if she was in front.

“Yes, I think so,” Katie said in a small voice. She sat in the seat, arms around her tummy.

All siblings fight, twins tended to more than others due to the rivalry being the same age, but living alone on the mountain had brought Jordan and Katura closer than most. They truly cared about each other, were not only siblings but the best of friends.

They were more than halfway down the mountain, Blaine thought. She'd probably be okay. Once they got to the road into Philomath she would begin to nibble on a few soda crackers and be fine once they got to their grandparent's house.

 

~~

The twins jumped out of the SUV, Katura a bit slower than her brother, still holding her tummy, and ran into the house to see their grandparents. Katie ran to her Grandpa and was immediately folded into his loving arms. Jordy saw Carol in the kitchen and ran to give her a hug, too.

It was a big, gray house with a separate suite of rooms in the west wing where Kurt and Blaine lived when they were in Philomath. In the main part of the house, where Burt and Carol lived, there was a large farm-style kitchen that was shared by the whole house. There was the main bedroom and three other bedrooms – one of which had been turned into a sort of den for Burt. The other two were used for guests.

Kurt and Blaine carried the luggage up the stairs to the bedrooms in the west wing, leaving suitcases in the twins rooms and then they settled into their own bedroom. Kurt went into the adjoining office and opened the balcony doors to let in the breeze. He loved this house and was so happy that his dad and Carol decided to live here, close to them.

 

Burt and Carol had moved to Washington when the boys got engaged, partly because it was legal for same-sex couples to get married there. When Burt's health had taken a downturn, Kurt talked him into moving to Oregon to be closer and then Burt had bought half of the house.

He'd had the garage in town and taught Puck all about managing it. Now Burt had sold it to Puck and Lenore. He was maybe a bit younger than he had planned to retire, but he had to face reality, and reality said he had to quit working if he wanted to live to a ripe old age. The thought of leaving Carol a widow was too much, she was still young and vibrant, so he would do whatever he could to keep healthy. For her, for Kurt and for Kurt's family. In a way, Burt saw himself as the luckiest man on Earth.

 

~~

Katura was up early the next day. While she liked Dr. Wallace, she was apprehensive about finding out what was wrong with her. She had been getting sick driving to Philomath for two years now and although her dads thought it might just be that she was merely car sick, it might actually be something .

She got dressed in a real dress today – something she rarely did at home since pretty dresses just weren't practical on the mountain. Between the chores around the house and barn – feeding the ponies, chickens, geese, dogs, and goats - she got pretty dirty. She was absolutely thankful when they got the water running and the propane to heat the water so she could take a bath every night.

She walked downstairs to the kitchen to see if she could help with breakfast, but nobody seemed to be up. She hadn't seen Grandpa much yesterday, he'd been away until after her bedtime and now she didn't see any sign of him. Grandpa Burt was usually the first one up.

Well, if there wasn't anyone else up, Katura could cook breakfast. She looked in the pantry and refrigerator for supplies and started the griddle heating.

By the time everyone was assembled in the dining room, Katura had pancakes done and Carol had made eggs and turkey bacon. Jordan set the table and poured the orange juice. Kurt arranged a large bowl of fruit and put it on the table.

 

Grandpa Burt came in just as they sat down to eat.

“Hey, Dad,” Kurt said. “How are you doing?”

“Fit as a fiddle.”

“Where were you yesterday?” Katie asked.

“I was over in Corvalis. I had to get a complete physical and part of that was getting a check-up at the cardiologist,” Burt said. “Everything turned out just fine,” he said, winking at his wife.

“You're certainly in a good mood. What aren't you telling us?” Kurt asked because he knew his dad very well.

“Nothing,” Burt countered, looking guilty.

“Come on, Burt....” Blaine said and Jordan added his own look of concern.

“Just tell them before they make up some awful thing in their minds, Burt,” Carol admonished.

“Okay. You know when you were down here and told me to quit hanging out at the garage?” Burt asked Kurt.

“Yeah...” he blushed. It was still a sore subject.

“Well, it made me stop and think. I wanted to do something with my time. I'm still energetic and I want to do something worth while. I looked into a lot of things, but one really stuck out in my mind. I'd read an article about Buddy Grandparents. It's a program at the hospital where grandpa-aged men, or grandma-aged women I suppose, come and hold babies,” Burt explained.

“Oh, I read about that program!” Blaine said. “The Buddy comes to the hospital and sits and rocks the sick babies. Babies need human touch and sometimes their parents can't be there for some reason, and the nurses are too busy to just sit and rock them, so the Buddy Grandparent holds them. Right, Burt?”

“Exactly. I took the classes and did the part where someone comes with me to show me how to do everything. I passed the tests and now that I've passed the check-up, I start on Monday,” Burt smiled, proud of himself.

“Wow, Dad, that's amazing. Are you sure you're ready for all that?” Kurt asked, looking at his father with pride.

“Yes, I'm sure. It's not like I'll be there alone with them – its at the hospital and most of the babies have monitors and things on them. I just have to push the button and the nurse will be there. I had to learn what to look for to know when to call the nurse.

“I will have either one or just a few babies, so I'll get used to them and know what they need from me,” Burt said.

“Did I have a Buddy when I was in the hospital? I was a sick baby,” Katura asked, her big eyes filling with tears. Blaine reached over and pulled her close, cuddling her next to him and kissing her hair.

“I'm sorry, honey, but we don't know. You were ready to come home with us the day we met you. I'm thinking that if you were sick that you probably had a Buddy Grandparent,” Blaine told his daughter.

“It's time to go, Katie,” Kurt said, looking at his watch.

“Okay, Daddy. Is Jordy coming with me, too?” she asked. Their check-ups were usually scheduled at the same time since they lived up on Mt Russell.

“Not this time. He's staying here with Grandma Carol,” Blaine said.

 

~*~

 

An hour later, Kurt and Blaine held Katura's hands as they left Dr Wallace's office. Once in the car, Blaine found the phone number on the business card Dr Wallace had given him and called, then they were on their way to another doctor's office.

“He can see her in fifteen minutes,” Blaine said, settling into the passenger seat as Kurt turned the engine on.

They drove to the ophthalmologist and went in.

“Hello, Katura. Sit right here in this chair and we will have a look at your pretty eyes, okay?” the doctor asked and gave her a thorough exam.

She put her forehead against the bar on one machine while a puff of air hit her eyes, then she sat at another machine and told the doctor what numbers showed up in little colored pictures. Then she had to tell him what letters appeared on the wall while covering her other eye. Her Tatay had asked if she wanted him to hold her hand, but she was fine doing all of these things. She liked the eye doctor, even though he put stinging drops in her eyes to do another test.

The doctor left the room for a few minutes and spoke on the phone before returning with a few faxed sheets of paper and her fathers. Kurt and Blaine held hands as they sat in the chairs to await the verdict.

“Okay, I spoke to your physician, Dr. Wallace, and I've gone over your tests. You're going to need glasses, Katura. They will help you with the nausea that you experience in the car.”

Katura sighed in relief. She had been so afraid that what she had was something awful like stomach cancer.

 

“Okay. Can they be purple?” Katie asked. She was uncharacteristically shy but with hope in her voice.

“We have a lot to choose from. Suzy can help you choose the frames,” the doctor told her. Blaine stayed to talk to the ophthalmologist while Kurt went with Katura to pick out frames. She did, indeed, find a pair of purple ones.

“They'll be ready by Friday, young lady,” Suzy told her and smiled at Kurt.

 

~~

“How are you feeling about all this, Katie?” Blaine asked as they drove home.

“I'm fine, Tatay. Lots of my friends have glasses, but none of them have purple ones,” Katie smiled. She was tremendously relieved that her stomach problem was really just a vision problem.

“Want to talk about any of it?” Kurt asked, suspicious that his daughter seemed so nervous going into the doctor's office but so light-hearted now.

“No. I'm good. Can I visit Sarah and Anthony while we're here in town?” she asked, referring to Puck and Lenore's children. They were her best friends and Katura missed them the most. “I can help with supper when we get back to Grandpa and Grandma's house.”

 

~~

It had been a good week in Philomath. Burt finished up his classes at the hospital, learning to care for his buddy babies. Katura liked her new glasses and was looking forward to riding home and not getting car sick.

Both Kurt and Blaine had spent a lot of time in the back yard, taking care of the flowers – especially the Star-gazer lilies, their favorite flowers. Both of the men were terribly sentimental and the flowers reminded them of the meadow in back of Blaine's old log cabin where they had fallen in love the summer they were sixteen. Kurt had put Blaine's engagement ring into a stargazer lily for him to find.

~

“Let's go to bed, babe,” Blaine coaxed, standing up and offering Kurt his hand.

Kurt got up, too, and followed Blaine up the stairs to their bedroom. They stopped on the way to tuck the twins in – both of them were sound asleep.

 

In their bedroom, Kurt slowly removed Blaine's clothes, taking time to kiss the warm skin as he pulled shirt, trousers, socks, and briefs off of his husband. The breeze was still coming in the doors to the balcony and bringing with it the strong scent of the flower garden – especially the stargazer lilies.

“Oh, baby, I love you so much...” Kurt whispered as Blaine slowly removed Kurt's clothing – from his shirt, waistcoat, trousers, and so many layers. He finally slipped Kurt's briefs down his legs and gently pushed him down on the bed so he could take the briefs from his ankles.

“I love you, too, and I'll show you exactly how much...” Blane promised as his lips caressed Kurt's neck and down his body.

With the help of lube, warmed in his hand, Blaine was able to open Kurt, so tenderly, making his husband ready for him. Kurt was gloriously responsive, his breathless gasps curling inside Blaine. He could feel his cock getting harder at the thought and knew he was going to have to take his time.

“Will you turn for me?” he whispered into Kurt's ear as he moved to kiss down the tendon in his bicep. He gently rolled Kurt over so he was on his side, facing away from him. His hands swept down Kurt's back, touching and massaging, his lips following along.

“You ready, my love?” Blaine asked softly, his lips just brushing his husband's neck.

“Yes...oh, yes..” Kurt said, his breath quickening as he anticipated what was to come.

Blaine entered him, slowly and ever so carefully. Blaine loved this part – when he breeched the tight sphincter into the warm, amazing slickness inside Kurt. As quiet as Kurt was, Blaine could feel him quiver with need.

“Ohhh...” he moaned quietly, loving it as Blaine pushed further inside.

“Oh, my sweet Kurt...” Blaine moaned louder, but not so anyone in the house could hear them. “Mmmm...you feel so good.”

“Blaine....” Kurt murmured, his body humming, vibrating in tune with Blaine's.

Blaine finally pushed all the way in, still amazed at how Kurt could take all of him. When they were first intimate, so many years ago, it had been almost a year before he was able to bottom out inside his husband. This felt like a delusion, a dream. He pulled back and pushed forward, glorying in the physical feeling as it was quickly taking all the space in his brain.

They made love slowly, Blaine reaching down to cup Kurt's balls and up to feel the satiny warmth of the skin on his cock. He held Kurt gently, moving his hand to stimulate Kurt as they got closer to climax. His breathing became rapid, his nostrils flaring as he struggled to control himself. They didn't often make love with Blaine topping and it always felt new and exciting – every damn time.

Kurt was so responsive, so eager for Blaine to take control, he pushed his back into Blaine's chest and a low moan shook him.

“Blaine...I'm close,” Kurt said in a high voice, his hands balled in the sheets and his face turned to give Blaine a glancing kiss.

“Me, too,” he heard back. The heat came into Kurt's stomach, spreading throughout his body and down his spine. “Oh..now, Blaine, here it comes...” Kurt mumbled as it took him over. He came in bursts of warm liquid that spurted into his husband's hand and onto the towel on the bed in front of Kurt.

“Oh, that's it, baby...” Blaine whispered as he came, too. “Yes! Yes!”

 

After, they lay in bed, each listening to the other as their breaths returned to normal. Their connection was forged in the dazzling and confident times of their youth, but unlike most they had endured, and now their deep and abiding love was a part of them forever.

After a quick clean up, they put their pajamas on, not speaking but knowing they needed to go out onto the balcony – the night stars as much a part of them as their love for each other. Blaine climbed into the hammock and Kurt spread a blanket over him and climbed into his husband's arms.

“I love you, baby,” Blaine whispered, kissing Kurt.

Kurt did the same thing, assuring his husband of his love before kissing Blaine back and lingering along his neck – snuggling close.

“Look, Blaine! I see Orion's Belt” Kurt said, pointing it out in the night sky.



 

 

Chapter Text

Return to Glory – Chapter Four – Buddies

 

No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.

~Aesop, The Lion and the Mouse

 


 

Little Sisters of Mercy Hospital

Philomath, Oregon

 

Burt shifted his feet, tired from being in the Infant Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for so long today. Little Joey didn't want to go to sleep and he cried in Burt's arms.

“What's doing, little guy?” Burt cooed. “Is my hat scaring you? What, you don't like the Buckeyes? I'll wear my Oregon State Beavers hat tomorrow, I promise.”

He took off the hat and laid it on the table, then stepped over to the baby's bed and laid him down. Rewrapping his blanket a little more snuggly, Burt picked him back up.

“Okay, sweetie, let's rock for a while.”

He had just started rocking when the neo-natal nurse, Nan, came in.

“How's our little boy doing?” she asked, glancing at the bank of lights with monitor wires coming out of every plug. “Pretty good from what it's showing me,” she said, smiling at Burt. She hadn't been sure of him when he first came – a retired mechanic dressed in old flannel shirts and faded jeans, an old baseball hat on his head. He hadn't been very talkative and she wondered if he could be gentle enough to handle premature babies.

Burt had surprised her. He remained calm through any emergency, clear-headed and not afraid of any situation. He had patience with babies that could cry for hours at a time, soothing and calming even the most volatile ones. Plus, she'd found out through the grapevine that Burt's wife was Carol Hudson, one of the volunteer nurses in the hospital that worked in the free clinic.

Nan changed an IV bag and checked the IV site on the top of the baby's head. Putting an IV there tended to upset the parents, but it was an easier site for the baby – less chance of it being pulled out by flailing hands and it hurt less. Joey was a baby born of a drug-addicted mother and she had given up her rights at his birth. He had a long row to hoe, as they said, but he seemed to be a fighter. Nan sure hoped he could be adopted soon. Babies did better if they had someone to love them from the beginning, although Burt spent hours a day with this one.

“He doing okay now?” Burt asked, smiling at Nan.

“Yeah, his stats are doing well. He's really improved since they assigned you to him. Great work, Burt,” she said.

“I just rock him, I don't do much of anything,” Burt said. He was in awe of nurses and all they did for patients, even more so since he married Carol.

“Joey needs someone to rock him, to touch and hold him. It makes all the difference.” Nan smiled again and left the room.

Burt sat back down in the oak rocker and cuddled Joey closer. He wanted to kiss him on the head, but with the IV there he hesitated. Could germs get in that way? Better not chance it. He rubbed the baby's cheek with his thumb and Joey turned towards him, mouth open looking for his lunch. Just as Burt was going to get up to ask Nan if it was time, she came back through the door with a freshly warmed bottle.

“Do you think Joseph might want a drink?” she asked, handing the bottle to Burt.

“Yep, look at him go,” Burt said, watching as the baby slowly drank tiny sips of milk. He never drank a lot at once, never sucking very hard, but he was trying.

“Looks like he's getting stronger, Burt. What do you think?”

“He does, it still isn't much, but it's better than last week,” Burt said, looking proud of his little charge.

“Great job,” Nan said before hurrying out to her next patient.

 

Joey drank most of the bottle, falling asleep twice. His doctor had told Burt to wake him up if he hadn't taken in half of the bottle. The little guy got tired easily, but he needed the nutrition more than he needed sleep. It had been getting better every week. This time when he fell asleep, Burt put him in his incubator and closed the door. He was still too tiny to sleep in the room air, he needed the warmth and the oxygen of the incubator.

 

“Good night, little guy,” Burt said softly and walked to the door, checking off on the sheet there how much he drank and what time Burt left.

 

He had one more baby to rock before he left for home. Daisy.

Daisy was born to a very young girl, barely turned fifteen. She was developmentally disabled and nobody had known she was pregnant until the day Daisy was born into a toilet and another resident called for help. Nobody even knew how the girl got pregnant since she was in a care home – which was what they called the institution where she had lived. She now lived in another, kinder, home in another state. That was all Burt knew about the circumstances of Daisy's birth, and most of that he learned from hearing people talking in the hall outside the baby's room.

Daisy had spent these first ten months of her life in the hospital, in the Newborn ICU. She now had her own room, down the hall from NICU. She had been very sick since birth, having had no prenatal care and contracting a serious infection from the circumstances of her birth.

She wasn't expected to live to her first birthday because of all of her disabilities. Her last two Buddy Grandparents had asked to be moved to another baby, even though they had been in the program a long time. Nan had finally suggested Burt might try and he agreed, even after he met Daisy.

 

“Hey, darling girl,” Burt said, coming over to pick up the little one. He pulled back the blanket that Daisy had wiggled up over her face. She got a smile on her face when she heard Burt's voice. Even after just two weeks, she recognized his voice. He looked down at her, checking to see that all of her monitor wires were in place. He looked at her sweet smile and to the skin over where her eyes should have been. He was used to seeing her now and recognized her for what she was – a sweet baby that only wanted to be loved.

“Are you hungry, sweetheart?” he asked, not expecting an answer. The doctor told him that her brain had not formed fully and she could have reactions to stimulus, such as being hungry, happy, cold, etc. but she wouldn't be able to learn to talk. It didn't matter to Burt, Daisy could love. He could see it in her every day.

He pushed her call button and Nan arrived in a little while with her lunch. Daisy still had formula, she couldn't swallow anything but liquid.

“Okay, honey, let's have lunch,” Burt coaxed, touching her lips with the bottle. Daisy latched on to the nipple and drank quickly. “That's my girl!” he said in a happy tone, glad she now had a healthy appetite.

After feeding her the bottle, he changed her nightgown, putting on a light pink one with soft ruffles and placing the one wet with dribbled milk in the hamper. He snapped on a bright-colored bib to catch any drool and sat her on his lap, cuddled close to him. He got out a book and started to read.

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. My son, Kurt, loved this book when he was a little boy. One winter morning, Peter woke up and looked out the window...” Burt read Daisy the story of the little boy that walked to his grandmother's house on Christmas Eve to accompany her back to his apartment with the traditional mac-and-cheese that was their family's tradition.

Daisy was still awake, reaching for Burt's shirt buttons. She loved to play with them, holding each one in her tiny fingers, then scrabbling to find the next one.

“You're smarter than they think you are, aren't you, Daisy?” Burt asked. She turned her ear towards him, seeming to know he was talking to her.

“Maybe you'd like to play with a toy?” he asked, guiding her hands to touch a fabric and plastic dog with all sorts of different textures. She knew the toy and got a smile, searching for the ear that made a crinkling sound. It showed signs of wear because she would lay for hours and rub the ear, making the sound. Daisy couldn't sit up by herself and it wasn't safe to leave her propped up, so she loved having Burt come to hold her. He let her play with the doggie while he changed her diaper, then picked her up again.

“Here's another story, Daisy. The Very Hungry Caterpillar. 'In the light of the moon a little egg lay on a leaf. One Sunday morning the warm sun came up and pop! Out of the egg came a tiny and very hungry caterpillar.' Hey, no chewing on the book, honey. Let's chew on the doggie instead,” Burt coaxed. He didn't even have to read the story anymore, he knew the words by heart from all the times he'd read it to her. He tried some new books, thinking she might like the change, but she got a frown and fretted when he read anything other than her few favorites, so he read those.

After a while, Daisy got sleepy and yawned. She laid back and cuddled close to Burt, falling asleep. He took the girl over to her bed and placed her in it, making sure the soft sheepskin pad was in place under her sheet. She'd gotten bedsores before Burt got there and he was very careful so she wouldn't get them again. This little girl didn't deserve anything like that, she had enough challenges in her life.

Just as he was signing the check sheet at her door, the neo-natal doctor came in.

“Hey, Dr. Leslie, how's our girl doing?”

“Oh, Burt. Good to see you. Daisy is doing as well as can be expected. She's eating better, but we aren't seeing a lot of other changes. You're a good man to keep coming to be with her. It's making a difference.”

“Well, that's good, she my best girl, don't tell my wife,” Burt kidded. The doctor got a concerned look on his face.

“Burt, don't fall in love with this baby. She isn't going to see her first birthday and I don't want you to take it too hard. I know, trust me,” he said and walked in to see the baby.

Burt walked down the hall to his locker to get his coat. How could the doctor say such things? Didn't he know that everything deserves to be loved, even a sightless baby that was terminal? Maybe he'd been at his job too long. But Burt had seen Dr. Leslie sitting and rocking Daisy more than once. Burt knew then that the man was just trying to look out for him. He sighed at how unfair life sometimes is and took the stairs to the main floor to wait for Carol. He decided to take her out to dinner tonight.

 


Mt Russell, July 2025

 

“Race you to the meadow!” Katura shouted as she ran past her tatay. Blaine began to run but it joggled the picnic basket and he didn't want to spill their lunch.

“I'll meet you there,” he shouted and stopped to repack the basket.

“Go, catch up to Katie, I can take these,” Kurt encouraged Jordan, taking the fishing poles and tackle box from his son. The dogs, Lucy and Scout ran between the twins, wagging their tails.

Kurt juggled the load along with the basket he was carrying.

“Wanna race?” Blaine asked as Kurt caught up with him. Kurt laughed, bumping Blaine's shoulder.

“Maybe not today. I'm getting too old to run with a full bundle of picnic supplies”, he said, grinning at Blaine. They walked slowly to the meadow a quarter mile up the mountain.

When Blaine chose the site for their new house, he took into consideration all of the features he wanted to have close by. They had a small creek running in back of the house with a pond at the far end of the lea. There were trees close to the house but not too close – they needed a lot of sun for the gardens. The goat and livestock barns along with the chicken coop were across the creek and there were plans for the children to help with building a log bridge over the water to make it easier in the winter to reach the barns.

They lived just a short distance from the blackberry bushes, raspberry shrubs, and strawberry field. Near the house were mulberry trees and in the new orchard were apple, peach, and pear trees, hazelnut bushes, and an almond tree. Mulberry trees grew all over the mountain.

Today they were headed to the meadow up the mountain – a perfect sea of soft green grass with a stream running to the east of it. There were trees across the meadow, but mostly it was a place to run and play and have a picnic.

They reached the meadow and Kurt began pulling the blankets out of the bag. Jordan joined him, taking the opposite corners and spreading it under a tree.

“Let's go catch some lunch,” Kurt said, untangling the fishing line on one of the poles. They all went down to the stream, Blaine helping the kids to put their flies and a bubble on their lines.

“Spread out, you'll get your lines tangled together,” Kurt directed.

“Tell us how Tatay taught you to fish,” Jordy asked.

“He was hopeless!” Blaine laughed. “I taught him to tie a royal coachman on a really large hook – just for practice. He insisted on using the fly in the river by the old cabin.”

The twins laughed, knowing that it took a very small fly for that stream.

“But who caught the record trout for that stream, Blaine?” Kurt looked over with a lifted brow.

“You did. With my coaching,” Blaine answered, smiling good naturedly at his husband. “It was a Chinook salmon, not a trout,” he whispered to the kids.

“I gave it to Shannon,” Kurt said, smiling back at Blaine.

“You did, and we ate it for supper the day your dad came to get you and take you home to Ohio,” Blaine sighed. It was a very troubling time and he didn't like to think about it.

 

“Okay, let's get busy fishing. I hope you haven't scared all the fish away,” Blaine said, pointing to a few places that might be best for fishing along the stream. Everyone went to the stream and they sat quietly, waiting for a fish to strike. In spite of it being noon, the fish were hungry and it didn't take long for them to bring in six pretty trout. They moved downstream a bit and gutted the trout, away from the stream and burying the guts so it didn't attract bears or other larger mammals.

Going back to the picnic area, they got a fire going and pan-fried the fish. Kurt got out the rest of the food: biscuits and blackberry jam, a fresh salad his dad's kitchen garden, slices of goat's milk cheese, and lemonade in a glass jar with ice and sprigs of mint.

 

The children cleaned up the camp site, making sure to bury the remains of the fish away from the blankets. They were still a bit energetic and chased each other around the meadow, the dogs joining in. After a while Kurt got up, pulling Blaine up with him and they chased the twins, too. It wasn't a game with rules, just fun running in the sun.

They walked by the side of the stream and came to a semi-circular pond.

“Do you know how this pond was formed?” Blaine asked the children. They looked curious but neither answered.

“The bank of the bend in a river or stream erodes while the opposite bank is built up with silt and dirt, then after a long time it becomes more and more curved into a crescent shape. Eventually the neck of the meander gets narrower and narrower until the river cuts through where it used to be – leaving a curved pond that is no longer connected to the river. It's called an oxbow. Understand?” Blaine asked, smiling at the twins as they looked at him with wonder in their eyes. He thought about the day his own father told him about oxbow lakes and the nostalgia brought tears to his eyes. He wished his dad could have seen him with Kurt and the twins – he'd have loved them.

Kurt could see the change come over Blaine and distracted Jordy and Katie by walking over to the clear and still pond. He picked up a few round, flat stones and threw one with a sideways arc. The stone skipped over the calm surface twice before sinking.

“Oh!” came twin gasps of awe as Katie and Jordan watched.

“Do it again, Daddy!” Katie encouraged.

Kurt took another stone and skipped it twice. Blaine came up with a few of his own stones and skipped one twice and the second he managed to skip it four times before it slid to the bottom of the pond.

“Tatay! Tatay! Wow!” Jordan said, grinning at his father's prowess.

“Show off,” Kurt grumbled, rolling his eyes as he gathered a few more stones. He motioned Katura closer and put a rock in her hand, showing her the arc to throw it and the force necessary to hit her goal. She threw it straight to the bottom of the pond, no skipping at all. In some children this would break their will to triumph, but Kurt knew the failure would just goad her to try until she could do it.

“Can you show me, Tatay?” Jordan asked, smiling at Blaine. Of course he agreed and showed Jordan the kind of flat, round rocks that worked the best. They spent half an hour learning to skip rocks, at last both of the children had skipped at least three skips and were overjoyed at their success. As they got ready to leave, Blaine took a last rock and threw it just right – achieving five skips and the applause of his husband and children. On that happy note, they proceeded back along the trail to the trees surrounding the meadow.

 

They walked along, Kurt holding Jordan's hand and Katura holding Blaine's. Kurt let go when he found a tree with smooth leaves – an aspen – and picked a leaf.

“I used to do this with leaves from the lilac bushes that grew in my yard in Ohio,” Kurt said to the kids. They watched as he pulled the leaf tightly between his thumbs and blew across the leaf, as if it were a reed on a woodwind instrument. It gave a loud shrieking sound and the twins were entertained, wanting to get their own aspen leaf instruments. They tried to play a tune, but that proved impossible.

The four of them, along with the dogs, went back to the blanket and Blaine started to look for a four-leaf clover in the bunch that were growing next to the blanket. As hard as they tried, nobody found one. Kurt picked a pile of the flowers and took one, piercing the stem at the far end with his fingernail and threading another clover flower stem into the hole. He pierced that stem with his fingernail, threading another flower until he had a string of the clovers. He picked some leaves and threaded them along with the flowers on several stems, then connected the two ends and placed the 'crown' on Blaine's shiny black curls. Blaine smiled and gave him a kiss.

“Oh, I want a flower crown!” Katie squealed, “Please, Daddy.”

“I'll teach you how to make one, then you can do it yourself,” Kurt offered, gathering a pile of clover flowers. He showed her how to pierce the stem with her fingernail, then string the next clover flower. She caught on quickly and was working on a flower crown when Jordan went to a maple tree and gathered some leaves. He sat down next to his dad and used the same technique to make a maple-leaf crown for Kurt.

Kurt was delighted and grinned, happy that his son had shown such imagination. Katie finished her clover crown and put it on Jordan as Blaine finished one for Katie. They all laughed and lay back on the blankets to rest in the summer sunshine.

~

“Look, Tatay, a dragon!” Jordy said, pointing at a puffy white cloud in the sky. Blaine laughed and pointed at another huge cloud.

“Look, that must be his castle – see the door opening over the moat?” Indeed, the cloud did appear to be a castle next to the blue sky moat.

“I see a fat dog. Look! It looks like Lucy, but fatter,” Katura joined in, pointing at her idea of a dog. By this time the dragon had drifted and reformed into a new shape.

“Could that be a bear? Like a polar bear, white and puffy?” Jordan said. Katie frowned at him.

“No, that has to be a dinosaur, it has a long, fat tail. Polar bears don't have tails like that.”

“Oh! Katie, that isn't a dinosaur. It looks more like . . . . “

“....a buffalo!”

“....a rhino!”

“....a Christmas tree!”

 

They all laughed, arguing about what the clouds were forming next. They lay on the blankets, imagining a whole new world in the clouds and it was a while before they noticed how dark the clouds had become. The first drops had fallen in their faces before anyone thought they might need to get home before the rain really and truly started.

“That's cold, Daddy,” Katie complained as the rain came down harder and they gathered their things to run back to the house.

It let loose with a huge cloudburst, the cold rain coming down in buckets.

“Here, get under the blankets,” Kurt said, holding one out to Blaine and gathering Jordan closer. Blaine unfurled his blanket and Katie ran to him, grateful for the warm woolen blanket.

 

Getting home, everyone took a hot shower and got into warm clothes, then met in the main room, sitting on the settees that August and Cooper made for them out of willows from the marshy land down the mountain.

Blaine lifted a metal mesh basket from the wall. It was connected to a long metal handle. Kurt went to the pantry and brought over a jar of seeds and poured them into the basket, then set some butter to melt on the back of the wood stove.

“Oh! Popcorn!” Jordan shouted, a smile on his face.

“Yeah!” Katie said, bouncing on the settee. The twins got lemonade for everyone and sat down next to their parents to eat the treat.

“That was a good day, Daddy and Tatay,” Katie said, smiling at her fathers.

“As good as a day at the arcade with your friends?” Blaine asked.

“Let's not get carried away...” Katie rolled her eyes.

“No, it was. Better than the arcade. Better than the mall, even,” Jordan said, smiling at his fathers. “I love fishing for trout.”

Kurt and Blaine laughed.

“Well, you're in luck. Auntie Lenore and Uncle Noah are bringing Anthony and Sarah to visit next Saturday,” Kurt announced. The twins clapped and bounced on the settee.

“I missed them!” Katie gushed, happy her friends were coming to visit. “Are they coming to stay or just for a day?”

“For a whole week, sweetheart. We knew you missed them,” Blaine said, reaching over to run his fingers through Katie's long red hair.

“I did. Jordy did, too,” she said, leaning her head on Blaine's shoulder.

Jordy nodded his head and snuggled into Kurt's side.

They sat in front of the fireplace, eating popcorn and drinking cold lemonade - warm and happy after the afternoon in the meadow.


 

“The twins are finally asleep,” Kurt announced as he walked into the bedroom he shared with his husband.

“Good to hear. I let Lucy and Scout outside for a last run and they're asleep in their beds in the kitchen. I think it was a good day for everyone,” Blaine smiled, his eyes twinkling at Kurt.

Kurt smiled back, loving the sparkle that Blaine had in his eyes. It was one of his favorite things about Blaine.

“I think it was a tiring day. My dad always said that a tired child was a good child,” Kurt said.

“True. And it's true of dogs, too.”

Kurt nodded as he removed his shirt, shaking it out and placing it in the hamper. He noted that they needed to do laundry soon, the hamper was getting full. While his mind was full of chores he needed to do, Blaine had removed all of his own clothes and had slipped over to lock the bedroom door before turning out the light.

“Hey, I wasn't done getting pajamas on...” Kurt complained, but warm hands on his hips made him stop and turn.

“It's okay, baby, I'll help you get these off,” Blaine purred, helping Kurt to sit back on the bed while he pulled the jeans and underwear off of his legs, followed by his socks.

Kurt hummed, pleased that Blaine was in the mood. He had hesitated, thinking Blaine might be too tired, but apparently he wasn't that tired at all.

They made their way up the bed, laying their heads on pillows and kissing.

“Oh, Blaine. I could kiss you all day long....” Kurt whispered.

“You have...kissed me all day long I mean,” Blaine whispered back, making Kurt laugh.

“Are we getting older?” Kurt wondered.

“Well, yes, everyone is – but that's not what you meant, is it?” Blaine asked, but kept kissing Kurt's neck and down the tendons to his clavicle.

“I wonder sometimes if we'll ever get tired of this, of intimacy? I still want you all the time, babe, but will that fade someday? I didn't know my grandparents very well, so I can't use them as an example,” Kurt said, pulling back for a moment to look in Blaine's eyes. All he saw was the deep love and devotion that his husband always had in his beautiful eyes.

“I guess we could ask Grandma Sophie, Puck's grandma. She was married for over 50 years, she would know – but as far as I'm concerned, I'll always love you and I cannot imagine a day I won't want to touch you, kiss you, make love to you,” Blaine assured him, kissing him deeply.

Kurt kissed back, calm again and ready for love. He pulled the blankets up to keep warm. The air was chilly in the cool mountain springtime. He pulled Blaine close so he could feel his warm skin against him. He slid his hands between them, cupping his husband's balls and stroking his shaft gently, feeling his soft skin slipping over his taut muscle.

“I love you, baby,” Kurt whispered, leaning close to kiss the head of his husband's penis and slowly slide it into his mouth. Blaine took in a sharp breath, not quite expecting that this early. He wasn't opposed to it, though, and sighed out a quiet moan. Kurt pressed with his tongue against the large vein that ran down the front of the shaft and hummed his praise of how hard Blaine was.

“NNNggngh,” Blaine let out, not wanting to be too loud but unable to be quiet as the heat rushed like fire through his veins. “Oh, Kurt, yessss.”

Kurt felt him get harder and backed off. He wanted the night to last a lot longer.

“That's better...I want to do that to you, Kurt, before we finish. You are the best in the whole world at sex,” Blaine flattered his lover.

“How do you know?” Kurt asked.

Blaine sat up and looked at Kurt.

“What?”

“How do you know I'm the best? Have you ever had sex with anyone else? Ever?”

“You know I haven't, what's your point?” Blaine asked, frowning and leaning back to study Kurt's face in the moonlight.

“That you don't know if we're the best since neither of us ever had sex with anyone else. You'll never know. We might be awful at it, really bad, and never know.”

Blaine gasped and stared at Kurt.

“So, you think we need to go fuck a bunch of random guys – or girls? - just to prove we are the best? Shit! Are you that unsatisfied with me, Kurt? Why am I just now learning that my beloved husband wants to fuck other people!” Blaine shouted.

“No! No, baby, I was kidding you. Come here,” Kurt said as he cuddled Blaine close to his naked body. He stroked his head, his fingers lost in the wild curls.

“Then why did you say that?” Blaine asked, still sounding a bit miffed.

“I don't know. I started out kidding and it just went the wrong direction. I honestly didn't mean a thing by it. I promise. You are the best for me and if there is anyone more skilled or better in some way? I don't want to know about it. I love you, Blaine, more than life itself. Okay? Do you believe me?” Kurt asked, his eyes studying Blaine's to see his answer.

“Yes, I believe you. I love you just as much. I'll prove it to you...”

They lay back under the blanket, cuddling close and kissing for a while, just touching and looking into each other's eyes in the dark room, the moonlight streaming in to light their faces.

Kurt kissed down Blaine's chest, stopping to pay attention to Blaine's sensitive nipples. He moaned softly at the stimulation, but before Kurt went any further, he pressed Blaine to the bed, belly down, and massaged his shoulders. He went down his spine, pressing and rolling the muscles until Blaine let out a moan. Kurt moved his hands further, squeezing the round muscles on Blaine's butt, massaging them deeply and then backing off to a caress. He knew Blaine loved to have him play with these muscles so he continued until Blaine was relaxed.

Then he began kissing Blaine, starting at his neck and working his way down his spine.

“Oh, baby, that feels so good, you are so good for me...”

“Mmmmmm...”

Kurt continued, using his mouth to massage the spine, one bone at a time. He rubbed the skin beside his spine, massaging his ribs and waist, down to his buttocks where he kissed the round orb and settled down between Blaine's legs. He licked down the crack, pulling the two sides apart gently as he went.

Blaine came unglued, moaning and trying so hard not to move too much as his desire to rut against the towel in the bed got harder to control.

“Oh, Kurt...yesssss...” he moaned, which affected Kurt as he tried to concentrate. His heart was pounding and his fingers trembled as he held Blaine open. He could tell how much his husband was loving this – the moans and words, his balls now held tightly to his body...

Kurt continued to lick and suck lightly, entering the sphincter just a bit. He finally pushed his husband's knees towards the top of the bed and pushed his tongue in as far as possible, pulling out only to do it again and again.

“Stop, Kurt...stop. Please, I want you – I want your cock in me as deep as you can, please...” Blaine begged and Kurt complied. He set Blaine's legs back on the bed and grabbed the lubricant.

“Do you want me to be in front or behind you? Or do you want to fuck me?” Kurt asked as he pushed his fingers into Blaine and rubbed his prostate.

“Can I do you, Kurt? Are you up to that?” he asked. It wasn't often the Kurt offered to receive and the thought of it excited Blaine even more.

“Yes, I'd love that,” Kurt admitted, moving so Blaine could get in back of him. He got some lube and buttered his fingers, moving Kurt to lay on his side as he slowly and gently slid a slick finger into his anus and rubbed, looking for his prostate. He knew when he found it because Kurt jumped. After a long, deep massage, Blaine pulled back and wiped the lubricant off of his skin.

“You okay, babe?”

“Yeah, I'm fine, go ahead...”

Blaine laid down beside Kurt and pushed him onto his stomach, rubbing his back to relax him. Kurt did whatever Blaine directed and was resting when Blaine leaned down and parted his buttocks, licking slowly from his testicles to his spine. The noise that came out of a surprised Kurt almost made Blaine cum.

“Oh, Blaiiinnneee....” he whispered, the shock still evident as Blaine went back to his work, licking slowly and thoroughly. He kept his tongue there, running it around the sphincter again and again, knowing just how good it felt. He could tell that Kurt was trying not to rut against the towel, but it was instinct.

“Here. Kurt...get up on your knees,” Blaine asked, helping him to get in position, then leaned down to suck first one then the other testicle into his warm mouth. He tongued each one, then ran his tongue between them and back to penetrate the sphincter. Kurt was shaking and Blaine ran his long finger in, finding his prostate and massaging it while stroking him with his other hand.

“Stop, my darling, stop. I don't want to cum unless you're inside me. Please,” Kurt begged.

Blaine repositioned Kurt, moving him onto his back so he could see him when he pushed into him.

“Are you ready?” Blaine asked, gazing into Kurt's blue eyes.

“Yes, make me feel it, Blaine, make me feel it all...”

Blaine slicked his cock with more Astroglide, wiping his left hand off on a towel and leaning onto his arm before concentrating on entering Kurt very gently and slowly. Kurt moaned with every inch Blaine pushed inside, loving the stretch and pressure. Blaine held his breath, the slow movement was practically torture but oh, so necessary. He closed his eyes for a moment, feeling each inch – the warmth and velvety smoothness of Kurt was so good. Blaine couldn't believe it.

“Ah...Ohhhh...it is so good, Blaine. You are so amazing. I love you so much, babe.”

“I love you, too, Kurt. More than my life is worth,” Blaine cooed.

“I can't hold on much longer, are you close?” Kurt asked. He was pushing back as Blaine thrust and his eyes were dark with lust.

Blaine held Kurt's cock with his hand still covered in Astroglide. He held tightly, moving to a rhythm he knew would help get Kurt off. He thrust gently, but kept the pounding rhythm, holding himself up as he stroked Kurt and listened to his heart race.

“Oh, Blaineeeee, please...”

“Please what, baby? I'll do anything you want, what do you need?” Blaine asked, trying to hold back and help Kurt into the point of no return.

“You come first...I want to feel you,” he begged.

“Okay, baby,” Blaine agreed, pumping harder and closing his eyes for a moment, he let the fire consume him and suddenly he was cumming deep inside Kurt. He hadn't even finished when he felt hot jizz all over his hand. He kept thrusting and pumping his hand until Kurt put his hand over it to stop him.

“Oh, Blaine....you are the best, I know. I love you so much, baby....” Kurt said, laying back and closed his eyes.

Blaine lay beside him for a few moments, then reached for the wet towel he had put by the bed.

 

~

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Return To Glory – Chapter Five – Visitors


But all the magic I have known. I’ve had to make myself.”
~ Shel Silverstein,
Where The Sidewalk Ends

 

 

Early June

Mt Russell, Oregon

 

Jordan was so excited that he was running around the front yard, whooping and chasing Lucy and Scout.

“Are they coming soon?” he asked, looking towards the porch where his fathers were lounging on the wooden chairs.

“Yes, Jordy, soon,” Kurt reassured him. Lenore and Puck were on their way with their two children, Anthony and Sarah. They were spending a week with the Anderson-Hummels in the log house.

“You grew up with Auntie Lenore, didn't you?” Katura asked her Tatay.

“Yes, darling, I did. We were the only two children in Warner Camp, so we played together and did school lessons, too. Mrs Warner, Lenore's mother, taught us,” Blaine said, smiling at his daughter.

“So, where was it again where Daddy grew up? New York City with Auntie Rachel?”

“No. He did grow up with Aunt Rachel - but in Lima, Ohio. Quite a ways from New York,” he explained to Katie. It was probably hard for them to visualize the map since they had never been farther from Mt Russell than the ocean.

“I grew up with Noah,” Kurt told his daughter, “We lived down the block from each other. We met Rachel when we were in high school. Do you remember Mercedes and Sam?” Kurt asked.

“Oh, yeah. At our birthday party with the ponies, they had a new baby and I got to hold her,” Katura replied with a sweet smile. She loved babies.

“Yes. We knew them in high school, too. We all sang together in Glee Club. When your Tatay came to Ohio to live with us, he joined the chorus, too,” Kurt went on. It was a bit of a confusing mess, but the kids were old enough to understand most of it. He and Blaine had told them the story of how they met – Kurt being on the train car that ended up in Warner Lumber Camp when he was sixteen. They soft-pedaled the gory parts, when Kurt was hit with a broken bottle and left for dead in the train car, the boys that did that to him were sent to prison on assault and hate crime charges.

Katura and Jordan had their share of prejudice in school in Philomath because their parents were in a same-sex marriage, but they weathered it and it didn't seem to have left any permanent problems. Kurt often wondered if living on the mountain and being home-schooled was a relief to them, but they never said anything like that and Blaine didn't think so. Still, who knew what went on in the minds of children? Kurt doubted his own father knew most of what went on in his mind at that age.

“Is that them?” Jordan yelled, rushing over to take his sister's hand to go down the driveway to greet them.

Lenore got out of the SUV, Puck helping her as she held her huge belly. Blaine and Kurt stared at her for a few moments before they recovered their surprise and remembered it was rude to stare. Sarah and Anthony jumped down from their places in the back seat, their big German shepherd following.

“Don't let the dog out....” Puck shouted, but it was too late. Lucy and Scout ran up, sniffing while Harley wagged his tail. The dogs knew each other but went through this ritual every time they met up again. The three of them took off, running down to the end of the meadow and back.

“They're fine, dear. Can you just help me to the house?” Lenore asked, kissing Kurt and Blaine on their cheeks as she went up the stairs. “Is the plumbing fixed?”

“Yes, Lenore, the toilets flush,” Blaine sniggered, remembering that they had an outhouse the last time Lenore visited.

“Thank the lord....” he heard her say as she went into the house.

“It's just past the kitchen down the hall . . . “ Blaine called to her retreating back.

Puck was back at the SUV, helping his grandmother out of the vehicle.

“Grandma Sophie!” Kurt called, rushing over to take her arm. Blaine took the other, gently helping her up the stairs to a comfortable overstuffed chair on the veranda.

“What a welcome surprise. Puck didn't tell me he was bringing my favorite girl,” Kurt flattered the old woman. She smiled at his antics and placed a kiss on his cheek.

“It's so good to see you,” Blaine added, patting her hand as he sat next to her.

“Good to see both of you, too. It's a very long way up here to your aerie,” she laughed.

“What's an aerie?” Jordy asked in a stage whisper.

“It's an eagle's nest, honey. I meant it was far up in the air here,” Grandma Sophie said, smiling.

Puck stopped on the porch to sit with Kurt and Blaine. He sighed.

“Everything okay?” Kurt asked.

“Yeah, Lenore's just at the stage where she has to pee every ten minutes. I think we stopped half a dozen times coming up the mountain. It might be well-maintained dirt road, but it's a bumpy, twisty road and takes a while to get here. I don't mind stopping for her – but she thinks I do. Argh! Then the kids tease her and I don't have to tell you.... Lenore doesn't take to teasing very well,” Puck said quietly.

“Ah...when were you going to tell us you are having another baby?” Blaine asked, a bit stunned at seeing Lenore so pregnant.

“Now?” Puck shrugged. “I would have thought Carol or Burt would have told you.”

“Nope. Oh, well, I'm happy for you. When is she due?” Kurt asked, patting his friend on the back.

“The end of August. And it's MY fault Lenore is pregnant in the heat of the summer. Just ask her,” he rolled his eyes and laughed, but not with a great deal of humor.

 

Lenore was back, coming out to sit in the shade of the porch. She took Puck's hand and kissed his lips quickly before sitting down next to him. Puck smiled at his beautiful wife with her long blonde hair and big blue eyes.

“Can we go to the back meadow? We'll take the dogs with us,” Jordan asked, grinning from ear to ear.

“Yes, but....” Blaine looked over at Puck to get a nod. “Yes, but stay within whistle range, okay? Supper isn't far off and you need to set the table.”

“Give Sarah and Anthony whistles, there's several hanging next to the back door,” Kurt called to his children. It was a rule in their house that anyone going into the forest or meadows had to wear a whistle in case of emergency.

“Okay, Tatay, we will be within whistle range. Yes, Daddy, I'll get Sarah and Tony whistles to wear,” Jordy said as he took off to catch up with the others.

 

~

“What can I do to help with supper?” Sophia asked, walking into the kitchen to help Blaine and Kurt.

“Nothing, we're fine,” Blaine said, bringing a chair for the elderly woman to sit in. Puck had gone with Lenore to put their suitcases in their rooms. Grandma Sophie had a bed set up in Kurt's office and Lenore and Puck were in the large guest room. All four of the kids were going to sleep in sleeping bags on the living room floor.

Grandma didn't sit down. She walked over to the counter, picking up the vegetable peeler and started peeling the pile of potatoes in front of her.

“I cannot just sit and watch the world go by, honey. I need to be useful. Now, are we having mashed potatoes or oven browned?” she asked, looking at Blaine.

“Oven-browned to go with the ham,” he smiled. He loved Grandma Sophie.

They worked together, the smells of the delicious food permeating the house.

 

“Should I go try to find the kids?” Puck asked as he came down the stairs towards evening.

“Here, just blow this – they'll come running,” Kurt told him, handing the man his silver whistle. A few minutes later and they heard the piercing whistle. It wasn't long before four children came scampering in the back door, hair wind-blown and skin sun-kissed.

“Oh! That smells delicious!” Sarah said, looking around to see where the food was. Her long brown hair was tangled and she kept brushing it out of her face.

“Yes, it does. Can you kids set the big table?” Blaine asked and they ran to help.

The ham was cooling on the counter, food being removed from the oven and put in serving dishes. Along with the ham there were butter-browned potatoes with ham gravy, green beans, a fresh salad, honeyed carrots, and biscuits with blackberry jam.

Sitting at the table, everyone held hands as Grandma Sophie said a prayer. It didn't matter that Kurt and Blaine's family wasn't religious, they respected Sophie and were heart-warmed to know she cared about them so much.

 

After supper, the children cleared the table while Kurt, Blaine, and Puck washed the dishes. Lenore sat on the veranda with Sophie, her advanced weight a distinct disadvantage in standing in one place for too long.

Lucy, Scout, and Harley all laid on the floor, tired out from running and playing with the children all day.

 

“It feels like rain,” Sophie said and Kurt glanced over. He knew about her arthritis and trusted it to know the weather. He got up and came back with a warm afghan to put over her knees.

“But the sky is so blue – not a cloud in sight,” Lenore said, standing with difficulty and walking over to the edge to look up.

“Maybe I'm wrong,” Sophie said, smiling at her granddaughter-in-law. She genuinely liked Lenore, but the girl could be difficult. Sophie found over the years that it was best to let her have her way to find out later if she were right or wrong. She made Noah happy and was a good mother to the children – and that was all that really mattered to Sophia.

After supper and wash-up, they all sat in the living room. There were mosquitoes outside and nobody wanted to get bit tonight. There was a fine mesh screening in the back porch, but there was a chill in the air and inside was warm.

 

“About time for bed,” Kurt said, grinning at the children. Jordy and Anthony were asleep on their sleeping bags, Sarah was leaning on her father, and Katura was snuggled in between Blaine and Sophia.

They were roused from sleep and helped into pajamas, then put in sleeping bags and the adults left the room to go to their beds. Kurt and Puck helped Grandma Sophie up the stairs to her bed and each kissed a cheek before bidding her a good night.

“Everything okay with you?” Kurt asked Puck as they walked down the hall.

“Yeah, as long as Lenore can find the bathroom, we'll be fine,” Puck laughed. “I need to go out and get the rest of Grandma's things from the car. Can I set them in the dining room?”

“Sure, what did she bring?” Kurt asked, curious.

“Her quilting frame. We'll need to set it on four chairs tomorrow – I hope that's okay. She's really excited about it,” Puck revealed. He loved his grandmother more than anything and would do anything for her.

“Whatever she wants is fine with me,” Kurt smiled.

“I'll be real quiet,” Puck smiled back. “Good night, Kurt, and thank you for inviting us to come up here. I think it will be great for everyone.”

“I hope so, too. You are always welcome here.”


The children were up bright and early the next morning. Grandma Sophia was busy in the living room with Kurt putting some sort of contraption together. Katura and Sarah were in the kitchen.

“Thank you for braiding my hair, Katie. I love the looping braids!” Sarah exclaimed, turning in a circle to show her brother and Jordy. “It will keep it from getting tangled in the trees.”

“I'm happy to help,” Katie said, looking up from her work.

“Can you boys go out and gather the eggs?” Blaine asked. They had a chicken yard and hen house full of Rhode Island Reds.

“Sure, Tatay,” Jordy grinned and put a basket in Tony's hand to run out to the hen house. He had a small bucket of scraps from last night's supper to feed the chickens.

Katie diced pieces of last night's ham and browned them in butter to add to the eggs later. Lenore cut potatoes in tiny pieces for hash browns and cooked some bacon to serve with breakfast. She browned the potatoes in the bacon grease and tossed in the ham to cook with it. Blaine mixed up a batch of biscuits.

“I cut up a bit of bell pepper for the eggs – does anyone want any other veggies in them?” Katie asked.

“There's a bit of asparagus and some spring onions in the bottom of the fridge,” Kurt called in from the living room. “Oh, and a half a brick of gruyere cheese.”

“Thank you, Daddy. I'll do those.”

Katie got out the ingredients and Sarah took the cheese to grate while Katie chopped the vegetables.

 

In fifteen minutes the breakfast was ready: Denver scrambled eggs, homemade hash browns, elk sausage that August and Cooper had brought to them last week, fresh biscuits with chokecherry jelly from last year, cold goat's milk and hot tea.

“This should last the kids until lunch time,” Puck laughed. All of the kids worked hard and played hard when they got together on the mountain and a big breakfast full of protein was essential.

 


After breakfast, Kurt hurried back into the living room to help Grandma Sophie with her project. She had brought four long pieces of wood with heavy canvass nailed to it in a strip down each piece. These were brought together at the ends with C-clamps to make a big square and each corner was set on the back of a low kitchen chair.

“Whatcha making?” Jordy asked, always curious about any kind of engineering or mechanical thing.

“It's a quilting frame,” Sarah said, smiling at her great-grandma. She had helped with putting many of Sophie's quilts into the frame before.

“A quilting frame? Like to make a quilt?” Katie asked.

“Exactly like that, honey,” Grandma Sophie said.

“Oh! I have the squares you gave me all sewn together!” Katura squealed, rushing up to her room to find the quilt top in her closet. Sophia had shown Kurt and Blaine's children how to cut out fabric to make a pattern and then sew them into a quilt top when they were with their Grandma Carole and Grandpa Burt last summer.

Jordy went up to find his quilt top in the storage box under his bed.

The twins came down the stairs, giving each other a smile before bringing the tops to Grandma Sophie to look over.

“Let's see . . . which patterns did the two of you decide on?” she asked, unfolding Jordy's first. “Ah, you picked the Log Cabin I see. Excellent needlework, my boy,” she grinned. It was refreshing to know a boy that could use a needle as well as he could gather eggs or change oil in a car.

“Can you guess mine?” Katie asked, unfolding the pink-lavender-and-blue creation.

“Oh! It's Dove in the Window!” Sarah said, happy she knew the pattern. “I was thinking about doing that pattern.”

“Yes, it is, darling, and look at her even stitches,” Grandma praised. Katura could do good work if she could get her mind settled and concentrate on what she was doing. Being up here on the mountain must agree with her.

 

“How do we make them into quilts?” Jordy asked. It had bothered him that the quilt top he'd finished piecing was sitting under his bed for so long. He'd packed it up carefully when they moved to Mt Russell but was unsure of what to do with it next.

“I'll show you,” Sophie said, getting a cotton batting out of one of the boxes she'd brought with her. She showed them how to put the quilt backing in the frame upside-down, pinning it to the canvas strips along the long sides of the frame. Then they placed the cotton batting on top of that, very carefully without stretching it. Next came to quilt top, stretched the same way as the bottom and pinned to the canvas with the same pins.

The four corners of the frame were held tightly by the C-clamps and rested on the backs of the chairs. Other chairs were pulled close to the frame and each person was given a needle, thimble, and some quilting thread that had been dipped in beeswax.

“Why is the thread all waxy?” Katie asked, inspecting the spool she was given.

“It makes it easier to pull through three layers of fabric and batting, plus it makes it sturdier,” Lenore said, smiling at the young girl. She hadn't learned to quilt until her husband's grandmother taught her a few years ago and she was happy to help someone else learn the interesting hobby.

“Okay, now watch me. This is the way you hold the needle, pushing it along with your ring finger that has the thimble on it. You make a straight line doing it this way – if you just pull the needle in and out, the line is crooked. I know its hard to do at first, but you'll get the hang of it soon. You'll build up strength in your fingers, too,” Sophie told them.

Sarah had done this before, so she was going along at a good speed compared with Katie and Jordy. Kurt was trying, too. He loved to sew and this was a new thing for him. It didn't take long for him to understand how it should feel and he gained speed as he went along.

Blaine tried, but he was clumsy at first. He wanted to quit, but he wanted to be a good example for his children, so he plugged along, doing his best. Puck recognized that and after a while he asked Blaine to come help with a problem he was having with the SUV and Blaine was glad to go with him.

 

“Now, what's up with your vehicle? Kurt's the mechanic you know,” Blaine said as he walked down the driveway under the pines to where Puck was waiting.

“Nothing. I just wanted some company and so I made up an excuse. Sorry, you can go back in if you want,” Puck said, ducking his head.

“No, let's walk over to the creek. Its a beautiful day and the sun is shining,” Blaine smiled.

They sauntered over to the small creek running under the sycamore trees along the path to the meadow. Blaine sat down on a log, waving for Puck to sit across from him. He idly picked up a flat stone and skipped it across the water of the creek.

“Okay, spill.” Blaine gave Puck a look that meant he better be forthcoming.

“I didn't want to discuss this with Kurt. He's so close to his dad and he takes things to heart, and I'm not sure if its anything at all,” Puck started.

“What's up with Burt?” Blaine asked, his concentration narrowed in on Puck.

“He's...well, its probably nothing, but he used to go into the hospital three days a week. Since Carol's been in New York he's going every day. I am just a bit concerned, he was doing that when he'd come to the shop. First a few days a week to just hang out, give advice, you know. Then he was coming in every day and trying to do stuff he shouldn't with his heart – picking up heavy stuff like tires.”

“So you think he's obsessing over the Buddy Grandparent thing?”

“I don't know, I just know he goes a lot more often. He doesn't say anything to me about it and I didn't want to bring it up, you know?” Puck said, shrugging his shoulders.

“I'll check it out,” Blaine offered, smiling at his friend.

Wheeeeee!

“That sounds like your hubby is calling you in – with a dog whistle,” Puck laughed, hitting Blaine's shoulder as he got up.

“I wouldn't talk, I hear Lenore calls you in with a cowbell. Be careful or she'll have it around your neck,” Blaine laughed back, then took off at a run, Puck right behind him. They slowed down as they reached the yard and saw the long table under the Big Leaf Maples covered in tablecloths and set for lunch.

Blaine ran up on the porch and into the kitchen just in time to catch Kurt around the waist.

“Can I help put the food on?” he asked.

“Yep,” Kurt said before he leaned forward to softly kiss his husband. Blaine kissed back, wrapping his arms around Kurt and pulling him closer. They stood, chest to chest and kissing deeply as Kurt let out a whimper at feeling so much emotion all at once.

Just as they sighed, looking into each other's eyes, Katura and Sarah walked into the kitchen to ask of they could help. The two children walked back out before the men saw them, eyes wide and mouths open as they looked at each other.

“Do your parents do that?” Katie asked her friend, a light blush coloring her cheeks.

“All the time. Mama yells at Dad and he comes in and kisses her. Then they start hugging and go into their room and lock the door. Anthony says that's why she's having another baby,” Sarah tells her.

Anthony and Jordy come up on the porch and the two girls quiet right down, following the boys into the kitchen. Kurt and Blaine are holding hands, Kurt's eyes sparkling as he looks at Blaine.

“Can we help bring out the food?” Jordy asks, and the men give all the bowls and baskets to the children to bring to the table. They troop outside to have a final lunch before Puck and Lenore have to return to Philomath the next day.

 

~

 

Kurt is sitting on the settee with Blaine cuddled close to him. Blaine had told him about Puck's concern about Burt and they were getting ready to call him when the phone rang.

“Hello? . . . Oh, Carol! How's Ra. . . Oh?” Kurt said and Blaine scooted closer to hear.

“Blaine! We're uncles! Rachel had the baby! Here, let me put it on speaker...Carol? You're on speaker,” Kurt relayed to his step-mother.

“Rachel had the baby! A nice big six-pound girl!” Carol crowed, “She's so beautiful. Finn almost fainted when he was born, but rallied quickly. He's in with Rachel holding little Adele.”

“Adele? Oh, I like that name,” Kurt said, grinning at Blaine.

“Yes, Adele Barbra,” Carol said.

“How is Rachel? Did she do okay? How is her heart?” Blaine asked.

“She's doing just fine. Tired, but happy. She sends her love to you two and the twins,” Carol said with glee in her voice.

“Okay, call us when you're coming home. Love you,” Kurt ended the conversation.

 

~

“Let's go tuck the twins in,” Kurt suggested.

“Kurt, we tucked them in an hour ago!” Blaine laughed.

“Let's do it again?” Kurt whined.

“Okay, yes, let's go say goodnight again.”

They walked up the stairs, the dogs trailing behind them as they approached Katura's door.

“Do you remember the day we brought her home?” Blaine asked, looking deep into Kurt's eyes.

“Yes, I do. I was so scared . . . “ Kurt admitted, “But I knew you were there and would fix anything I did wrong.”

“Oh, Kurt, I thought the same thing. All those alarms and her breathing, I was scared. We lived so far from a hospital and everything,” Blaine said, leaning his head on Kurt's shoulder.

“We did okay, didn't we?” Kurt turned and kissed Blaine.

“I think we are good fathers, at least I hope we are. They are good kids and deserve the best.”

The two men walked into the bedroom and leaned down to kiss Katura's cheek. They gazed over her golden-red hair and the tiny freckles spattered across her sun-tanned nose. With whispered I love you's they walked to Jordan's room.

“He is such a sweet kid, I'm so happy Mrs Charles called us. What would have happened to him if she hadn't called us?” Blaine asked. Kurt came and pulled him close.

“I think he was always destined to be with us, he just took a little longer to show up,” Kurt whispered.

They went in and both kissed their son's cheeks. The moonlight showed off his dark hair and almond-shaped eyes. His skin was a darker shade than his sister's and he didn't have any freckles. He was a beautiful child.

After closing the doors to the twin's rooms, they walked down the hallway to their own bedroom. After changing into their pajamas, Kurt led the way to the hammock on the balcony and pulled Blaine down on top of him. After a few kisses, the men looked up at the beautiful, clear night sky and counted the constellations they knew.

“Remember the night you tried to convince me that you could see the Southern Cross?”

“I never!”

“Yes, you did, honey. It was so cute. . . Hey, no tickling!!!”

 


 

 

Chapter Text

Return to Glory – Chapter 6 – Work Plant Rest

 

It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live...”

~J.K.Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

 


June 

Anderson-Hummel house

Mt Russell, Oregon

 

“Blaine?” Kurt called down the stairs.

The twins were up in Jordy's room watching Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. Both of them loved the series as much as they loved the movie. Kurt and Blaine had argued that morning about the star of the series.

“I love Neil Patrick Harris,” Kurt had mentioned, a wistful smile on his face.

“He's a great actor and his husband is so cute,” Blaine said, a small smile on his own face as he licked his lips.

“Oh, like that is it? David Burtka does it for you?” Kurt asked, tapping his toe on the log floor. He rolled his eyes and stomped into the kitchen. Blaine followed him, wondering at his bad mood.

“I suppose if I learned to cook like a gourmet you would love me, too?” Kurt snapped.

“Ah, Kurt? You already cook like a gourmet, why would I want to change you, sweetheart?” Blaine said quietly. Kurt had been on edge for three days and it was all Blaine could do to guess what might set him off. He suddenly wished he'd gone up to watch the movie with the kids.

“So, you want me to be short and have darker hair?” he demanded.

“No, honey, I love you just the way you are. Care to give me a clue about what's going on? You are so prickly, I don't know which way to step. I love you,” Blaine said, careful not to physically touch his husband, not sure about anything right now.

“You know I love you – why, are you questioning my love now? What the hell, Anderson!” Kurt said and dropped the pewter cup he was filling with water into the sink with a resounding clang. He turned on his heel and walked out of the back door.

Blaine followed him to the barn.

“Kurt, I don't know what I've done, but please stop these games and tell me, give me a chance to defend myself. You are not playing fair!” Blaine shouted and startled the goats, who were now bunched together at the back of their pen. Even the chickens stopped their pecking to look over at the two men. The ponies neighed and one of them went out into the corral, followed by the others.

Kurt sat down on a bench near the door and sighed. He twisted his hands into the fabric of his apron and then leaned forward, hiding his face in the linen fabric.

Blaine rushed over and sat beside his husband, his arms automatically going around Kurt's shoulders. He hauled him up to a sitting position and Kurt put his chin on Blaine's shoulder and sniffed, dabbing at his eyes with the apron.

“What's wrong, baby? Did I do something to upset you?” Blaine asked, kissing Kurt's neck to try and calm him.

“Nothing, you did nothing. I'm just anxious and I'm letting it affect me. I know better. Please, Blaine, I'm so sorry. Forgive me?” Kurt asked, his blue eyes wet with tears and his hands shaking a bit as he framed Blaine's face and kissed him.

“Nothing to forgive, my sweet. Just let me in and tell me what has gotten you so upset,” Blaine explained in a calm voice, running his fingers through Kurt's soft hair. He ran his fingernails across his scalp until Kurt smiled and laid his cheek on Blaine's shoulder.

“It's work. I had to do the south wing all over because the dimensions were wrong. There is a problem with the soil and my calculations concerning weight bearing walls were off. I can't do this long-distance, Blaine. I know its hard to live here and still do our jobs so far away – but you and I agreed this was better for the twins,” Kurt ranted, shaking his arms in the air as he spoke.

“Oh, honey, I didn't know you were having so much trouble. Why don't you take the Navigator down to Philomath and see Mr. Church in person? I bet you can get the correct calculations and be back here in two days. Go see your dad while you're down there?” Blaine suggested.

“You don't understand. I need to take more time than that – I can't work from home on every project. I need to be on site. This is a big building! It's a library for the University and that is not the same as a cottage in the garden. I need to be on site in Portland, not up on this mountain. I can't do my job here,” Kurt said, his hands covering his face.

“I think we can work that out. I understand, or at least I'm trying to,” Blaine cooed, touching his wrist to try and take his hands away from his face. Kurt pulled back.

“Kurt? We can't let this job get in the way of us, you know?' Blaine said softly, kissing Kurt's cheek.

“It's getting in the way of us? What about your job? You leave me alone on this mountain with the kids at least four times a month – no notice, I never know when you'll be back, I can't reach you half the time – why is your job that much more important than mine?” Kurt demanded.

Blaine was not only the official forester for the company, but he was a vice president, and he was in charge of which trees they would harvest. It kept him busy and most days he was out in the forest doing hands-on work.

“No, they are both important! Baby, your architecture career is just as important as my work at Warner Lumber. If you need to go to Portland, then by all means: go! I won't hold you back,” Blaine said, turning his face away so he didn't have to see the panic on Kurt's face.

 


 

 

Two days later at a hotel room in Portland

 

“Here, Mr Church, is the problem we're seeing. The sand under this foundation is shifting. The study that was supposed to be done wasn't correct. We only got three feet in brick before it started to buckle. I suggest we get a new company to do the ground surveys before we ruin the reputation of the company,” Kurt said in a grave tone as he shuffled through the papers in front of him.

“I concur. Layton? Can you get on that and have it done by the 22nd? I'd like to see the new report on my desk by that morning. Davis? Can you start the removal of the bricks down to the foundation and then the foundation itself. I want to start on a clean slate. That's all,” Mr. Church growled and slammed his briefcase closed.

The men and women sat quietly in their seats until Mr. Church was gone and closed the door behind him before anyone moved.

“I'm glad you found time to come down from your mountain and join us,” a tall man with reddish hair and beautiful green eyes said to Kurt, giving him a million-dollar smile.

“Is that as sarcastic as it sounds?” Kurt asked, walking a bit quicker to shed himself of the man.

“No, not at all. You remember me, don't you?” the man asked, smiling at Kurt a bit more than was comfortable. Kurt recalled that this man tended to do that, a lot.

“Yes, Smythe, of course I remember you. You work in the financial part of the company, not in the actual architecture of the buildings, right?” Kurt asked, raising an eyebrow at the annoying man.

“I do. Good memory. How would you like to step out and get a bite to eat with me?” he asked, putting a hand to Kurt's arm to draw him closer. Kurt shook him off and started to walk the other direction.

“Wait! I can help with that report, just give me a chance. Let's go to dinner? I'll pay,” Smythe offered, flirting outrageously.

“I'm not interested. At all,” Kurt said with finality. He turned his back and walked deliberately down the hall and up in the elevator to the room he had paid extra for on the top floor. He wasn't unfriendly, but he didn't have real friends among his fellow employees. He wasn't around enough to make any.

“Kurt? Do you have a minute?” a slim blonde woman asked, giving him a sweet smile.

“Of course, Grace, how are you?” Kurt asked, smiling back at the daughter of the company president, Mr Church. She had always had a warm place in her heart for Kurt and Blaine.

“I'm doing fine,” the woman said. “I have started classes at college – in architecture,” she laughed when Kurt raised his left eyebrow. “Yes, I know, I swore I'd never follow my dad into the business. I got my degree in business management years ago, but the longer I worked for him the more interested I became in the whole science of it.” She shrugged.

“It does draw you in, doesn't it?” Kurt said.

“Is your father in architecture?”

“No, he was a car mechanic. I worked for him during the summers. I was more interested in high fashion and musical theatre. I was going to college for music – voice – and took a class in basic drafting. I fell in love with it and never looked back,” Kurt grinned, loving the freedom to talk about his passion.

“Why don't we go down to the club? I'll buy you a drink and we can order some dinner?” Grace offered.

They went to their rooms to change into more comfortable clothes and met in the hotel restaurant.

“How long have you been going to classes?” Kurt asked his companion once they had settled and ordered dinner and drinks.

“I'm in my second year. I only take night classes several days a week, but I'll get there. I'm in no hurry,” she answered. “What does Blaine think of your career?”

“He has always been supportive – as I am with his,” Kurt said, but turned his head and looked at his hands on the table.

“I sense some reluctance. Is everything okay?” Grace asked, trying to regain eye contact.

“We had a fight before I left. It wasn't a real fight – just that we both felt uncomfortable, you know?”

“Yeah. Been there.”

“I don't know what to do. I know Blaine's career is entwined with where we live, its necessary for continuing the company. I don't even need to work. We have enough money for us and our kids and grandkids if we never worked another day. I work for George & Church because I love it. I don't know if Blaine understands that,” Kurt starts to rave. He gets himself all worked up until Grace puts a hand to his arm and he realizes where he is.

“I'm sorry. There just isn't anyone I can talk to about it. Please forgive me,” Kurt blushes.

“No, it's fine, Kurt. You were just getting a bit loud for this room I think,” Grace laughs.

Kurt blushes, folding his napkin and setting it on the table in front of him.

“Let's go up to my suite, if you want?” Grace offered, knowing he wasn't through and he needed someone to talk to.

“I don't want to intrude anymore on your evening,” Kurt said, wishing he could talk to her some more but unwilling to say so.

“No, I didn't have anything going. I get lonely going to these out-of-town meetings,” Grace smiled at him.

 

Up in Grace's suite Kurt sat in a blue chair across from her.

“So, Blaine isn't sympathetic to your love of architecture?” Grace asked after pouring a vodka and cranberry from the bar.

“I wouldn't go so far as to say that, he just has his mind on trees and lumber and the mountain. I don't mind that...” Kurt stopped for breath.

“That's the third time you've said that. Who are you trying to convince?” she asked, handing him the glass which was now filled with ice.

Kurt just sat there, his fingers busy fiddling with a small statue of an owl he picked up from the occasional table beside him.

“Oh. Maybe me?” he said in a small voice.

“Kurt, I'm so sorry. Maybe I'm probing too deeply where I don't belong.”

“No, Grace, its fine. I guess I need to look at this again. He was so encouraging when we were in college and he has come to all of the openings of the buildings I've worked on. It is just . . . I don't know. He acts like his career is more important than mine, and maybe he's right. I mean, we live on the mountain and it is his livelihood. He was born into it. My architecture is just a passion to me.”

“Don't feel like that, I know Blaine loves you. He's supported you taking time off when you got the twins, then when you moved. I can see how much you mean to him just by looking at him,” Grace tried to comfort her friend.

“Yes, he always puts family first, and that's one of the things I've loved the most about him. I guess I'm just missing him. I better get to bed, I need to drive back to Philomath in the morning to talk to my team. Goodnight, Grace, and thank you.”

“Goodnight, Kurt.”

 

~

After an early morning meeting with his team, Kurt made his way to his dad's house.

“Kurt! What a great surprise! What brings you to my door?” Burt greets his son, throwing his arms around Kurt's shoulders.

“Hi, Dad. I was in town for a meeting and wanted to stop by and maybe take you to lunch?” Kurt offered.

“I just finished tossing the salad, how would you like to join me instead?” Burt asked, leading the way into the dining room where a big salad was on the table along with some garlic bread fresh out of the oven.

“I'd love it. Breakfast was a danish and tea at the hotel in Portland. I'm happy to eat here with you,” Kurt smiled, always relaxed and happy to be in this house.

“Are you staying? Surely you don't want to drive home this late in the day. I worry about you on those dirt roads in the wilderness,” Burt said.

“I'm fine on those roads, Dad, but in answer to your question – yes, I'd love to stay. I need to do some work at the office where I can be with my crew for a while. We've had some issues with the foundation of the library and I need to stay on top of them,” Kurt mentioned, helping his dad and himself to salad when his dad brought another bowl.

“Anything I can help with?” Burt offered.

“No, just getting the right man for the job, you know. I have it sorted, I just need to implement it.”

“Okay. Well, then, I guess I could tell you my news? Carol is coming home on Friday!”

“How did you tear her away from the new baby?” Kurt laughed.

“A month away from home is enough, even with Baby Adele being as cute as she is. I think Carol is tired and anxious to be here. I cannot imagine the energy it must take to live in the same house as Rachel Berry-Hudson for a month,” Burt laughs.

Kurt laughs with him. He well remembers the nights Rachel would come stay for a sleep-over and the chaos she inadvertently caused in her wake.

“They, meaning Finn and Rachel, are coming to visit soon. I can hardly wait to see Adele,” Burt grins.

“Speaking of babies, how are your buddies at the hospital? Puck told us you spend a lot of time there,” Kurt probes.

“Oh, I guess I do spend a lot of my time there. Judy was on vacation and I took some of her shifts since Carol wasn't here. Lenore and Puck invited me to dinner a few times, but its lonely. I just saw a need and filled it,” Burt tried to look innocent.

“Dad?” Kurt said in a severe voice.

“Don't go worrying about me, kiddo. I had my three-month check-up just last week. My blood sugar was a little high so the doc switched insulin. I'm fine,” Burt said with finality. He had developed type-2 diabetes a few years ago in spite of his heart-friendly diet and he was a bit sensitive about it.

“As long as you're taking care of yourself,” Kurt said gently, patting his dad's arm.

“I am. I have to or I can't be a Buddy Grandparent, and some of those kids really need me,” he said.

“I know, I just don't want you overdoing it,” Kurt admonished. He knew his dad could get caught up in the babies and forget to care for himself.

“I've been spending more time with little Daisy. There have been less babies in need of me, so I get to hold her more. She got a virus and was pretty sick for a while, wanting me to hold her and tell her stories more. How could I turn her down?” Burt asked, his face a picture of misery.

“Isn't that the one you told me was terminal?” Kurt asked hesitantly. He picked up his fork and played with the tines.

“Yes. I don't like to think of her like that. The doctor told me she wasn't capable of much thought but I think he's wrong. How could a little one show so much love and be incapable?” Burt posed, “She knows if I'm reading one of her favorite stories or if its a new one. If its 'A Snowy Day', she cuddles close and plays with the buttons on my shirt. If I try to sneak in a new story she won't cuddle. Sometimes she cries if its a story she doesn't like. That shows she is thinking,” Burt said as if he needed to defend her.

“Sure it does, Dad.” Kurt got an idea. “Hey, I was thinking: you've told me a couple of times that Daisy likes to play with your shirt buttons. Well, they make novelty buttons you can get in craft stores. I saw some that are shaped like kittens or dogs. How about I buy a packet of those and sew some animal buttons on a few of your shirts?”

“That's a great idea, son. Can we go this afternoon?” Burt suggested.

“Sure thing.”

 

They sat for a while in silence, just enjoying each other's company.

“I was thinking of adopting her,” Burt said quietly.

“Dad, no. Would it help? It won't keep her alive, what would change?”

“Nothing. She'd probably still have to live at the hospital. Carol and I talked it over. The biggest difference would be we'd have to pay her hospital bills and that would bankrupt us. So I guess we won't. But I think of her as mine anyway,” Burt sighs.

“Oh, Dad. You have the biggest heart. I love you.” Kurt leaned close and puts his arms around his father, taking in the comforting smell of clean flannel and Old Spice aftershave.

“The other babies are doing fine. Joey went home – first to a foster care home and then Mrs. Charles called me to say he had found a new home. Lucky kid, he was one of my favorites,” Burt grinned.

“Good for him. I'm so glad JoLinda Charles is still working for Social Services. She was instrumental in helping us to adopt the twins. We'd never have had a chance to adopt Jordan without her help,” Kurt smiled.

“Maybe its time for you to adopt a new baby?” Burt suggested.

“I'd have to stay home again. Blaine can't take much time off with the start-up of the new stands of harvest-ready trees on Mt Russell. With Cooper supervising on Mt Warner and Mr Warner retiring, Blaine is needed to do his job,” Kurt said.

“So, who's watching the kids while you're down here in Philomath?”

“They went to stay with the Warners and with Shannon during the day. I need to get home, I don't want them to get behind on their school work,” Kurt whines.

“I thought Mrs Warner taught Blaine and Lenore?”

“She did, Dad, but she isn't as young as she used to be. She's at least ten years older than you,” Kurt tells his dad.

“I'm no spring chicken, Kurt. I'm feeling my age these days.”

“What do you mean?”

“Its harder to get out of bed in the morning. The doc says its arthritis. And I feel like I can't really learn anything anymore. I was always quick to pick up stuff, especially of a mechanical nature, but now I struggle to learn how to use the apps on my tablet. I hear of people I knew in school that have passed away, all my parents, aunts and uncles are gone. Some days I just feel old,” Burt said with tears in his eyes.

Kurt gets up and pulls his father into his arms again, this time not letting go for a long, long time.

“Oh, Dad. Is there anything I can do? Maybe we need to move back to town? I can talk to Blaine, he'll agree with me,” Kurt says, desperate to make his dad feel better.

“No, son. You need to be up there where Blaine's job is and where the kids are happy. Just maybe visit more often?” Burt asks.

“Of course. I promise, Dad. I miss you so much when we're away for too long.”

“Now, let me end this pity-party. I have some vanilla ice cream hidden at the bottom of the freezer and some root beer in the pantry. How about a float?”

“That sounds perfect! I'll go put Top Gun on the DVD player and we can have an afternoon of it,” Kurt grins, knowing this will make his father happy. “We can make a pan of popcorn to go with it. Did you know Katie and Jordy call it 'Grandpa corn' because they usually have it when you come to visit.”

Kurt goes to find the almost-worn-out DVD and sends Grace Church a quick text that he has a family issue and won't be in the rest of the day. He gets one back telling him she's taken care of it.

 

“Here we go, Kiddo. I know it isn't heart-healthy but once in a while. . . “

Kurt just smiles and leans on his dad's shoulder, feeling as if he could sit here forever.

 

~

“Hey, Cooper. What brings you to my door? Not that you aren't a sight for sore eyes,” Blaine says, looking up from the kitchen table as his brother walks in.

“Just a consult with my favorite forester genius,” Coop laughs, sitting down across from his little brother. “One of the guys found this,” he said, taking a bottle from his pocket and setting it on the table between them.

Blaine picked up the bottle, looking at the pine twig and the insects.

“Nothing to worry about. This is a pine beetle, but I ordered wheel bugs from the supplier and entomopathogenic nematodes last spring to combat them. Tell me, were these found down at the Hatchet Glen stand?”

“How did you know? We haven't ever harvested there before,” Cooper said with surprise.

“I stopped in there in the spring to check. Mr Warner told me there had been some spotted over the years and they had even burned some back in the 1950s. I haven't seen any more anywhere else, but tell me if you catch wind of any,” Blaine said, frowning in concern.

“Okay, Squirt. Just trying to stay on top of things,” Coop said, taking a piece of cake from the cakestand in front of him. Blaine got up and came back with a glass of goats milk for his brother.

“How's August? I haven't seen him for a week or more,” Blaine asked.

“He's in bed with a bad cold,” Cooper frowned a bit.

“Anything I can do?”

“No, he's on the mend and it gives me a chance to baby him. Those chances are few and far between so I try to take advantage when I can,” Cooper laughs.

“How's the house? Big step up from your cabin, huh?” Blaine laughs. Cooper and August are living in Blaine and Kurt's log house now that the Hummel-Andersons are living on Mt Russell.

“You spoil me! I can walk down the hall and take a hot shower in the winter. What else matters?” Cooper laughs. “How are things with you and Kurt? How long will he be down in Philomath?”

“Another two weeks maybe? It depends on how that rebuild goes. Kurt had to go put out fires when that foundation failed, so who knows,” Blaine said, leaning his cheek into his hand as he supported his elbow on the table.

“Miss him much?”

“Yeah. We didn't part on the best of terms and I'm feeling guilty,” Blaine admitted, his face glum with his guilt.

“What did you do now?” Cooper asked.

“We fought over our jobs. He thinks I leave him home to run all over the mountains,” Blaine practically whispered.

“Well, Squirt, you do.”

“I know! But I hadn't really thought about it until he got upset. It seems to have worked for us for a long time now, but. . . maybe he's getting tired of me and the mountain. He was born in a city after all.”

“Hey, I think that's taking it a bit far, isn't it? You have to give him time to do his dreams, too. From what I've seen, Kurt is in love with drawing buildings. He loves the magic of turning those drawings into actual buildings he can see and touch. Why keep him away from it by being jealous?”

“I am not jealous! I'm needed in this company, I can't take time off. He can.”

“But Blaine, didn't you just explain to me that everything on that library has run amuck because he was trying to manage it from here?”

Blaine sat with his mouth open, staring at Cooper, while his brother got up and walked to the door.

“I'll see you later, Blaine. Tomorrow at the new stand down the mountain, about ten?” Cooper said.

“Yeah, Coop, see you then.”

 

~

Kurt drove carefully up the winding mountain road. He might be used to the roads as he told his father, he wasn't used to pulling anything behind him. He came around the last bend, driving up beside the house and knowing the barking of the dogs would bring Blaine and the kids running.

“Kurt? What's with the trailer?” Blaine asked as he took Kurt in his arms after he opened the door of the Navigator.

“I'll show you,” Kurt promised, looking around for the children.

“The kids are still over with Shannon. I wasn't expecting you until next week,” Blaine said.

“They're going to be excited when they see what I brought,” Kurt grinned, opening the trailer doors. He stepped in and came out leading a chocolate brown cow with big eyes and long eyelashes.

“Kurt! A cow?”

“I thought you might like to churn butter?” Kurt laughed. Blaine's eyes got huge.

“I've always wanted a milk cow! What kind is she?”

“Half Brown Swiss and half Jersey. The farm told me she is gentle and would give very rich milk - perfect for the kids.”

“Oh, Kurt, I love you!”


 

 

Chapter Text

Return to Glory – Chapter Seven – The Garden

 

If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”

~J.R.R.Tolkien, The Hobbit


June/July

Mt Russell, Oregon

 

“Good morning, my love,” Kurt addressed his husband as he saw Blaine waking up. Kurt was seated on a chair just pulling on his socks.

“Good morning. I'm sorry I'm a lay-a-bed this morning, I didn't sleep well last night,” Blaine mumbles and sits up.

“No, I don't think either of us did. We still need to talk I think, Blaine. Nothing is going to be resolved if we don't.”

“Are you still angry with me for the way we ended it before you left for Portland?” Blaine asks. He prefers to take the bull by the horns instead of hiding his feelings and not getting it all out in the open.

“I'm not angry with you, baby. I am feeling . . . I don't know, frustrated? Anxious, confused. This is not the way we wanted things to go and I don't know what to do to fix it. We have careers that we love, but they seem to be in direct conflict with each other. I can't do everything to make my job work if I'm here on the mountain all the time. I need to be in the office or on the job site from time to time,” Kurt gets out in almost one breath.

Blaine swings his feet to the floor and gets up.

“I need to use the restroom and then we'll finish this conversation, if that's okay?” he asks, feeling at a disadvantage speaking about such a loaded topic in his pajamas while Kurt is dressed. He looks fabulous in his blue and white striped cotton button-down and freshly ironed khaki cargo pants. Even in the rough mountain environment, Kurt is always neat and fashionable.

Blaine comes back to slip on his dark-wash skinny jeans and a favorite polo shirt in the deep aqua that Kurt loves on him. He glances over to catch Kurt as he knots a light blue cotton scarf around his neck.

“Race you to the barn,” Kurt laughs.

“Will you kiss me if I fall on you?” Blaine laughs back over his shoulder as he takes off down the hall. He knows he has to make good time on the stairs because Kurt's long legs would get him there faster.

Blaine rounded the corner into the kitchen and closed the back door behind him as Kurt gained ground. Blaine sprinted across the yard, jumped the creek, and swung the barn door open just as Kurt arrived, one foot wet because he missed the bank when he jumped the creek.

Blaine was between the stalls and into the goat yard as Kurt caught up and put his arms around the shorter man. Blaine began kissing him, taking time to kiss his neck where Kurt loved it the most.

“At least we aren't wallowing in the goat muck this time,” Kurt grinned, reminding his husband of the day they had first kissed way back when they met.

“I am so lucky you ended up in the lumber camp, baby. Even unconscious and bruised you were beautiful,” Blaine smiled, remembering his first look at Kurt – battered and bleeding at the side of the tracks where the camp bouncers had thrown him, thinking he was dead.

“I opened my eyes and thought you were an angel, coming to take me to my mother in heaven,” Kurt said, “and you're still my angel.”

They came together, arms holding each other as they kissed softly and full of love.

“I'm sorry we argued, and so very sorry we parted on less than friendly terms, Kurt,” Blaine confessed, hanging his head but still holding on tightly to his husband.

“I'm sorry, too. I was so sad for the whole trip, knowing you weren't happy. I never want to do that again,” Kurt added, kissing Blaine's cheek.

“But, Kurt, we need to talk about it. Disagreements and arguments are going to keep coming up over and over again if we don't come to some plan on how to do this,” Blaine pleaded.

“Yeah, I know,” Kurt let go of Blaine and turned to grab a rake to start mucking out the goat enclosure. Blaine opened the door, letting the herd go out to play in the fenced portion of the meadow while he and Kurt cleaned their pen. He grabbed a shovel and got to work.

When the pen was clean with fresh straw on the ground and the feed bins full, they let the goats back in and the girls walked to their stanchions to be milked.

“I know your job is needed the most, Blaine. This company needs you to lead it and in spite of my love for my job, I do recognize that yours comes first,” Kurt started the conversation as he leaned his head against the goat he was milking.

“That isn't fair, your job is just as important; we decided that before we even finished college. We need to find a way to fit them both into our lives. I know we can come up with something,” Blaine offered.

“I need to go back to the office for another two weeks starting the fifth of August. I might be able to get my work done before the two weeks are up, I'll certainly try,” Kurt stated, waiting with bated breath to see what Blaine would have to say about that.

“Okay. I can do work close to home during that time I think. Maybe I can have August or Cooper help with the twins,” Blaine offered.

“Ah...maybe Carol or Dad might take them? I could take them to Philomath.”

“Let's wait and see. I don't think that will be a big deal. How many more times will you need to be gone for two weeks at a time?” Blaine asked.

“Not very many. My part is almost done, then at the end I'll need to be there to make sure all the I's are dotted and all the T's are crossed, you know?” Kurt said, trying to sound light-hearted.

“Okay, well that is do-able,” Blaine said, having the feeling that this wasn't done at all.

They finished cleaning up the goat pen and moved on to the other animals, cleaning the pony stalls and the stall of the new milk cow before moving to the chicken coop and gathering the eggs.

Walking back to the house, milk pails and egg basket in hand, the two men smiled at each other. It was so nice to just be together doing simple tasks.

Back in the house, the goat milk was put in the pasteurizer and the eggs into a basket to set in the cool pantry. Yesterday's eggs were used to make Denver omelets for breakfast with smoky Canadian bacon and home-cut hash browns. Glasses of cold goat milk rounded out the meal.

“Baby, what are we going to do long term?” Kurt asked, still wanting to get this settled for good. He leaned forward to touch Blaine's hand and then laced their fingers together.

“I don't know. I guess we can hire a forester and a supervisor? That might work, then I can cut back the amount of hours I need to be there,” he offered, but Kurt knew he would never be satisfied giving the care of the mountain and all the forests over to a hired man. Or woman.

Kurt knew in his heart that he had to give up his career as an architect. Blaine's happiness meant more to him than his career and he knew he could be happy doing small jobs and maybe drawing some fashion things and sewing. He'd always loved doing that and it would be enough.

“Blaine, I want you to listen to me and not say anything until I'm done. Okay?”

“Of course. You sound so serious – is everything okay?” Blaine asked, kissing his knuckles and giving Kurt his full attention.

“Yes, I think so. I have been thinking about this ever since I left for Portland. I am going to quit George & Church. I do love being an architect, but I can't do these big jobs if I can't give it my whole attention and time. I would rather be with you here on our mountain with my family than trying to cut myself into a bunch of pieces trying to make everyone happy. It isn't working. I thought I could do it, but I was wrong. I need to focus myself on less things and being at home is what I want to focus on.”

“But Kurt! You love your job! I don't want to be the instrument of your unhappiness. No, we can work out something . . . “ Blaine blurted out, grabbing both of Kurt's hands again and pulling him into his lap. He put his arms around the taller man and leaned his head into Kurt's chest to listen to his heart beat.

Kurt put his own arms around Blaine and kissed his curls.

“No, baby, I will be happy here. I'm not good at going down the mountain all the time and leaving you and the twins behind. I'm not. I talked it over with Grace one evening after work. She is getting her degree in architecture to work with her father and my leaving will give her a chance to move into that position. I can still be a consultant and work from time to time as I choose, and that will be enough for me. I choose to be with you, baby.”

Blaine was blown away by Kurt's speech. He'd already discussed this with the owner's daughter?

“You talked to Grace? She has nothing to do with hiring and firing at the company, does she?” Blaine asked.

“No, but she does know how her father runs the company. She has been a part of it since she was born, her grandfather started the company. She knows what her father will say. Don't worry, she's discrete, she won't say anything to her father until I tell her my decision. I've already written my resignation,” Kurt says, a worried expression coming across his face.

“Are you sure? I don't want to be the cause of you being unhappy without your career. You are not my wife, I don't expect you to stay home and be the mommy . . .”

“Blaine! I cannot believe you could say such a sexist thing! This is the twenty-first century and women don't all stay home to be mommies anymore!” Kurt shouted, a bit shocked at Blaine's view.

“I didn't mean it like that, just that I don't expect you to become a house-husband and daddy as your only duties in life. I want you to do things you like, too. I can stay with the kids while you go and do things away from here. We can plan vacations away, too. Maybe go back to Puerto Rico?” Blaine suggests, mentioning the trip they took the year they got married.

“I know what you mean. Yes, I think that can work out for all of us. Are you sure?” Blaine asked, looking into Kurt's eyes to be sure of his answer.

“Yes, I'm sure,” Kurt said, and kissed Blaine with passion.

In spite of the time, the men went back to the bedroom and took full advantage of having the children gone for another day to make slow and passionate love to one another.

“I love you, baby,” Blaine said as he caught his breath.

“I love you, too, more than anything,” Kurt said back, pulling his husband back under the covers for round two.

 


The next morning . . .

 

“I want to name her Amanda,” said Katura as she ran to the barn to be the first to milk the new cow this morning. They came to the stall and the cow turned around, her big, dark eyes with long eyelashes making her look like she was winking at them.

“I think we should name her Flirt,” Kurt laughed and Blaine patted his arm.

“But Kimberly is such a better name!” Jordan chimed in, adamant that he was right. He'd been watching old Power Ranger cartoons. “Besides, it's my turn to name an animal, Katie, you named the last goat kid – Fancy.”

“Okay, you're right. You name her,” Katura said. Blaine smiled to himself, knowing Katura only agreed because she loved the Pink Power Ranger.

“So it's settled? The new cow is officially named 'Kimberly'.” Kurt said.

The children and Blaine cheered.

“Kimberly Flirt,” Kurt whispered under his breath.

 

~

 

Kurt got ready and left for Philomath one more time – to finish any last minute touches to his project and to tender his resignation. Blaine picks up on his sadness, but when he mentioned it Kurt snapped at him to let it go.

He'd called his dad to see if they would watch the children while Kurt was in town but hadn't gotten an answer. His dad was probably at the hospital being a Buddy Grandpa and Carol was at work. He shouldn't have left it to the last minute, but Blaine seemed happy to stay home with the twins for the week and Kurt just wanted to get this over with.

 


 

Blaine sits down at the big table in the kitchen. He arranges paper and pencils and calls in the twins. Jordy sits down beside his Tatay and Katura sits across, up on her knees and leaning across the table to see what he's doing with the paper.

“Okay, kids, let's plan a garden. Won't it be fun to show it to Daddy when he gets back?” Blaine says to the twins.

“Yes, Tatay, but what can we plant?” Jordy asks.

“Just about anything you want,” Blaine offers, “How about we start with Brussels sprouts?”

Both children groan and Blaine laughs, knowing nobody in the family enjoys the teeny cabbages.

“Can we do carrots?” Katura asks, thinking of carrot, apple, and raisin salad – and feeding carrots to the mules and ponies.

“Or beets?” Jordy adds, mentioning his favorite vegetable.

“Of course! Now, here is a plan of the garden and pencils to fill in the spaces . . . “ Blaine explained. They spent the rest of the afternoon deciding on the vegetables they would like. From lettuce to corn, radishes to tomatoes, they plan the garden. Blaine smiles, knowing he's bought seeds for everything they have mentioned.

“Why are we planting so late, Tatay? Most of these seed packets say to plant in May,” Katie says, reading the back of the package of beets.

“Its because this high up it is cooler than down on the valley floor. We usually start planting the second week in June. Don't worry, we'll have enough time to harvest your plants. Now, keep in mind that I haven't planted some of these on a mountain before, so I can't guarantee that they'll all grow. We can only try to do our best, right?” Blaine encouraged his children.

“Yes, Tatay, we understand,” Jordy said, nodding his head. Blaine noticed that he needed a haircut as his shiny black hair flopped around.

“Okay, let's go get the tractor started and we can begin to get the ground ready. We can mix in some of the manure from the horses, goats, and cow,” Blaine explained.

 

By the end of the day, the ground had been plowed and the fertilizer was dug into the soil.

“We can start planting the seeds tomorrow!” Blaine grinned, happy to see his kids excited for the next step. He wished Kurt was here to participate but they were already late in getting started. It couldn't be helped.

 

The next morning, both Katie and Jordy were up and dressed, coming down to breakfast before Blaine had a chance to wake them up.

“Can we start to plant the seeds?” Katie asked, a mouth full of French toast.

“After you get your chores done,” Blaine smiled at her. Her red-gold hair was shining in a beam of sunlight and her eyes sparkled with humor. She was the light of his life along with Jordan and Kurt.

 

After morning chores and breakfast, Blaine walked out to the garden with a pail full of wooden stakes and a ball of twine. He showed the kids how to measure off the squares where each plant would be sown.

“But I thought all gardens were in long, straight rows?” Jordy asked.

“Not all gardens. When the country went to war – the Second World War that is – most people wanted to help with the war effort. So many men had to go to become soldiers that a lot of women, who hadn't needed to before, had to plant gardens to help feed their families. Well, they needed to get the seeds to do that and seed companies didn't have enough on hand.

“The government thought up a way to help. Instead of people planting in blocks of seeds, they sent out pamphlets saying the best way to garden was to do it in rows. It used less seeds and there wasn't as much of a need to thin the rows, which wasted seeds.”

“Is there still a shortage of seeds?” Katie asked.

“No, sweetheart, there isn't. We will be careful to not waste any, but I think doing what is called 'square foot gardening' might be what we need here,” Blaine explained.

They spent the morning marking off the paths and squares needed to plant, then added trellises for things like beans and peas and cages for tomatoes, cucumbers, and squashes. With a short stop for lunch, they had finished prepping the ground for the garden.

“I guess we didn't get it planted, sorry kids,” Blaine apologized as they walked back to the house, exhausted.

“Its okay, Tatay, we have tomorrow,” Jordy sympathized with his father, putting his arm around Blaine's waist. Blaine in turn hugged his son. Katura joined in and they walked slowly into the house to do the evening chores and fix supper.

 

They were all up early the next morning, anxious to start planting. Blaine had just finished breakfast after chores when he saw Scout and Lucy pick their heads up from the floor to listen. They both started wagging their tails and Blaine started up from the table as Kurt walked in the back door – catching an arm full of Blaine.

“Oh! You're back!” Blaine shouted, dragging Kurt's face down so he could kiss him. It started gently and ended up in a quite passionate kiss and their bodies came close.

“Oh, no, they're at it again,” Katura laughed as she and Jordy came in from gathering eggs.

“Katie, my girl, Jordy, my son . . . “ Kurt crowed, picking them both up in his strong arms and swinging them around and around.

“Daddddyyyyyyy!!” they squealed.

“What are you guys doing, you both look so chipper this morning,” Kurt smiled, then turned to look at Blaine, who blushed.

“We may have started a new project?” he said in a small voice.

“And what is that?” Kurt asked, his eyebrows lifting as he set the kids down and took his husband back into his arms.

“A garden, Daddy!” Katie said.

“Really? That sounds great. What kind of flowers are you planting?” he asked, winking at Blaine. They had talked this over before he'd left last time to go to Portland. As a matter of fact, Kurt had picked up the seeds when he was in Philomath before returning home.

“No, Daddy! We're planting vegetables, not flowers. So we can eat them and be self-sufficient,” Katie told him, Jordy nodding his head in agreement.

“Well, we are doing some flowers. In rows in between the vegetables we're planting marigolds, lots of kinds. They can help keep the bad bugs off the vegetables,” Jordy added quietly.

“Great idea. Can I see this marvelous garden?” Kurt asked.

The twins take his hands and march out to the little creek, jump over and lead him to the garden.

“We plowed it and raked it and shoveled it . . . “ Katie tells her daddy.

“ . . . and put animal manure on it, measured it and put up stakes and strings to show where to put the seeds,” Jordy continued.

“We made little signs to show where we are planting each vegetable,” Katie finished.

“Wow, you guys have been really busy. Sounds like its all done then,” Kurt sighs.

“Nope. We were doing all of that and the day was over. Now we have to plant the seeds,” Katie said, pointing to the packets in the basket Blaine is carrying.

“Then I'm not too late to help?” Kurt inquires and the kids grin at him.

“No, Daddy. Please help us?”

“Of course. Just tell me what I can do,” Kurt grins.

 

They spend most of the morning reading how to plant each vegetable and then add a row of marigolds around each one. By lunchtime they're done and Blaine puts the portable pump in the creek so they can water the newly planted garden. It isn't long before a flock of blackbirds come to eye the newly planted beds.

“Oh! We have to string the bird-scarers,” Katura says, running to the barn to get them.

“Last night when it was too dark to work outside, the kids and I made these,” Blaine holds up some long strings with old cds hanging from them.

“I had a box of these I found in a trash can by the college campus last summer. I saved them, thinking the mirror-finish would be a good thing to scare birds away from the garden,” Blaine smiles. He ties the ends of the strings to the stakes they used to mark off the garden squares and the old CDs dangle over the seed beds.

“I think that's going to work perfectly!” Kurt crows, amazed once again at his husband's genius. He picks up a few of the leftover CDs and reads the labels. “And if it doesn't, we can just play some of these – I'm pretty sure blasting Slipknot or Devil Driver across the meadows would scare off any living creature.”

“Let's go home and eat some lunch. Maybe we can think of a fun thing to do this afternoon after all of our hard work,” Blaine suggests.

“I could think of a few things...” Kurt whispers in his ear and Blaine throws his arms around his husband.

“I bet you can,” he smiles.

 

~

 

“You can't catch me!” Katie squeals as she runs down the path to the lake. Dressed in her swimming suit and throwing her towel to the nearest boulder, she takes a quick look to be sure there is no danger in the water and walks in, pushing off the large underwater rock to launch herself into the deeper part of the water.

Jordy doesn't waste his breath on shouting, he simply walks in and pushes off the same rock to follow his sister into the water. He is a strong swimmer and catches up to her in a few moments, reaching to dunk her but changing his mind at the last moment.

“Caught ya,” he says and puts a hand to her shoulder.

“Yeah, I guess you did. I need to exercise more,” Katie says.

“You need to go back and get some sun-screen. The sun is hotter than you think it is,” Jordy suggests, remembering the bad burn she got last summer.

They head back just as Blaine sets the basket down on the blanket Kurt brought. He sits down, looking for the sun-screen to put on Kurt's skin when the twins land on the blanket, getting him wet when they hug him.

“Hey, that lake water is cold!” he screeches, making the kids laugh.

“Is it? I didn't notice it was so cold, Tatay,” Katura says as she hugs her father closely, getting him even wetter.

“Cold? Not at all. Maybe 'Brisk'?” Jordy joins in, hugging him from the other side and giggling as Blaine tries to get away.

“Hey, no fair,” he says, looking back and forth between his children and then around to see where Kurt is – and if he's coming to the rescue. Of course, Kurt has disappeared into the brush so as to keep dry and warm.

“Chicken!” Blaine shouts as he removes his shirt and slips into his water shoes to join the kids in the lake. It is very warm today and in spite of the cold water the kids wet him with, Blaine will be happy to get into the nice cool lake. He finds the sun-screen and puts it on both kids, who run back into the water, when Kurt comes sauntering back out of the bushes with a hat-full of strawberries.

“Oh, yeah, I wonder where you were moments ago when I was being double-teamed by your twins?” Blaine says sarcastically.

“Why, whatever do you mean? Did those big bad children get my baby wet?” Kurt asks.

Blaine thinks of several ways to get back at Kurt, but decides instead to take advantage of the children being in the lake. He comes over and starts to unbutton Kurt's shirt, kissing his chest as each button is undone.

When they were teenagers, Kurt's chest was devoid of any hair, smooth and soft to the touch. In the years since, Kurt has grown a bit of chest hair. It is golden chestnut and soft, just right to snuggle into Blaine thinks and he does just that.

“I love you,” he says and Kurt's blue eyes light up. While they are both vocal about their mutual admiration for each other, it never fails to spur Kurt's heart to beat that much faster when he hears those three words come from his husband's mouth.

“I love you, too, baby,” Kurt returns, kissing behind Blane's ear where he knows he will bring gooseflesh.

They stand on the blanket kissing for a while, then Kurt dares Blaine to catch up as he runs for the water, Blaine just a leap behind.


 

 

Chapter Text

Return To Glory – Chapter Eight – From Out of the Past

 

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who

mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.”

~Dr Seuss, The Cat in the Hat


 

 

Anderson-Hummel Homestead

Mt Russell, Oregon

August

 

 

Ring!

“Kurt?”

“Hello, Noah. What's up? Has Lenore had the baby?” Kurt asks, thinking in his head if this is the right time. He'd thought she had a bit longer?

“No, Lenore hasn't popped yet. Another month. No, this is something different. Are you alone?” Puck asks.

“Yeah, Blaine is out with the kids weeding the garden, why?” Kurt asks, getting a bad feeling.

“I got a call and I need to run this by you.”

“What's wrong? Something I can help with?” Kurt asks, wondering if he should be stating it that way.

“I don't know, its a tricky subject and I've been stewing on it for a few days and I thought – well, that it would be best to just come right out with it.”

“Okay.” Kurt was torn between wanting Puck to just finally blurt it out and wanting to end the call altogether.

“A guy we knew in high school called me. I know you knew him, and you didn't have such a good relationship. He wants to come see me, which is fine, but he wants to see you, too,” Puck says slowly, not sure of how Kurt will react.

Cold chills ran up the back of Kurt's spine making him feel sick to his stomach. He felt hot and cold at the same time and his hands began to tremble.

“Not one of the guys that beat me up and put me on the train? Puck! How could you . . .”

“No, no! I'd never do that, Kurt. You know me better than that!” Puck shouted back, shocked that Kurt would ever think he'd do such a thing.

Kurt sat still on the settee, leaning over as his head spun. His stomach cramped and he thought he was going to vomit.

“Kurt? Kurt! Wait, that isn't . . .” Puck tried to say before he heard the phone hit the ground.

“Kurt?”

Kurt laid down on the settee, pulling the warm wool afghan Blaine had crocheted over his shoulders. He was sick to his stomach and now he was shivering, too. He was struggling to suck air into his lungs. He needed his dad, he needed Blaine.

 

“Kurt? What's wrong?” Blaine asked. He had just stepped into the house, looking for the trowel he'd left behind on the kitchen counter. He took off his split-cowhide gloves he used for gardening and looked closer. “Baby?”

Kurt looked up at his husband, his eyes big and damp. Blaine rushed to his side and knelt down beside him and took him into his arms, holding him tightly until he heard a voice coming from the floor.

“Hello?” he said into the satellite phone, picking it up and realizing something was amiss with Kurt and linking it to whomever was on the phone.

“Blaine! Where's Kurt? Is he okay?” Puck asked, obviously agitated.

“No, he looks – I don't know, sick? What happened? Did he call you for help? Kurt, what's wrong?” Blaine said, looking over at Kurt.

“He misunderstood what I said, Blaine. I was asking him something and he wouldn't wait for me to explain,” Puck said, clearly upset.

“I'll call you back,” Blaine said and hung up the phone.

“Kurt, what can I . . . “

He never finished the sentence because Kurt tried to push him out of the way as he started vomiting over and over again on the floor, holding his stomach and moaning. Blaine didn't even bat an eyelash as he took Kurt into his arms again and ran his hand down Kurt's cheek.

“Calm down, baby. You're going to be okay. I'm here, baby. I won't let you go, I promise,” he cooed at Kurt.

Kurt finally stopped being sick and lay back on the settee, eyes closed in misery. Blaine tucked the afghan and then a quilt, hastily pulled from a trunk, over him and went to get cleaning supplies and mopped it all up.

 

“Okay, now tell me what happened. Puck seemed very upset. What did he say to you?” Blaine asked, sitting now on the settee and holding Kurt's head in his lap.

“He said someone called him from high school, he said it wasn't someone I got along with but he wanted to visit me . . . my mind flashed to the bullies that assaulted me and put me in the train car. I don't remember anything after that.”

“Oh, baby. I know Puck wouldn't invite anyone here that had anything to do with that. Would he?”

“Of course not. How can something from so long ago sneak up on you like that?” Kurt asked.

“I guess it can. We haven't hardly spoken about any of that since the end of the trial. How are you feeling now?”

“Still a little sick, I'm afraid. I'm so sorry, Blaine. I'm sorry you had to clean up after me,” Kurt said, embarrassed.

“Think nothing of it. I'm just worried about you,” he soothed, running his fingers through Kurt's thick chestnut hair.

“I guess I better call Puck,” Kurt mumbled, not wanting to do it. He didn't care now who had called.

“No, you go up to bed. I'll call Puck and then come up and pour you a warm bath, okay?” Blaine offered. Kurt nodded.

 

Having gotten Kurt into bed and covered up, Blaine came back down to the kitchen and dialed the satellite phone.

“Hello?”

“All right, explain yourself,” Blaine said brusquely.

“Oh, Blaine, is Kurt okay?”

“He's in bed, no thanks to you. What the hell?”

“Okay, I called because Dave Karofsky called me. He wants to come and visit us. I stayed in touch with him for a while after he joined the Glee Club our senior year. He and Kurt seemed to get along then ~ remember it was Kurt's idea that Dave join the Glee Club?,” Puck rattled off, trying to exonerate himself.

“Okay. Kurt seemed to think it was one of the guys involved in the incident that ended with him on that train car,” Blaine said. While he was grateful that Kurt ended up in his camp, otherwise they would never have found each other, the actual crime – being beaten with bats and broken bottles and then locked in a train car were not good memories.

“I know. I guess I said something wrong, but I don't know what it was. I was just about to tell him it's Dave when he got all funny and dropped the phone. I'm sorry,” Puck apologized.

“I'll make sure he's okay. I'll tell him about Dave, too. We'll talk soon, okay?”

“Sure, Blaine. I really am sorry if I upset him. Kurt's one of my best friends, I would never do anything to deliberately harm him, you've gotta believe me.”

“I do. Bye for now.”

~

 

“Ready for a hot bath?” Blaine asked as he stepped into the bedroom.

He'd gone out to check on the kids, cleaned the cushions on the settee, talked to Puck, and was finally ready to help his husband into the bath.

Kurt went into the ensuit and smiled as Blaine removed his own clothes then helped Kurt out of his. He got into the over-sized tub, holding his arms up to invite Kurt to join him.

Kurt stepped into the hot water, taking a deep breath of the scented bath salts, and sat down in front of Blaine. He melted into his husband, his back touching Blaine's tight stomach and muscled chest. He sighed as Blaine's arms went around him and pulled him close.

“I love the aroma therapy, what kind is this?” Kurt asked, intrigued that Blaine mixed his own concoctions from things he picked up in the woods. In addition, he had an herb garden on the south side of the house.

“Jasmine. It doesn't grow here, I got it from a plant Carol has at the house in Philomath. I added chamomile, lavender, and lemon balm. Do you like it?” Blaine asked.

“I love it. Thank you,” Kurt sighed as he relaxed into Blaine's arms. He could feel Blaine's lips as he kissed the back of Kurt's neck, moving his head to coax some kissing under his jaw and behind his ear.

“Are you feeling better, baby?” Blaine asks. He knows the train incident brings back sad, scary memories for Kurt and they have avoided talking about it for years. Maybe it's time for Kurt to clear the air?

“I'm okay. For some reason it just hit me so hard – thinking about those boys and what happened that night. I can still feel the wooden bats striking me, the broken bottle cutting me, the hate in the air, all of it. Then being so thirsty in that train car – the doors were locked from the outside – and drinking dirty rainwater that seeped in under the door. It tasted like mud and old barn floor, but I sucked it off the floor like it was mother's milk. I can still taste it . . . “

“Oh, sweetheart! I am so sorry. Tell me what I can do? Do we need to set you up with a therapist?” Blaine asked, willing to do anything to make Kurt feel better.

“No. Just hold me for a while. I'm okay, it was just unexpected and hit me wrong.”

Blaine rubbed tiny circles in Kurt's back, humming as he continued to kiss the back of his neck and across his shoulders. Blaine kept holding him tightly and humming in his ear to calm him.

“I know Puck would never bring one of those boys here. They are all out of prison now, but I don't think they would know where to look for me. So I wonder who Puck was going to tell me called. . . “

“Dave Karofsky. I called Puck back to give him a piece of my mind before I came back upstairs and he told me.”

“Oh, Dave. He was a terrible bully, a real ringleader for a long time. But we were kind of friends later – when he helped save us at the gas station attack? He proved to be a good friend to have. After that he apologized for all the abuse he flung at me for so long. I just hope he's lived a good life since then,” Kurt said, turning to look at his husband.

“Thank you for not freaking out, although I did,” Kurt smiled at Blaine. “I do think I like Dave, enough to be his friend anyway. Tell Puck I don't mind if Dave comes to visit.”

~~

 

It was barely a week later when the kids were with their fathers, skinning logs to make a bridge over the slippery banks of the small creek that meandered across the meadow, separating the barns and other outbuildings from the house.

“Now, be careful with that axe, honey,” Blaine called to Jordy. He'd been peeling the log for a while and the boy was getting tired.

“Great job, buddy. Put it in this pile and we'll get the last one,” Kurt directed. He had helped Jordan draw the simple lines for the plan of the bridge and Blaine had taken Katie into the woods to harvest the right trees to construct the bridge.

“I have all the lumber cut for the bridge supports, let's get it put together,” Kurt smiled. He wished his father were there to see him managing this project, including the kids, making it a family affair. Even though Kurt knew his dad was proud of anything he did, doing an outdoor project always made him smile.

Just as the kids came over to decide which log would go where, the dogs started barking, rushing around the house to greet whomever was in the driveway. The Anderson-Hummel clan set down their tools and started towards the car.

 

Puck got out of his truck, his big German Shepherd following him, grinning as Jordy and Katie ran to hug him. Puck picked them up and spun them around, exciting them even more.

“We didn't know you were coming!” they shouted. “Where's Auntie Lenore? Where are Tony and Sarah? Who is that in your truck?”

“Calm down, little ones. Everything will be revealed,” Puck laughed. “First of all, your aunt and the kids are over visiting their grandparents in Warner Camp. Next, where are your fathers?”

“Coming...” Blaine said, walking up on the other side of the truck.

“Blaine! Good to see you, man. Where's Kurt?”

“Inside. Go ahead and let the kids show you our garden and I'll take it from here,” Blaine smiled with a knowing look. Puck smiled back, knowing this might be a tricky situation.

“Hey, kids – can you show me your garden?” he called over to the twins who were overjoyed to take his hands and lead him to the big kitchen garden in back of the house.

“We planted all kinds of vegetables and some watermelons! There are ripe cherry tomatoes, red and green peppers, some basil, and we can pick whatever . . . “ Blaine heard his children chattering as they led their uncle off across the meadow.

 

The door to the truck opened and Dave Karofsky stepped down hesitantly as the two retrievers swarmed him, sniffing and wagging their tails.

“Lucy, Scout, go get Jordy, go get Katie,” Blaine had to call the dogs off and sent them loping after the kids and Harley.

“Dave, good to see you. You're looking good,” Blaine said, holding out his hand to shake.

Dave took it, holding it gently in his big hand.

“So, are you still boxing? You still have one hell of a grip,” he smiled, glad to see his old friend, even if they hadn't kept up over the years.

Blaine blushed but his smile didn't fade.

“Nope, haven't put on the gloves in over ten years. No, I am the forester for the logging company and it keeps me fit,” Blaine explained.

“He's being modest. He's the owner of the company, along with his partner and brother – not just the forester,” Kurt said, stepping up to stand next to Dave. Blaine noticed that he'd combed his hair and washed his hands before coming outside.

“Kurt! Its so good to see you!” Dave gushed, starting to put out his hand to shake but Kurt had other ideas and threw his arms around the large man. Dave looked quite surprised but hugged Kurt back, his eyes squinting in pleasure as his smile grew.

“Good to see you, too. You shouldn't have stayed away for so long,” Kurt admonished his old friend.

“Well, if someone hadn't disappeared off the face of the Earth, taking his dad with him . . . “ Dave chided.

“Oh, I hadn't thought of that. Yes, Dad and Carol moved just before our wedding. I guess we did sort of disappear. Blaine and I came back to Oregon and we went to college here, Finn and Puck, too. So, how did you find us?” Kurt asked.

“I didn't. Actually, Puck found me. We had a fairly good relationship in high school for a while, before all the bullying started,” Dave said, then looked at Kurt.

“I'm so sorry, Kurt. If there is one thing in my life I could change. . . “

“Now, none of that. It's ancient history and you saving my life at the attack at that gas station erased it all. Let's go on from there,” Kurt insisted.

Dave nodded, his shame over his teenage transgressions showing on his face.

“Before we go any further, let's go inside and get something to drink?” Blaine suggested, ever the gentleman. He put a hand to Dave's back and steered him to the large front porch and into the log house.

“Oh, Kurt, Blaine! Wow!” he enthused, obviously impressed with the beautiful house. “And you built this? Puck told me.”

“Kurt is an architect and he drew up the plans for it. We had it built last year and moved from the old house over on Warner Mountain,” Blaine explained, proud of his husband.

“Oh, Puck showed it to me when we dropped the kids off with his in-laws. That is amazing. You sure are a wonder, Kurt. But then, you were always smart and creative. I'm not surprised you made yourself into something so spectacular,” Dave said, in awe of his former classmates.

They sat down on the willow settees in the large room and Blaine brought some fresh lemonade and a tray of snacks: fresh vegetables with hummus dip and crackers.

“Thank you,” Dave said, taking a napkin and several carrot and celery sticks.

“What have you been doing since we graduated?” Blaine asked, settling down next to Kurt and taking his hand for a moment to squeeze it. He'd been apprehensive about this visit, worrying after Kurt's strong reaction to the fear of those boys that beat him returning to his life. He was feeling better about it now, seeing how excited Kurt was to refresh a friendship with Karofsky.

“I went to college in San Francisco, met a great guy and got married. Philip was in graduate school when I was working on my bachelor's degree. He was getting his doctorate in psychology. It introduced me to counseling and it was – I don't know, a perfect fit,” Dave smiled.

“I'm so happy for you,” Kurt grinned, feeling like this was one of the happy endings they had all dreamed of in high school.

“I got my Master's in behavioral health therapy and we moved to Colorado. Phil and I live in a small town outside of Aspen. I'm a Licensed Professional Counselor specializing in adolescent relationship counseling. I work with Phil in our clinic in Aspen,” Dave finished, looking to find his friend's reactions.

“Oh, that's just wonderful. I really am glad for you,” Blaine said, placing his hand on Dave's and giving him an encouraging squeeze.

“How did you find us?” Kurt asked, going back to their original question.

“Oh, it was Puck's grandmother. Do you know Miss Sophie?”

“Of course. Grandma Sophie is close to all of our hearts,” Kurt smiled.

“Well, my grandmother was friends with her and they had written to each other for years. I was visiting my grandma in Ohio when she got a letter from Sophie telling her of Puck's impending baby. I asked for his phone number and voilà, here I am. I was so excited to connect with him after all these years, and then to find he was still so close to you two? Happy day!” Dave said.

“I never would have thought of that. I'm sorry to say I don't always keep in touch with all of the old gang. We saw Mercedes – she married Sam Evans and they have two children. Of course you know Finn married Rachel and they are expecting their first baby,” Kurt said, counting his friends on his fingers as he rattled them off.

“I heard just last night about her heart attack a few years ago, but Puck says she is healthy and doing fine?”

“Yes. Finn's mother flew out to New York to stay with them for a few weeks when the baby is due,” Blaine snickered.

Dave rolled his eyes.

“My mother and Phil's father both came to visit when we adopted little Freddy. I was so relieved when they went home!” Dave said.

“You have a son?” Kurt asked. “Pictures!”

Dave obliged, taking out his cell and showing his friends picture after picture of his husband and son.

“Phil grew up near Aspen, in Snowmass, and insisted Freddy learn to ski. I wasn't so keen on it, but Freddy is seven now and can ski better than I can. He ice skates, too. I am hoping for a hockey player but Phil is leaning towards figure skating. I guess Freddy can decide for himself, huh?” Dave said, closing his cell and slipping it back into his pocket.

“Where are Phil and Freddy now?” Blaine asked, curious why they weren't with Dave.

“Phil couldn't get away from the practice and Freddy is in school. I went to see Grandma and when she put me in touch with Puck, I called Phil to tell him all about it. He insisted I come to visit. Now I want to show him Oregon – its a combination of our two favorite places: the ocean and the mountains. I'm hoping to come next summer to vacation here. Well, in one of the little towns on the coast,” Dave told them.

“Why not spend part of that vacation here with us? We have plenty of room and the kids would love to meet your son,” Blaine offered after a quick look at Kurt. They could practically read each other's minds and one look conveyed to Blaine that Kurt agreed.

“We just might do that. Thank you so much,” Dave smiled.

“In the mean time, how about you stay for a few days? You and Puck can go fishing with us or hiking. We'd love to have you,” Kurt offered, his open and welcoming smile refreshing to Blaine, who had been worried about Kurt but was now content his husband was doing fine.

 

~~

As it turned out, Puck needed to go be with Lenore so he left Dave at the Hummel-Anderson home for a few days.

“What are we doing today, Tatay?” Jordan asked, coming down the stairs in the morning.

“Remember, we have all that milk from the cow? We're going to make some things with that,” Blaine told his son. Dave emerged from the guest room, dressed in jeans and a T-shirt as per his hosts' instructions. He knew they lived on a remote farm of sorts and was excited to join in some of the work that goes with living off the land. The twins had regaled him with stories of making jelly and canning pickles, planting the garden, milking goats and cows, and all manner of things the kids knew how to do.

“Ready to go, Dave?” asked Kurt as he descended the stairs with Katura.

“Sure. What's first?”

They took their guest out to gather eggs, milk the goats and cow, feed the livestock, and put the ponies and mules into the far meadow.

Dave came back to the house happy and ready to do more. His job as a therapist was his chosen life, but he missed doing a lot of physical work.

 

After breakfast, French toast made by Blaine and Jordan, they got the milk out of the spring house. It wasn't exactly like the spring house Blaine had grown up with – a log structure built over a fast running creek that kept the dairy things cold without electricity. This one had a backup generator, but it worked on the same principle. There were shelves inside that held the milk in pails after it was pasteurized.

 

“We are going to start with making cottage cheese and butter,” Blaine explained. “First, we need to skim the cream from these two pails of milk. Katie, you know how to do that,” he said and Katie got out the big metal spoon and a cream bucket, setting to work doing that job.

“There are a lot of kinds of butter churns,” Blaine told his guest and the children. “There are barrel churns, which are turned by a handle. I've never used one – only seen one in a museum. When I was a kid, my dad made us a plunge churn. Its the kind you see most often in books about pioneers and it has a dasher that is plunged up and down in the tub to churn the butter. I spent many, many hours plunging that churn on the front porch to make butter,” Blaine laughed, thinking of his childhood in the cabin with his dad and Cooper.

Kurt laughed. He'd met that churn first-hand and made butter in it several times. He'd had the sore arms to prove it.

“There were other types: a vertical churn that hung from a scaffold-type frame much like a bell. The barrel had baffles inside to agitate the cream. The churn was sloshed back and forth by pulling on a strap until it made the butter. There was one called a rocking-chair churn where the action was made by an actual rocking chair.

“You can make butter by just shaking cream in a mason jar if you want,” he said, raising Dave's eyebrows.

“How are we going to do it?” Dave asked, waiting to see if he was going to be using the dash to churn it in a tall wooden tub.

“With a paddle churn,” Blaine said, reaching into a cupboard in the kitchen and getting out a large glass container that held about a gallon and a half of cream. It had a set of paddles extending from the lid that dropped down into the cream when the lid was screwed on. It was churned by turning a crank on the top of the lid.

Blaine helped Katie pour the cream into the glass container and fit the lid on. Jordan was first to turn the crank, watching the four paddles stir the cream inside. Dave took a turn next, watching as the specks of butter, hardly the size of a grain of rice, began to form. They took turns until all of the butter was in a clump on the paddles.

“Next you pour off the buttermilk and save it for other purposes,” Blaine told them, getting a pitcher to keep the buttermilk in.

He went on to demonstrate washing the butter by pouring in fresh water and swishing it until it was cloudy and repeating until it came out clear. The butter was removed and put on a marble slab – the one he used to roll out pie crusts – and salted. Then they used butter paddles to squeeze out any leftover moisture and finally the butter was pressed into molds and turned out, each to be wrapped in waxed paper and placed in the refrigerator.

“That was fascinating. I had no idea how butter was made,” Dave told them, his smile showing his pleasure in being included in the making of it.

 

“Oh, we're not done,” Kurt said, a knowing smile on his lips.

“Cottage cheese!” Katie crowed, taking her daddy's hand and leading him to a pan of milk he'd set on the back of the stove.

“Okay, this is milk that our Katie has made ready by removing the cream from the top – you just made butter out of that,” Kurt started. “What's left is what you would buy as whole milk in a grocery store, it still contains some cream, maybe 4% or so.”

He stepped them through heating the milk to temperature, adding rennet, and then let it set for four hours.

 

They ate lunch, played a game of kickball in the meadow, and fished for a while in the stream in the middle of the blackberry patch. Dave, Blaine, and Jordan caught enough trout for supper. Poor Katie didn't get a bite on her line.

 

Back in the kitchen, the milk was now a velvety, jiggly mass. Kurt took a sharp knife and cut it diagonally six times and then six times the other direction. He sprinkled some salt on it and set it on the warm edge of the stove and let it heat again, just until the curds separated from the whey.

Jordan lined a large colander with a piece of muslin, set it inside a bowl and Kurt poured the curds in. He stirred it gently to drain off the whey and let it sit and drain for another hour in the refrigerator while Blaine made biscuits to go with the fish for supper.

The children begged Dave to come out with them to 'make salad', coming back with a basket full of vegetables: lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, sweet peppers, and some red cabbage to make into a large salad for supper.

As the final step, Kurt removed the curds from the colander and put them into a bowl, pouring some fresh cream over it all and stirring gently.

They served the trout, dipped in cornmeal and fried to perfection, the salad, cottage cheese, and biscuits with the newly made butter and blackberry jam for supper.

“We make cottage cheese, but we want to expand that a bit. We have found a cave in the side of the mountain and were thinking of aging some cheese in there. There's a cheese-making group in Philomath that we might join to learn how to make different types of cheese,” Kurt told Dave.

“That sounds great. You guys are living the dream, aren't you?” he smiled.

 

The next day was Dave's last before he returned home to Colorado. The twins really liked him and Kurt was glad he'd come to visit.

“What would you like to do today, Mr. Karofsky?” Katura asked the man. She was sitting at the table after breakfast, brushing her long red hair.

“Don't brush your hair at the table, missy. You know better than that,” Blaine scolded her.

“Oh, sorry, Tatay. I forgot,” she blushed, then kicked her brother under the table for laughing at her.

“Tatay?” Dave asked, looking over at Blaine.

“It's Filipino for 'daddy'. Part of my family was from the Philippines,” he explained, taking the brush from his daughter's hand and brushing her long tresses. They looked like spun gold in the sunlight streaming in the window.

“Do you ever wear your hair in French braids?” Dave asked.

“What's a French braid?” Katie questioned.

“I can show you if you like?” he offered. “All I need is a bit of water, maybe in a spray bottle, and a comb.”

Katie got up in a flash and was up the stairs to get her comb. Kurt went to the kitchen and got the spray bottle he used when ironing.

In no time, Dave was pulling Katie's hair into tiny braids along each side of the top of her head, weaving more and more strands into the braids until she had two neat and beautiful reverse French braids, tied at the ends with green ribbons that matched her shirt.

“Oh, thank you, Mr. Karofsky!” she thrilled, excited to have this new fashion.

“Why don't you call me Dave?” he offered. “That goes for you, too, Jordan.”

“Thank you, Mr. Dave,” she said, going over and giving him a hug. Dave smiled and hugged her back, very gently and looking over her shoulder at Kurt as if to ask permission. Kurt smiled at him.

“Where did you learn to French braid? Daddy said you have a son. Is his hair long enough to braid?” Jordan asked.

“No, it isn't. I had two sisters and they taught me,” Dave told the boy. “What should we do on my last day on your mountain?” he asked the boy.

“Fishing?” Jordan asked. He loved to go fishing in the river. “Daddy ties his own flies. Tatay taught him when he got lost here, when they met.”

Dave looked at Kurt and grinned.

“Looks like we all have secret talents, huh?” he laughed.

 

They got all of the equipment and hiked over to the big river. Dave never stopped smiling the whole time.

Getting all of the fishing gear out, it wasn't long before all five of them were standing along the bank, lines in the water. They pulled some brook trout, a few rainbows, and one large-mouth bass within the first hour.

They sat in the grass near the river, far enough away so the ground wasn't wet. Blaine had brought a picnic basket with sandwiches and a half of a blueberry pie.

“Great pie,” Dave praised, licking his lips and leaning back against a smooth boulder. “You guys are spoiling me!”

“Tatay and I made the pie, Katura picked the berries,” Jordan told him, proud of his family.

“I hope you all can come to Colorado and visit my family and me one of these days. Do you come down from your mountain very often?” Dave asked.

“We go to visit Grandpa Burt and Grandma Carol,” Jordan said.

“Maybe you could come stay with me and my husband in Colorado? We would love to have you. Just give me a call and you can stay with us,” Dave offered, a smile on his face.

“We might just take you up on that,” Blaine said, liking the idea of seeing more of the country with his family. They had never taken the kids on a real vacation.

“I'd never leave if I lived on this mountain,” Dave declared as he patted his stomach and smiled at Kurt's family. “You live in paradise here.”

Kurt and Blaine smiled at each other, knowing that although there would still be challenges, they really did live in paradise.



 

Chapter Text

 

Return to Glory – Chapter Nine – Adele

 

I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.

~Louisa May Alcott, Little Women




 

Burt & Carol's Home

Philomath, Oregon

 

“Uncle Finn!” Jordy laughed as the big man stepped out of the SUV and swung him into the air before catching him. He and his twin had been waiting on the porch for Grandpa Burt to bring their new cousin from the airport with his aunt and uncle from New York.

“Can we see Dell?” Katie asked politely. She had been imagining how the baby would look for weeks now.

“It's Adele, not Dell,” Jordan told his sister. She nodded back.

“Adele.”

“Yes, you can. She's up from her nap and had her lunch. The perfect time to see her!” Finn said, taking the baby's car seat out of the vehicle and holding Rachel's arm to help her up the stairs and into the Victorian house that Kurt and Blaine had bought when they were in college.

 

 

“Where's my niece?” Kurt asked as he thundered down the stairs, Blaine on his heels.

“Shhh, Daddy! You're gonna scare her!” Jordan said, sitting beside his sister. “Besides, it's my turn next, Auntie Rachel said so.” Katura was holding the tiny girl, her eyes twinkling. Jordan grinned at his parents, brushing his thick black hair out of his eyes.

 

Kurt rushed over and picked Rachel up, spinning her around and giving her a sweet kiss on her cheek. Blaine leaned over to kiss the other cheek.

“How are you doing, Mommy?” Blaine asked, grinning at his sister-in-law.

“I'm fine, thank you. I took the year off, so I am getting plenty of rest. Well, as much rest as a new baby will allow,” she answered, smiling at Kurt and Blaine. She really missed them a lot.

“How is the social worker game in New York?” Kurt asked Finn after giving his brother a giant hug.

“It's good. I took three months off, so we're here for a month and then back to New York for a month before I go back to work,” he explained. They had waited until Adele was a month old before coming to Oregon.

The baby had been premature, but hadn't really had any health problems. Rachel and Finn had been stunned to find Rachel pregnant – in eight years of marriage they hadn't used birth control. Rachel's doctor hadn't thought pregnancy was likely given her health issues, but she had surprised them all and got pregnant, then been fine throughout the whole pregnancy.

“How is the old ticker?” Kurt said in a kidding manner, not wanting to cast a shadow over the gathering but wanting to know about how her heart was doing. She'd had a heart attack at the age of twenty due to stress and had been in delicate health ever since.

“It's ticking away just great,” she said with a smile. Finn came up in back of her and put his arms around her, kissing her neck.

“She only does two plays a year, so no letting herself get run down. I work three days a week at the office and two from home. It works out well for us,” Finn said, smiling at his brother.

Rachel had gone over to move the baby from Katura's lap to Jordan's and the boy was grinning from ear to ear.

“She is so tiny! Like one of Katie's dolls,” Jordy said. He touched her hand and the little baby girl grabbed his finger and held it tightly.

“Look! Adele is holding Jordy's finger,” Katura said in a stage whisper.

“Yes, she does that. She must like you two a lot,” Finn said, going over to kneel in front of his niece and nephew.

“She does, Uncle Finn! Did you see her smile at me?” Katie said, her eyes sparkling.

“I did. Adele, honey, you are going to love your cousins, aren't you?” Finn said, loving the reaction of the twins to their baby cousin.

“So, Adele is our cousin because Uncle Finn is your brother,” Jordan asked, looking at his daddy.

“Yes, that's right,” Kurt answered but Jordan still looked puzzled.

“Then whose brother is Uncle Puck?” he asked, “Because Anthony and Sarah are our cousins.”

“Well, they aren't really your cousins, Jordy. Your Grandpa Burt has known Grandma Sophie since he was a little boy and I have been friends with Uncle Noah since we were boys. Uncle Noah lived with us here in this house when we all went to college, so he's like a brother.

“I've known Lenore since we were little, she was like a sister to me, so just call them your uncle and aunt,” Blaine explained.

The twins nodded their heads, old enough to understand.

 

“Okay, your fathers want to hold her,” Rachel said, taking Adele and putting her into Kurt's arms. Unlike her high-strung mother, baby Adele seemed to take all these changing arms in stride and just gave each new face a bit of a smile and settle in.

“Oh, Rachel, what a beautiful little girl,” Kurt cooed, giving her a tiny kiss on her soft little cheek.

“I wish we could have a new baby,” Katie whispered loudly to her brother.

“Let's go see what your grandma is doing for supper, huh, kids?” Finn asked, taking them by the hands and going off to the kitchen. “Tell me all about homeschooling...”

 

“How are you really doing?” Kurt asked, looking straight into Rachel's eyes.

“I wasn't hiding anything. I really am doing great. The birth was kinda rough, but other than that, I was fine. It helped that Carol came. My dads were no help at all, although they tried, bless their hearts. Carol had everything organized and running like a well-oiled machine in no time,” Rachel smiled.

“We're so happy for you and Finn,” Blaine said, smiling back.

“I'm going to go help Finn and the twins with supper if you're okay holding Adele? She might fall asleep for you,” Rachel said, leaving the two men alone with the baby.

 

Blaine looked at his husband holding the baby. Blaine sat patiently next to Kurt and waited his turn, his thoughts going back to the days when Katura was tiny and in his arms for the very first time. Jordan was a bit older when he came into their lives, but holding him was just as emotional. He blinked back hot tears just as Kurt turned to look at him.

“Hey...are you okay, baby?” Kurt asked, looking into Blaine's eyes.

“Yeah, just thinking,” he replied.

“Of the day we first held Katura?” Kurt guessed.

“Yeah, it was one of the best days of my life,” Blaine said, a tear escaping to slide slowly down his cheek. Kurt leaned forward to kiss the tear away.

“Mine, too. Along with the day I met you...”

“The day we got married up on the mountain...”

“And the day we got Jordan.”

“We have been blessed in this life, haven't we?” Blaine said as Kurt moved little Adele into his husband's arms. Blaine held her close, rocking her until she fell asleep, then leaning back into Kurt's arms to wait for supper.

They didn't see Burt as he passed by from the hall to the kitchen, hesitating to look at his son and Blaine as they watched little Adele sleeping. The love-light in their eyes made him think that maybe it was time for them to perhaps add to their family.

 

~

After supper, the whole extended family went into the large backyard to sit and watch the sun going down. The twins were running around in the grass, playing their own version of croquet with the mallets and balls Burt had bought for them for their last birthday. They giggled and squealed, making shots to try and hit each other's wooden balls across the grass.

 

The garden was beautiful, pink climbing roses growing up the trellises alongside blue clematis vines, purple and pink hydrangeas with heavy balls of tiny blooms, and a bed of all very tall plants: hollyhocks, gladiolas and delphiniums. Throughout the flowerbeds were a kaleidoscope of colors, every shade of pink, purple, orange, yellow, red, blue and white.

One flowerbed were what Kurt thought of as 'old fashioned' flowers that they had planted for Grandma Sophie when she lived there: purple periwinkle, spicy-scented carnations, orange and pink butterfly plants, sweet scented phlox, blue columbines, red poppies, pastel sweet peas, and both red and white daisies.

Kurt went to walk along the beds, seeing all the new additions and marveling at the choices and varieties Carol had planted over the years. Blaine came and took his hand, walking among the different beds. They stopped under two romantic weeping willows, marveling at the shade garden filled with lilies-of-the-valley, coral bells, sweet williams, various hostas and graceful ferns. Blaine rested his head on Kurt's shoulder but turned as Carol came to join them.

“Oh, Carol! You have a new project,” Kurt said, looking across the huge yard to a garden on the side of a rolling hill. It was filled with granite rocks, tumbling down the hill as though they had always been there. In the spaces between the rocks were tiny plants.

“Its a work in progress, Kurt. I find so much joy in making a garden but its a slow process. Grandma Sophie has been a treasure house of knowledge and your dad has helped me with it, too,” Carol told her step-son.

“I hope he didn't lift any of these heavy rocks?” Kurt asked, worried as ever about his father's health.

“No, Puck came over with some of the boys from the garage and moved the rocks from the truck bed to the garden. He's such a good boy,” Carol gushed. She had a real affection for Noah Puckerman.

“Okay then. Oh, look at these tiny flowers!” Kurt said, leaning down and looking at a small bunch of forget-me-nots tucked into a pocket between the colorful rocks. He looked around spotting different varieties of sedum, rock cress, creeping jenny, speedwell, tiny moss roses, and thyme.

“You have done an amazing job, Carol, not only with this rock garden but with all of the garden. It looks like the cover of Better Homes and Gardens,” Kurt complemented her.

“I only worked with what you and Blaine started,” she tried to say, not wanting to take all the credit.

“Carol, you made a miracle happen. We had a few lilies and roses – you turned it into a showplace,” Blaine smiled, taking her hand and giving it a squeeze. Carol smiled back at him and led the men back over to sit with the family.

 

“I made some cheesecake for dessert,” Carol offered.

Rachel just started to say something and Carol put up a hand to stop her.

“It is vegan friendly, my dear,” Carol said, smiling at Rachel.

Rachel blushed and gave her mother-in-law a grateful grin.

Katura came over to help her grandmother spoon the raspberry sauce they had made together over the slices of cheesecake.

“Oh, my favorite,” Kurt said to his daughter, happily taking the large slice she served to him.

Finn came out the back door holding his tiny daughter.

“Here she is – clean and sweet smelling once more,” he laughed, having changed her diaper, “Here's your darling Adele, honey,” Finn laughed, nestling the baby into his wife's arms and adjusting her blanket.

“Oh! You named her after the singer, Adele!” Katura burst out, looking over at her Uncle Finn.

Rachel laughed.

“No, sweetie, we didn't. That is just a coincidence. We named her after my dad's Aunt Adele. I loved her as a kid and I really like the name,” Rachel said.

“But if it makes you feel any better, her middle name is Barbra – after Barbra Streisand,” Finn told his niece with a smile.

“Who's that?” Katie asked.

Rachel gasped and stared at Kurt.

“I thought you were seeing to her education, Mr. Kurt Hummel!” she shouted.

“It's time to go,” Blaine said, hurrying Kurt back into the house to avoid Hurricane Rachel.

 

“How could he not have taught them about the great singers of our time?” Rachel almost sobbed.

“I know who Barbra Streisand is, Auntie,” Jordan whispered, taking his aunt's hand in his. He kissed her cheek.

“Oh, Jordan, you are so sweet. Thank you. Your sister was just teasing, right?” she asked.

“I don't know. She doesn't pay attention the way I do, or it might have slipped her mind. Your middle name is Barbra, didn't Uncle Finn say?” Jordy asked. Rachel nodded.

“So, she's named after you, too. I like that,” Jordan said, smiling at his aunt.

~~

 

Little Sisters of Mercy Hospital

Philomath, Oregon

 

Burt jogged down the hall, a bit miffed at himself for being late. He spent just a little bit too long kissing Carol goodbye in the kitchen this morning. Plus, he had a lot on his brain. He was still thinking about Kurt and Blaine and seeing them holding baby Adele. He knew the look of longing in his son's eyes and he thought Blaine was feeling the same thing.

 

On his way into the changing room to get his gown on, Burt glanced at the white board to see which neonatal nurse was scheduled to be on for Burt's assigned babies. It was Nan, one of his favorites.

 

“Burt! Good to see you, I was beginning to worry, you're never late,” Trixie, the ward administrator called as Burt walked down the hall to his first baby of the day.

“Sorry, I just got delayed. It won't happen again,” he smiled at the older woman. He'd had coffee with her and knew she was only a year younger than he was.

“Don't worry, Burt, it's maybe twelve minutes. Have a good day,” she said as he passed by the desk.

 

He entered the room, opening the blinds to let in the sunlight, even though the little girl couldn't see it, she could feel it. He was going to ask Dr. Leslie tomorrow if he could maybe take her out in the courtyard so she could hear the birds in the trees and feel the breeze on her face.

“Where's my little darling? Under the bed? Maybe over by the window?” Burt said in a sing-song voice. He broke into song. “Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer true. I'm half crazy, all for the love of you. . . “

He walked over to his favorite baby's crib, reaching down to touch the baby's arm. Daisy jumped just a bit then smiled, kicking her feet in excitement because she knew this was Burt. He gently picked her up, cuddling her close to his body. She nuzzled into his embrace, picking at the buttons on his shirt. A tiny smile came to her face as she touched a dog-shaped button that Kurt had sewn on the shirt at Burt's request. Daisy's face frowned a bit, her fingers going over and over the button to feel the unusual shape. Then she smiled.

“Is my darling hungry?” Burt asked, touching her unseeing face with the nipple on the bottle. She turned her head towards him and took the nipple into her mouth to suck.

“That's my girl, drink your breakfast,” he encouraged.

He began reciting her favorite story about the Snowy Day. Daisy kicked her feet and drank faster. He wondered if she was getting better, but put that thought aside. Her doctor had warned Burt once again not to fall in love with this baby, her chances weren't very good. He sighed, not wanting to admit to himself that he couldn't see any improvements in the little girl. She still needed love, no matter what, and he was here to provide it.

“Want to hear the story about the Hungry Caterpillar?” he asked as he got out her favorite toy: the ridiculous rainbow-colored dog with all the textures. She found the ear that made the crinkly sound and rubbed it as he recited the other of her favorite stories.

Daisy was asleep in just a few minutes and Burt kissed her cheek before nestling her into her crib. He tucked the blanket around her shoulders and wiped a tear from his eye.

 

~

Mt Russell

Anderson-Hummel Homestead

 

“Oh, Kurt! This is even more spectacular than the house on Warner Mountain,” Rachel said, getting out of the back seat of the SUV and stretching her arms. It was a good 45 minute drive from the bottom of Mt Russell to their home.

As they all got out of the SUV, their front door opened and the dogs came rushing out. A bit slower came a girl. She was nineteen, although she looked not a day over sixteen. Her blonde hair was cut in a medium length that enabled her to pull it into a pony tail on the top of her head. She had shaved one side of her head, which made the pony tail a bit off-center. She had several tattoos on her arms that could be seen and a pair of scruffy cargo pants.

“Kitty, how did it go?” Blaine asked.

“Everybody was fine. I milked Kimberly and the goats and put the milk in the cans in the spring house. The chickens laid a ton of eggs. I ate some, like you said I could, and the rest are on the counter in the kitchen. I picked some of the ripe veggies from the garden,” she related to him, “They're in the refrigerator.”

“Thank you, Kitty. I feel good we left you in charge,” Blaine smiled at the young girl.

“My pleasure. I'll get my things out of the guest room and be on my way then,” she said, turning to go back in the house.

“Ah, Kitty?” Kurt said, walking over to join Blaine in speaking to the girl.

She turned and stood silently, her eyes on Kurt now, pierced eyebrow raised.

“We would like it if you stayed for a while. We've been looking for someone to help take care of the place and you seem to fit with us. What do you say?”

“Yes, Mr Hummel-Anderson. I'd like that very much. For a while. I might need to be moving on in a month or so, but I can stay until then. If it isn't any trouble. I can work for my keep, I've been doing that most of my life,” Kitty assured him. She looked from Kurt to Blaine and back, making sure of her welcome.

“Call me Kurt,” he asked her, smiling.

“Sounds like a deal. Welcome to our home,” Blaine said.

 

They had needed to have someone stay at the house when they went to Philomath. Usually Cooper and August stayed to look after the livestock, but they had work to do and Blaine always felt as if he were imposing upon his brother.

A few weeks ago Blaine been with a crew over on Mt Warner, cutting trees in a small valley on the far side of the mountain. Kitty had been hired a few months before that, but the men on the crew didn't have much confidence in her and she resented it since she gave the work her all. Blaine could see that she tried to do whatever the men did, but she was small – even if she was scrappy – and when a stray branch hit her leg and sent her to sick leave for a few days, he asked her if she would come home with him and watch the homestead while he went to Philomath with his family.

Kitty was shy of Kurt and the kids at first, but they brought her out of her shell and soon she felt like part of the family. She still hesitated to join in until she was coaxed, whether it was sitting down to a meal or playing cards in the evening.

 

Blaine and Kurt walked out to see the barns after they'd put away the things from their suitcases. They held hands, walking over the new bridge the kids had helped build earlier that summer. Rachel and Finn were playing a board game with Katie and Jordy, Kitty sitting on the settee and watching them. She was still shy, especially of Finn, and couldn't be coaxed into playing, but she was content to sit and read in the same room. Blaine thought of that as progress.

“This one log is a bit loose. I'll come down and look it over after breakfast tomorrow. I think the peg didn't set right, I can fix it,” Kurt said as he heard a different sound coming from the one log as they walked over the bridge.

“It turned out great, I think,” Blaine offered, smiling at his husband and swinging their arms back and forth as they held hands on the way to the barn.

They were almost there, stopped to give each other a few kisses, when they heard Kitty.

“Mr. Blaine?” she called, then stopped abruptly as she came around the big pine tree next to the path.

“Oh, sorry. I didn't know you came out here to make out! I thought you were going to see the livestock and I forgot to tell you one of the chickens was poorly and I can go back to the house now and show you in the morning after I milk the cows and the goats . . . “ she rambled on nervously, her eyes wandering anywhere but on Kurt and Blaine embracing on the path.

“Kitty, Kitty – its okay, girl. We kiss all the time, we wouldn't have to sneak away for that,” Blaine laughed.

“Just ask the twins,” Kurt smirked.

“I didn't mean to interrupt your alone time,” Kitty blushed.

“Its fine. Now, what's this about one of the chickens?” Blaine asked and led the way to the chicken house where he caught the lame chicken easily and inspected its foot.

“Oh, see – she got a thorn in there. I can get that out...” Blaine said, plucking the thorn from the poor little chicken's foot and letting her flutter to a roost in the yard.

“She'll be fine. It didn't look infected or anything, just sore,” Blaine assured the girl.

“I'll be getting back to the house then,” Kitty said, leaving to walk quickly, but then stopped to observe something. She crouched down and her eyes were watching something as it moved across the meadow. Blaine and Kurt caught up to her.

“Whatcha looking at?” Kurt asked, trying to focus his eyes on whatever was so far away.

“Bees. I have been watching them all week. There seems to be a lot of them come to dip pollen from all these wildflowers,” she said, pointing to a group of yellow buttercups. Blaine's and Kurt's eyes followed and they both saw the bees.

“Wow, I had no idea how many bees were in the meadow,” Kurt said, smiling. He had read about the problems wild bees were having these days.

“If you get hives – or even a hollowed-out log – we can go get those bees and you can have honey and wax whenever you want it,” Kitty told them.

“Do you know anything about bees?” Kurt asked.

“Yeah. My Grandpappy and I kept 'em. He taught me to follow them to find the hive, then we smoked 'em and brought 'em home. It isn't easy, but if you're careful it isn't too hard, either,” Kitty said.

“Maybe we can do that, too.” Blaine thought. He was always happy to find another way for his family to be self-sufficient. He could easily afford to buy gallons of honey and have it brought to his door every day of the year, but the idea of supplying his family's needs by his own two hands, with the help of plants and animals, was what he was all about.

 

~

The idea of having his own honey bees kept at Blaine's brain. He finally got out his laptop computer one evening and looked up bee supplies. He's need a bit of money to start up – and a beekeeper suit so he didn't get stung, the hives, the equipment, the separator, and other things. He conferred with Kurt and they put in an order for the supplies to be delivered.

Kurt smiled at his husband. He loved to see Blaine so happy at the prospect of a new project.

 

~

“Can we steam the carrots and cauliflower tonight maybe?” Rachel asked as she peeled the carrots Finn had brought in with Jordan. The boy had taken his uncle out to the garden to 'pick supper' and brought in the first cauliflower of the season.

“I love them like that!” Katie crowed, excited to have their own vegetables for supper. She hurried in to help with getting the pan, lid, and steamer basket ready for cooking.

They worked together, Rachel, Kurt, and the children. Kitty wasn't a cook, she was more of an outdoors type, so she sat and played cribbage with Blaine while Finn kibitzed. Blaine had taught him to play back when Blaine lived with the Hummel-Hudson family during high school.

“Fifteen two, fifteen four, fifteen six and a pair is eight,” Finn counted. Blaine didn't say anything, just stared at Finn for a whole minute.

“You done?”

“Yes, that's all I see . . . “ Finn said, looking over his cards.

“Then I guess I'll take the extra two points you don't want out of that hand,” Blaine said, pointing at a two and a four to go with the nine that Finn had overlooked.

“Damn it!” Finn cursed, realizing too late that he had miscounted. “I guess I'm just rusty from not playing for so long.”

“Finn, you just played last week with Burt. And you play me at least once or twice every week at home!” Rachel called from the kitchen.

“Hey, no comments from the peanut gallery,” Finn growled, slightly embarrassed by his wife's sudden memory.

Rachel giggled and Finn grinned in her direction, happy to see his wife so carefree, even if it was at his expense.

Blaine counted his own and moved his nail in the board, not forgetting the two points he 'took' from Finn, before he picked up the cards to shuffle and deal the new hand.

 

~

“Okay now, get your eyes on a single bee, then we'll follow it to another bunch of flowers until we find the hive,” Kitty told Kurt and Blaine. She had made them dress in long pants and long-sleeved shirts with gloves this morning when they went out to find the early morning bees, busy at a bunch of cosmos in the meadow.

Cosmos flowers weren't native to this part of the country, but Blaine had bought a whole tin of seeds and scattered them last fall – hoping to see a whole field of them come spring. He wasn't disappointed. It reminded him of the fields of purple cosmos at the beginning of the movie The Color Purple he'd seen with Kurt one night during college. Kurt had mentioned how beautiful that field was and Blaine remembered.

They picked out a bee, followed it to the next field, the next meadow, the next draw near a creek until they could hear the buzzing of a hive in a piece of a hollow log.

“Looks better than some places it could be,” Kitty told them. “Let's get out the equipment and wait until evening.”

Rachel had been more than happy to sit with Finn and the twins while Kurt and Blaine went off with Kitty to find themselves some bees. While she didn't object to them getting their own hives to provide for their family and perhaps earn a bit of profit on the side, she was vegan and therefore didn't eat honey.

The sun finally decided to call it a day and dropped closer to the horizon. Kitty moved forward with her smoker, waving her employers behind her. They began by stunning the bees with the smoke while Kitty showed them how to remove the bees and everything they needed from the hive. They took all the honey they could scrape and filled the log with mud so the bees wouldn't return to it.

By the next morning, the bees were set up in their new home: a ten-frame hive made of cedar wood and looking like a tiny house way out in the east meadow. It was sitting by several other hives waiting for more bees. Blaine had spared no expense, buying the top of the line hives and equipment, in spite of Kitty assuring him he didn't need to spend that kind of money just to get some honey.

Blaine was quite pleased with himself as he watched the bees leave their new hive the next morning, off to find pollen in the fields of wildflowers across the mountain's meadows. He grinned over at Kitty, who stood with her leg propped up on the corral fence in back of the barn as she fiddled with the piercing in her eyebrow and watched Blaine and Kurt watching the bees.

“I know you think I just did this to get some honey, and that may have been my first thought, but we have a whole orchard planted up that side of the mountain – and we're going to need bees to pollinate it. I think we're two steps ahead of the game if we have our own bees, right?”

Kurt leaned over and placed a very chaste kiss oh his lips.

Kitty rolled her eyes and repositioned herself a little farther away, keeping one of the mules between herself and the men. Kurt covered a laugh by coughing a bit, then turned back to Blaine, who was also trying to cover his amusement at the new hired hand. She really was young. Kurt turned back to Blaine.

“Yes, baby, I think you are the smartest farmer-rancher-forester-lumberjack-husband-prince-charming that I could ever imagine. I love you.”

Blaine giggled and kissed him again, just happy to be there in the open meadow, in the sunshine with his husband. It was going to be another amazing day.

 


 

 

Chapter Text

 

Return to Glory – Chapter Ten – So Dear To Our Hearts

 

“Courage, dear heart!”

~ C.S.Lewis, The Voyage of the 'Dawn Treader'


 

 

October

Philomath, Oregon

 

It was a damp, rainy, gloomy day and Burt had trouble convincing his body to get out of bed. It didn't help that Carol was up on Mt. Russell with Finn and Rachel, getting them ready to go back to New York after their month's stay in Oregon. Burt was going to miss his newest little grand-baby. That Adele was so cute.

 

Yesterday had been a good day. Dr. Leslie had finally agreed that Burt could take Daisy out to the courtyard and feel the sunshine directly on her skin. It was the reason he hadn't gone up the mountain to be with his children and grandchildren.

Getting Daisy ready took a while – she was hooked up to so many wires and tubes – but Nan helped him. He'd kept the outing to just a few minutes, not wanting Daisy to get burned her first day outside, but he thought he could tell that she liked it.

There wasn't much breeze, but enough and Daisy had made that face Burt equated to laughing. After, Daisy hadn't wanted him to leave. She didn't fall asleep like usual but instead held on tightly to his shirt buttons and he'd stayed an extra hour just to rock her as she cuddled close to him. It wasn't hard to keep from imagining this little girl as his own daughter.

He thought again about asking Carol if they could adopt her. He really loved this precious angel.

 

That morning, Burt walked down the hallway to the kitchen and poured himself some granola, then added some of that cashew milk that Carol bought. He'd rather have real dairy milk, but this would do. He wondered how the hell they made milk out of cashews.

 

Ring! Ring!

 

“Hello?”

 

 

“Yeah, it's me.”

 

 

“Oh, hello, Dr Leslie.

 

 

“Yeah, sure, I can come in. Just let me get dressed and I'll be right over. See you then.”

 


 

He poured out his medications for the day, adding two extra-strength Tylenol for his aching joints and was on the way to the hospital. Maybe they got in a new baby and needed him to get acquainted. Dr. Leslie had begun to request Burt more and more often these days for difficult cases.

 

“Good morning, Trixie. 'Morning, Nan.” Burt waved cheerfully to the two women. They waved back but didn't look cheerful at all. Oh, well, they might be tired from a difficult case this morning.

 

Burt knocked on Dr. Leslie's door and walked in when he heard his voice.

“Burt, thank you for coming so soon,” Dr Leslie greeted him, shaking his hand, “Please sit down.”

Burt was a bit puzzled, the doctor usually didn't shake his hand, he just got right down to telling him about the new case. Burt sat down.

“No problem, Doc. Tell me about the new baby?”

“No new baby this morning. Ah, Burt - I have some sad news.” The man hesitated, then put on a grim face and continued. “I'm so sorry to tell you, but Daisy passed away last night,” he said, his grief showing on his face.

“No – she couldn't have. I just had her out for the first time to hear birds and feel the sunshine on her little face . . . Oh, my God. It was me taking her out that did it . . .” Burt said, his imagination working to convince him it was his fault, that taking her outside that did it, that's why Dr. Leslie had been so against it.

“No, Burt, no. She loved it, I came to see her not long after you left. She was happy, trying to make noises. She was so cute. No, it was a sudden stroke in her sleep. She never felt a thing, I promise. It was nothing anyone could have foreseen. We knew she was in precarious health, but this wasn't something we had predicted at all. I assure you, Burt, it was not your fault. You gave that girl months of happiness she would never have had. . . “ he started, trying to convince Burt not to blame himself. He'd warned Burt not to fall in love with her.

“Ah, Doctor, thank you for letting me know. I think . . . I need to go home. Now.”

 

~~

The weather only got worse. The rain came down and the clouds got thicker. It was miserable. Burt walked to the park and sat, looking into the murky lake. It didn't help much. He prayed to his long-dead wife, Elizabeth, asking her to please look after Daisy for him. He knew she would.

 

After long hours of trying not to think of it, he called JoLinda Charles, the social worker in charge of children without parents that became wards of the state. Daisy had been one of those orphans, a ward of the state.

He offered to foot the bill to bury Daisy and Mrs Charles agreed to it. She would get the necessary paperwork signed. She told Burt he was a blessing. He didn't feel like a blessing. If he'd had any godly qualities, he'd have been able to do more for Daisy. He'd have been able to save her and make her a better life.

 

Burt went back to bed to take a nap and try to forget. But he knew he would never forget her any more than he could forget Kurt's mother.

He shouldn't have thought about Elizabeth. He felt so guilty that he'd left her behind in Ohio – with nobody there to visit her grave. He wondered if he should have her moved here to Oregon. He wondered how soon Carol would be home because he needed her.

The tears finally came, streaming down.

~

 

Burt called Carol on Kurt's satellite phone and told her. He told her not to try and come down from the mountain in this weather, it was treacherous and she wasn't used to driving in the mountains on slushy dirt roads.

 

Later that night Kurt was there, hugging his father.

“Oh, Kurt . . .” Burt dissolved into tears, letting his son hold him the way he'd held Kurt when Elizabeth had died. When he was done, when he had no more tears to cry, he looked up. Carol was standing there, and Burt realized that she knew he had needed Kurt right then. Carol would be there for him, she would hold him in the night when he would need to talk about Daisy, but she was wise enough to know he needed Kurt first. He loved Carol.

 

“Dad, I'm so sorry. I remember how happy Daisy looked when you brought me up to visit her. I was so glad she liked the doggie button we put on your shirt for her to feel. You made that little girl's life happy, Dad. She was so lucky to have you . . .”

“Thank you, son. I just hope I made a difference.”

“You did, Burt. Poor little angel. I wish we could do something more for her,” Carol said.

“Where are Rachel and Finn – and Blaine and all the grandbabies?” Burt asked, looking around.

“All upstairs in our rooms, Dad. I didn't know if you were up to seeing all of them,” Kurt told his father, taking his hand and holding it.

“I'm better now, Kurt. Thank you. And thank you, Carol, my darling,” Burt told them, wiping his eyes. “Bring them down. I need to say goodbye to Rachel and Finn, and Adele. I really want to hold her.”

 

And so they came down to share Burt's grief, talking about all the things they had heard about Daisy and to tell Burt of their sorrow. The twins cried, having heard about the little girl with no eyes and knowing how special she was to Burt.

 

“I spoke to your old friend, JoLinda Charles,” Burt told Kurt and Blaine later. He sat holding Carol's hand. He'd already told her what he offered to do for Daisy when he first called Carol yesterday and she'd agreed.

He told his boys about wanting to pay for her burial. Kurt and Blaine looked at each other and nodded heads in a silent agreement.

“Dad, I think it would be nice to bury her up on Mt Warner, near where Blaine's father is buried. It's quiet up there, so beautiful and close to nature. What do you think?” Kurt asked.

Burt sat and thought for a few minutes.

“If that is something you want – and if its okay with Cooper and the Warner family?”

“It's on my land, Burt. I didn't know it at the time, but Mr Warner arranged to bury my dad on Anderson land. I know Cooper won't mind at all. I'll call him later today, but he'll agree,” Blaine assured his father-in-law. “We can arrange for a headstone, just let me know what you'd like it to say.”

 

~~

Little Sisters of Mercy Hospital

Philomath, Oregon

 

They had the memorial service at the hospital chapel with all the staff who knew and loved the tiny girl that made everyone fall in love with her. Dr Leslie, JoLinda Charles, all of her nurses, even Trixie attended. There on the alter was Daisy's rainbow-colored doggie toy with the crinkly ear.

 

 

Warner-Anderson Lumber Camp

Mt Warner, Oregon

 

And so the funeral arrangements were made. It was three days after Rachel and Finn went back to New York when a small gathering of people made their way up Mt. Warner. It was a long climb, and vehicles could only make it so far.

 

Burt rode a mule for the first time since he was a boy. He climbed on the back of Blaine's old mule, Claudius, and Carol rode Caesar. Kurt and Blaine rode horses borrowed from the camp, and the twins rode their ponies. Of all the people that had attended the memorial service, only JoLinda had asked to come to see Daisy's final resting place.

 

Blaine had arranged for the casket to be buried deep in the mountain soil and the headstone to be placed before they got there.

 

When they came to the solemn place on the dreary day, a slight misty rain had been falling all day and the road was slippery. The horses and mules were sure-footed and got them there just fine. Blaine had gone to see his father's grave when he'd come up with the people from the funeral home, so he didn't go down that path, but led the way to the site.

 

Burt dismounted his mule and walked with the others to the grave. Just as they got to the headstone, the sun broke through the clouds. Burt looked up to see her headstone:

 

Daisy Hummel

Our Little Angel

So Dear to Our Hearts

 

 

Burt turned to JoLinda.

“Hummel?”

“The judge signed the papers. She is your daughter, just as you and Carol wished,” she said, patting Burt's hand.

Tears trickled down Burt's face.

“Thank you, JoLinda. Thank you.”

 

 


It was several weeks before Burt returned to the hospital. Dr. Leslie had come to the house to speak to him, telling him nobody would think any the less of him if he wanted to retire from the Buddy Grandparent program. Burt asked for time to think. The doctor brought Burt the rainbow dog with the crinkly ear as a sort of keepsake of his daughter.

It only took a few days for the old mechanic to talk it over with Carol and decide to come back. He missed rocking the little babies and he thought to himself that Daisy wouldn't want him to quit. Carol had said that so many people had quit on Daisy ~ and Burt had been the one to save her. Another baby shouldn't be denied just because he had lost Daisy. Their daughter. She would always be in his heart.

~

 

Burt was ready for this. He had on his clean blue-and-brown checked flannel shirt, the new dark-wash Levi's Carol had bought for him, and a small picture of Daisy in his wallet to keep close to him. Kurt had called him that morning to wish him well. Carol had just kissed him goodbye and he was out the door to walk the several blocks to Little Sisters of Mercy Hospital and up to the Newborn Intensive Care Unit.

 

“Good Morning, Trixie,” he greeted the NICU ward administrator.

“Good morning, Burt. It's good to see you. Coffee later?” she offered.

“Sure thing,” he smiled before going into the changing room to get ready for his day.

 

He knocked on Dr Leslie's door and the man came to join Burt on his way to the room of the newest baby in need of a Buddy Grandparent.

“This is Leo and in the next incubator is his brother, Maddox. They were born last night. Both are preemies, as you can see. Their mama is in the maternity ward because she is ill, but we might see her in a few days,” the doctor explained. He went on to tell Burt the babies both needed to be touched and cuddled but inside the incubator for a day or so. Their daddy would be up later in the evening. Burt would be needed to fill the gap during the day.

 

He went about his day, first with one twin, then the other. In the early afternoon, after examining both twins, the doctor told Burt he could hold Leo outside the incubator. Maddox was still too frail.

It had been a long time since Burt had held a baby so tiny. Between them, the brothers only weighed five and a half pounds. He changed his gown and washed his hands. Sitting beside the incubator, Nan came and helped him take Leo out, being careful of all the wires and tubes connected to the tiny morsel of human flesh.

The baby looked like a doll, not like a baby at all. He didn't have fingernails or cartilage in his ears. He must have been really early. Burt held him close while Nan held the oxygen tube close so he could breathe.

“He's doing great this afternoon,” Nan said, a smile on her face. “Maddox isn't too far behind him, but he doesn't seem to want to perk up. I had him out of the incubator, but he was losing oxygen so he had to go back in. Maybe tomorrow,” she said.

Burt sat back in the rocker, holding the tiny baby close and started rocking. It made his back feel better to slowly rock so this job was perfect for him, he smiled to himself.

“Hey, Little One. How are you feeling? You are a handsome guy, you know,” he started on the things he said to babies, always upbeat. It wasn't until Dr Leslie happened to be there that Burt said to the baby, ”Hey you miss being with your brother? I bet its strange to be suddenly by yourself, huh, little man?”

“That might help,” Dr Leslie said, pausing and turning to look at Burt.

“What?”

“Putting them together. Leo is doing well, but not Maddox. Let's try it – it can't hurt,” the doctor said, taking Leo from Burt. He put the baby in next to his brother and in seconds they were clutching each other.

Burt and Dr Leslie watched as Maddox's oxygen level went up.

“You always hear about twins missing each other and a miracle happening if they find their twin,” the doctor said, “ but it doesn't always happen. I'm glad it did a bit of good in this case.” he smiled.

Burt smiled to himself. He knew it happened – it had happened to Katura and Jordan. They had been lost to each other for their first months and then Mrs Charles had gone against the rules and called Kurt and Blaine. The next thing was that the twins were reunited and miracles occurred. Burt grinned.

 

It wasn't until he left to walk home that Burt realized he hadn't thought of Daisy all day. Well, he'd thought of her, she was never far from his mind, but he hadn't been paralyzed by grief in the hospital the way he was afraid he might be. No, he'd been needed and that took his mind off of his grief. He might just make it after all.

~

 

In the next weeks, Burt held many new babies. Leo and Maddox got better, grew a lot, and were moved to the children's ward instead of the NICU. He had some babies for just a few days, some for more. While he was happy to hold each one and was very much needed for them, there was nobody special to bond to the way he had to Daisy. There were many much sicker than Daisy had been, many that had special needs. That wasn't what had drawn Burt to his adopted daughter. No, he couldn't define it, didn't understand what it was between them. Maybe, he thought, it was something to experience only once in a lifetime.

 

He really believed that. Until he came to work one day to find his last baby had been sent on to the children's ward because he was better and Burt was introduced to the newest baby that needed a Buddy.

One glance at the little almost-bald baby with the eyes that looked just like Kurt's and Burt knew he had found another kindred spirit. The baby knew, too. She opened her big blue-green eyes and stared at Burt, calming her crying as she was cuddled into her soft blanket and Burt started rocking and singing to her so softly.

“Oh, my God!” Dennis whispered from the hallway outside the room. “Burt got Mitzi to quit crying!”

“I told you he could do it,” Nan said in an I-told-you-so voice.

“Nobody could do that. She's been crying for three days,” Dennis said, his eyes big as he looked in the window of the baby's room.

“I know babies cry, and some babies in the NICU cry a lot, but it wasn't good for that baby and we can't give her any sedation because she's so sick. Now maybe she'll have a chance,” the doctor said.

“You might have met the best thing since modern medicine, Dr White,” Nan said to the new doctor on the floor. “Burt Hummel.”

~

 

Burt was happy to get out of bed each morning that he had a shift at the hospital. He still ached with arthritis, but he just took some Tylenol and got on with his day. Most days he walked the few blocks to the hospital. The weather was still good, even though it was October. The wind was chilly some days, the rains came as usual, but he had a cheerful heart and that made him warm, inside and out.

 

He had Mitzi to think about now. He'd asked Mrs Charles about her. He knew the little girl had no parents because that was why Mrs Charles was there. She visited Mitzi at least once a week, which was more than she visited any child except for Daisy.

“She's a special one,” Burt had said one day.

“They're all special,” Mrs Charles said, but Burt knew she had a place in her big heart for this one.

Mitzi had been born with an infection and a hole in her heart. Nobody wanted to take on that kind of responsibility on top of adoption costs, so Mitzi was a ward of the state. Burt had bonded with her from the first day and all the NICU nurses had seen the tiny baby light up when Burt came into the room, singing as always.

“How's my favorite girlfriend today?” he'd ask, looking over the notes on her and scooping the baby from her incubator to have her bottle in Burt's arms.

 

Burt had felt guilty for a while, letting another baby into his heart in the place Daisy had been. Well, like Carol had said to him – you didn't have to divide your heart into smaller and smaller pieces. God had made hearts to grow bigger and bigger as we loved more people. Mitzi had made his heart grow a lot.

~

 

“How's he doing, Carol? I have to tell you, Blaine and I are both worried. He looked ten years older after the funeral,” Kurt told his stepmother on the phone. He's begun to call her more often now that he wasn't coming down the mountain to the architecture office anymore.

“I was worried myself. He was just sitting in the den, holding her rainbow doggie and rubbing its crinkly ear. I was on the verge of sending him in for grief therapy. He'd gone back to work and seemed marginally better . . . but not a lot.

“Then Dr Leslie assigned a new baby to him. A little girl with a hole in her heart. He's really fallen for Mitzi. He looks forward to going in to hold her. Its almost as if he loves her like he loved Daisy. I just hope this little one gets better, you know?”

“I do, too, Carol. I really do.”

 

~

“Dad, what is the hurry? We just barely got into town . . .” Kurt said as Burt coaxed him and Blaine into the old truck to go to the NICU ward at the hospital.

“Nothing, I just thought you might want to see where I work. I got permission from Dr. Leslie to bring you today,” Burt said, turning down the familiar street.

“Okay,” Blaine said, looking at Kurt and raising his eyebrows.

They had seen a lot of babies over the past month. Lenore had given birth to a fine baby boy and the time spent with Rachel and Finn's Adele was so wonderful. More babies were – well, Kurt didn't know. He had been dreaming about babies when he saw how Blaine looked, cuddling Adele close to his body as she fell asleep. He'd seen a similar look in Blaine's eye as he rocked Puck's son last week.

 

After gowning up, the two followed Burt to see the babies he was caring for. The last one was a teeny girl, almost bald with tiny wisps of blonde hair. She woke up when she heard Burt come in the door of her room. Kurt and Blaine saw her open her big eyes to look up at Burt.

“Oh, my stars – her eyes are the same color as yours, Kurt!” Blaine exclaimed, his own eyes wide as he looked at her.

“Yes, they are. It was the first thing I noticed when I met her,” Burt smiled. “You can't hold her, its against regulations, but you can touch her hand and she'll hold your finger.”

Kurt smiled as the baby curled her fingers around Blaine's proffered digit. Blaine's warm eyes stared back at her and a soft smile curled from his lips. Kurt hadn't seen anything so precious since he'd first held Jordan. It put ideas in his head.

“Did you say she's a ward of the state?” Kurt asked, trying to be nonchalant.

“Yes. Mrs Charles comes to visit her every week. She plans to be here next week when Mitzi goes in to have her heart surgery,” Burt explained.

“JoLinda is a good woman,” Blaine said.

 

~

“Mrs. Charles, so good of you to see us,” Kurt said as they were ushered into her small, crowded office.

“Its JoLinda to you two,” she reminded him. “How are you? How are Katura and Jordan doing?”

“You just saw them a few weeks ago, at the funeral,” Kurt reminded her, fiddling with his tie. “But, they are just fine. The homeschooling is working well and they are hale and hearty in the mountain air I think.”

“Yes, your own utopia,” JoLinda smiled, recalling the beautiful home she had visited after Daisy's funeral.

“It was so kind of you to push through the adoption papers for Dad,” Kurt went on. “Adopting Daisy made all the difference to my father,” Kurt went on, although he'd already thanked her several times.

“Something tells me you aren't here to talk about Daisy,” she prompted.

“No. A few days ago Dad took us up to the NICU. He let us meet a baby and we cannot stop thinking about her,” Blaine started, then looked over at Kurt.

“Ah, Mitzi? I thought as much. What do you want to know?” JoLinda asked, hiding her real feelings behind her neutral mask. She and Burt had talked about Mitzi and she knew Burt thought the baby might be someone the Hummel-Anderson family might be interested in.

Both Kurt and Blaine nodded their heads and JoLinda smiled. She had a good feeling about this family, just like she did when she called them about Jordan.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Return to Glory – Chapter Eleven – Giving Thanks

 

So many things are possible just as long as you don't know they're impossible.

~Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth

 


 

Puck and Lenore's House

Philomath, Oregon

 

“Fold the paper in half,” Blaine told the children. His twins and Puck's two older kids all complied.

“Good, now open the paper and get your strings ready. Okay, dip them in the paint like this and curl the wet string on the paper. I'll come over one at a time and help you press down . . .” Blaine instructed, going first to Sarah and placing the big atlas on top of her folded paper and pressing down.

“Okay, Sarah, pull the string out, not too slow but smoothly.”

Kurt and Lenore watched as Sarah pulled the string from between the folded paper and Blaine lifted the heavy book.

“Oh! Look Mommy! It looks just like the calla lilies in Grandma Carol's garden!”

“Yes, it does, darling,” Lenore told her daughter. Kurt noticed again how much Sarah resembled her mother in spite of her dark hair. Sarah's hair was the same shade as her father's and Lenore's hair had remained platinum blonde all these years. His mind wandered to the baby Burt had shown him in the hospital with the blonde wisps of hair curling over her almost-bald head and the blue eyes that tried to follow Burt wherever he went in the room. He could tell that Mitzi might fill the void in his heart that Daisy had occupied.

“Daddy! Daddy! Why aren't you listening to me? Don't you like my lilies? They are your favorite color, purple!” Katie shouted.

Kurt shook his head and looked at his daughter. Blaine was looking at him, too, cocking his head to one side like a puppy. As cute as that was, Kurt knew Blaine was practically reading his mind, that he knew Kurt's mind was on Mitzi. He smiled at his husband and turned his attention to Katura.

“Yes, sweetie, I love your lilies. They will make a great picture for Thanksgiving,” Kurt told her and walked over to look closer, putting his hands on her shoulders as he looked at the lilies she had made.

Lenore turned to Puck to see if he noticed the strange goings-on. He did and gave his wife a shrug. Blaine and Kurt had this weird communication since they gotten together and Puck had given up trying to understand it long ago. They would tell him eventually if they thought he should know. He turned his focus back to the baby sleeping on his shoulder, rubbing his little back to bring on any burps waiting to escape.

“Can I hold Eddie now?” Katura asked.

“Is Eddie a family name?” Blaine asked.

Lenore rolled her eyes.

“No, he named my baby Eddie after Eddie Van Halen and his middle name, James? After James Hatfield of Metallica. He did it when I was drugged,” Lenore said.

Blaine giggled.

“Oh, come on, honey. You got to name both Sarah and Anthony,” Puck countered.

“Yes, Sarah Sophia...Sophia after your grandmother, and Anthony Noah – after your father and you!” Lenore said, smacking his butt before walking back to see Anthony's lily picture.

Puck laughed. He loved to rile up his wife.

“Katie, come sit down and I'll help you hold baby Eddie, okay darling?” Puck asked his friends' daughter. Katie didn't need coaxing. She came right over and sat down on Puck's sofa, her arms out to take the baby.

 

Kurt and Blaine exchanged looks again. They were waiting to hear from JoLinda Charles about the legal aspects of adopting the baby Burt was taking care of. He was probably sitting in the hospital right now, rocking Mitzi. He'd taken both Kurt and Blaine at different times to sit with Mitzi after her heart surgery. Blaine had offered to adopt her immediately and pay for the surgery, but JoLinda told him that, while that was a very unselfish offer, she could not get the papers to move that fast and they might have to wait until mid-December to hear word of whether they could do it. There were some aspects of Mitzi's case that needed to be worked out first.

Kurt had called a lawyer that his friend, Grace Church, has suggested. The man was a family law specialist. He told Kurt that it was very likely that the courts had to offer the baby to her family first and get them to sign off on giving up their parental rights. Because of recent legislation, grandparents could be involved with that, too. It would just take a while and he warned Kurt not to get his hopes up.

It had been on both of the men's minds and Blaine had a terrible nightmare one night that Mitzi had died during her surgery and they had buried her next to Daisy on the mountain. He was inconsolable for several hours and Kurt had finally called his father the next day to check on Mitzi – who had just that morning drank her bottle in Burt's arms.

Kurt was very thankful that Burt was looking after the baby they wanted as part of their family, but it just wasn't the same as having her in their arms.

They really hadn't told Katura and Jordan that they were trying to adopt Mitzi. It didn't seem fair to get their hopes up when it could all come tumbling down. They did know about Mitzi – that Grandpa Burt was taking care of her when he was at the hospital, just like he had many other babies. Burt kept a cork bulletin board in his room with pictures of all the babies he had taken care of and the twins were so proud of him.

 

“Daddy? Are you okay?” Jordan asked, bringing his picture to show. Leave it to Jordy, the sensitive one, to notice that there was something on Kurt's mind.

“I'm fine, my sweet boy. Oh, look at yours!” he cooed, taking the paper from Jordy's hand and laying it on the table to look over. Of all the children, Jordan had chosen a piece of black paper and dipped his string into white paint to make the lilies. It was beautiful. Jordan was the artist in the family, not that Katie wasn't artistic – she was very talented – but Katie was impatient and got interested in something new very quickly. Kurt joked that she had the attention span of a goldfish. Jordan thought long and hard before starting a project and stayed with it, sometimes starting over again and again until it was the way he wanted it.

“I think we're going to have a wonderfully decorated house for Thanksgiving,” Grandma Sophie said, coming into the dining room with a plate of German pastries for everyone. She smiled, thinking of when she'd taught Kurt, Blaine, and Puck, along with many other of their friends, how to make the lilies from a string pulled between sheets of paper. It all seemed such a long time ago.

 


 

 

So, we're not having Thanksgiving at your house?” Cooper said to his brother. He'd called Blaine to tell him that August had bagged a fine, big turkey for the day.

No, we have all been invited to share Thanksgiving with the Puckerman's – you included,” Blaine said, practically shouting because of the poor connection.

Okay, I'll let my better half know,” Cooper agreed. He and his husband were living in Kurt and Blaine's old house on Warner Mountain now. He could have built his own house, he had the money, but this one suited him just fine and it was going to waste just sitting empty. It was close enough to the logging camps where he and August worked, and it was nice and quiet on the mountain.

How's that girl working out – what's her name? Kitty?” Coop asked. It used to be he and August that looked after Blaine's livestock when they were down in Philomath and Coop couldn't say he missed it. He didn't mind doing his brother a favor, but it took him away from managing the logging and Mr Warner was getting too old to be on the mountain every day.

She's fine. I offered to find a way to bring her to Thanksgiving, but she's shy. Instead, I took her sister up to spend the week with her. I think they'll be fine. We left them a pantry full of food,” Blaine said, thinking of the shy girl that now lived in their guest room.

Good. Well, we'll be down early Thursday morning then. I'm looking forward to Grandma Sophie's cooking,” Coop said, glad to be a part of Blaine's holiday. He missed his brother and all the close times they'd had when they lived in the tiny cabin with their father.

 


 

“But we have to have cranberry sauce! It wouldn't be the same without it,” Jordan said, sad that there were no more cranberries to be had at the grocery store. Carol had even taken him to another store across town to try and find some.

“I'm sorry, sweetheart. Maybe we can make something else? My mother made a nice side dish with pineapple that our family had on Thanksgiving. Want to try that?”

“Sure, Grandma. Sounds good,” he said, but his smile didn't reach his eyes.

“Oh, Jordan – could you help me? I can't reach the bottom shelf on that big freezer in the basement,” Grandma Sophie asked.

“Of course, I'd be glad to help,” Jordan offered. He followed the old woman to the basement of the Puckerman house and over to the freezer. Grandma Sophie pointed to the bottom shelf and Jordan pulled out a bag of fresh frozen cranberries.

“Oh! Grandma! You knew I loved this the best, didn't you?” he crowed, hugging the bag close to his chest for a brief moment, then moving the icy cold thing away again.

“What's a Thanksgiving without cranberry sauce?” she said, smiling.

They had started up the stairs when bickering could be heard from the kitchen.

“Mama always put sausage in the cornbread stuffing . . . “

“It isn't stuffing without oysters! I bet the Pilgrims had oysters in their dressing . . . “

“As long as it has lots of sage, I mean tons of sage . . .”

“Do we have to put mushrooms in it? I don't like mushrooms . . . “

Grandma Sophie entered the room and cleared her throat. Everyone was quiet out of respect for the elderly woman.

“I think there is room for compromise and also room for two pans of dressing,” she said quietly.

A flood of requests came at her all at once until Burt stamped his foot and they all quieted down once again.

“Let's go at this in an orderly fashion. Here, Kurt – sit down here with a pad and pencil and write down each person's request, then you, Carol, and Miss Sophie can calculate the final product?” Burt suggested and there was a low murmur of everyone agreeing.

 

As it turned out, there was a dressing made of traditional breads, sausage, mushrooms, and heavy on the sage. The second one contained cornbread with the white bread along with jalapenos and hot sausage. There was a small third one planned that used the first recipe but with oysters instead of sausage. It seemed everyone was satisfied and the cooks didn't mind making all of the food.

Grandma Sophie took Jordan aside and helped him make the cranberry sauce. They boiled water and sugar together and put in the cranberries, waiting for them to pop.

“It isn't exactly like popping corn, but you can hear the skins when they pop open,” Jordy told Sarah and Anthony later.

When all of the skins popped, they added a little bit of raspberries and a spoonful of lemon juice and stirred it in. They poured it into mason jars, just like making jam. Jordan's smile reached from one side of his face to the other and he hugged Sophie tight before escorting her to a chair to rest.

 

Thursday came and everyone was busy, either in the kitchen or setting up the dining room for all the people gathered there.

Puck decided it was too crowded and took Jordan and Anthony out for a drive to get out of the way. He loved being a part of the bustle of the holiday, smelling the rich, savory food being cooked. He hadn't always had that in his house before he moved in with his grandmother.

Lenore, Sarah, and Katie had gone to Carol's house with her to bake the pies. There was no more room in Lenore's kitchen to bake the desserts.

 

At last the bounty was all done, just waiting to be eaten. The room was all decorated with fall leaves, a cornucopia of fall flowers and fruits on the table, construction paper place cards shaped like tiny turkeys, and two sets of fine family china to hold all of the feast. On the walls were the lily pictures the children had made.

 

As the family went towards the table to sit, Puck was heard to come in the back door with the young boys. Jordan and Anthony came in to sit down at the table, Jordan hugging his uncles Cooper and August who had just arrived.

“Puck, can you bring that chair at the back of the kitchen?” Burt called.

“I'll get it,” another voice, not Puck's, called back. Burt turned to look at the kitchen door just as Finn walked through followed by Rachel holding Adele.

“Do you have room for a few wandering strangers?” Finn asked, smiling at his mother and Burt.

Katie launched herself at her Uncle Finn and he caught her in his arms, hugging the girl. Hugs were given all around, more places set at the table and more chairs found to accommodate the surprise guests. Puck grinned to himself, happy his surprise went over so well. The twins were at the end of the table on the piano bench, but it didn't matter. They were all together.

 

The meal took a long time to eat, everything was served in waves and nobody had room for dessert, so it would be saved for later that night.

Just as they were settling down around the house to rest, watch football, or play games, the doorbell rang.

Lenore went to answer, then called Kurt and Blaine to the door.

“I don't want to disturb your family holiday, but I couldn't wait to tell you . . . “ JoLinda Charles stood at the door, a sweet smile on her face.

“I don't understand, how did you know we'd be here at our friend's house?” Blaine asked, then turned to see Burt standing there.

“Guilty,” he said, waving a hand, “I told her where we'd be today.”

“Dad?” Kurt asked, then grinned at his father. He turned back to Mrs Charles.

“I was in the office late last night and got a call from a friend of mine in the state Family Court office. Judge Finestein signed the final adoption papers for Mitzi. She is yours. Happy Thanksgiving.”

Kurt and Blaine rushed to hug JoLinda, kissing her cheeks until she blushed, then hugging each other and Burt. They invited her to come in and have Thanksgiving dessert with them and she accepted. They were making so much noise that the rest of the family started to gather at the front door to see what the noise was all about.

“We're daddies again!!” Blaine crowed, kissing Kurt before saying it again.

“You guys have a little sister!” Kurt told his twins and they jumped up and down squealing.

“When can we bring her home?” Jordan asked.

“We don't know yet. We'll have to talk to the doctors first,” Blaine explained. “But I think we need to go visit her.”

Kurt had his coat on, waiting for the kids to get ready. Blaine was already out starting the SUV.

“Dad? Are you coming?” Kurt asked.

“You want me there?”

“Of course. She knows you best and we don't want to scare her,” Kurt said, holding his father's coat for him.

 

~

It was all explained to the nurse in charge, which luckily happened to be Nan, and the Hummel-Andersons would be allowed to visit with Mitzi. Blaine went first with Katura. They sat quietly while Burt took the tiny baby from her incubator and sat her in Katie's hands. The new big sister was wearing a paper gown and had washed her hands.

“Oh, Tatay, she is so tiny!” Katie whispered.

“You don't have to whisper, sweetie. She can hear just fine and it won't scare her, She needs to get used to you, Katie-girl,” Burt told his granddaughter.

“Okay, Oh, she has such pretty blonde hair, kind of the color of Auntie Lenore's. Her eyes, they are the color of Daddy's, aren't they?”

“Yes, it was the first thing I noticed about her,” Blaine smiled. Burt smiled. It was the first thing he'd noticed, too.

Blaine held his new daughter, careful due to her recent heart surgery. This little scrap was going to steal all of their hearts, he was sure.

“Oh, Mitzi, we love you so much already,” he said to her, rubbing his cheek against her soft little cheek.

“Kurt, she is so . . . “ he told his husband when they went back out of the room.

“Yes, I know,” Kurt said, understanding exactly what Blaine had meant.

Kurt went in with Jordan and Burt placed the little baby in Jordy's arms, checking her monitors to be sure she was doing well. Nan was there, too, and smiled at the new family. She had a soft place in her heart for this one, as she often did, and was happy for Burt's family. Mitzi was a gift from God after the loss of Daisy, though she was not a replacement. Mitzi was a force unto herself, so strong in spirit in spite of her rough start and tiny stature. Nan got her bottle ready and handed it to Burt.

 

“Do you want to feed her?” he asked Kurt and moved the baby from her brother's arms into her new daddy's. She settled right down and began to eat, taking long draws on the bottle. It wasn't a lot at once, like most preemies, but she kept it up until the bottle was empty.

“What a good girl for Daddy,” Kurt cooed at her. “Does she burp like most babies or do I do something different because of the surgery?” Kurt asked. Burt came over and showed him how he usually laid her on her tummy along his arm and rubbed her back. She rewarded him with a loud belch.

“Eww!” said Jordan, wrinkling his nose.

“Good girl!” Praised Kurt, laughing at his son. “Babies have to burp after they eat or they get tummy aches.”

“I didn't burp like that, did I?” Jordan asked.

“Yep, you sure did. Louder even,” Kurt smiled back at his son, amusement twinkling in his eyes.

Jordan rolled his eyes just like his daddy and Burt laughed, too.

Burt took Jordan out to sit with Katie while Blaine and Kurt said goodbye to their new daughter.

“Isn't she the most beautiful baby...well, since Jordan and Katie anyway,” Blaine said, landing a soft little kiss on her head. He was cuddling her close, wishing he didn't have to wear this paper gown – but it was for her protection, so he didn't mind too much.

“I wonder if this comes in a better color...” Kurt kidded, looking down at his yellow paper gown. Blaine chuckled.

“Let's spend the next week here in the house and I can call Kitty tomorrow to be sure she's okay with that,” Blaine said. “We'll need to talk to Dr. Leslie and buy some baby things. Remember that mad scramble to get furniture and everything for Jordan?” Blaine laughed. He and Kurt had only a day to get ready for Jordan's coming and it was a mad race to get a crib and everything necessary to bring him home. August and Cooper had come to the rescue, buying most of the things and renting a truck to take it all up to Warner Mountain. It was hard to believe that was ten years ago.

“Yes, I think that's a good idea. The kids are fine with that, all of their friends are on Thanksgiving break so they can visit. We need to understand where Mitzi stands health-wise. I mean, she's still in NICU, so she isn't going home anytime soon. We'll have to be here in town more often until it is all resolved and she's okay to come home.

 

Blaine just leaned over and put a tender kiss on his husband's lips.

“It will all be fine, my darling. It will all fall into place,” he said and kissed Kurt again.

 

~

Back at Puck & Lenore's house...

 

“What did we do with Jordan's crib?” Kurt asked later that day. “Maybe . . .”

“Eddie is asleep in it,” Lenore told her friend, grinning. Blaine was such a scatter-brain.

“You gave it to Lenore for Anthony because Sarah was still in hers,” Kurt told his husband.

“We could buy a new one for Mitzi,” Lenore offered.

“No, no, of course not. I think it will be fun to buy her a new bedroom set. I guess the second guest room will be Mitzi's new bedroom,” Kurt said, smiling, his head full of ideas.

“And Kitty is in the other guest room. Our next guests will be on the settee in the great room,” Blaine laughed.

“I can share a bedroom with Mitzi,” Katie offered, looking at Jordan. He was a boy, so Mitzi wouldn't want to share a room with him, even if it was all decorated in undersea creatures and ocean waves. No, Mitzi would like the princess castle painted on her bedroom walls, both at Grandpa Burt's and at her room on Warner Mountain where Uncle Cooper and Uncle August now lived. She was suddenly scared they might paint over it. She'd need to call them and talk to them soon. She didn't want her magic room painted over before she took a ton of pictures first.

“My goodness, you look so full of thoughts,” Blaine asked, a teeny bit worried that Katie might be changing her mind about wanting Mitzi.

“Oh, I was just thinking about my room in the old house. Nothing important,” Katie said, her ever-present smile on her face.

Blaine knew it wasn't nothing. He'd wait her out, though. Katie couldn't keep anything secret for very long.

“Who wants to go shopping?” Kurt asked as he opened his laptop on the cleared dining room table. Blaine and the kids gathered around, first looking at the dozen pictures Kurt had taken of Mitzi and the twins holding her. Then it was on to furniture stores as they chose the perfect crib and furniture that would be good for Mitzi as she grew.

“Daddy, you need to paint her a wonderland!” Jordan told his dad. Kurt had painted Katie and Jordan both magical places in their rooms – Jordan's an undersea kingdom of fish, plants, and mythical sea creatures. For Katie's room he had painted a fairyland castle with meadows and forests and a dragon's lair in the corner. He'd have to come up with a new idea.

 

~

It was late when they all left Puck and Lenore's house. It was a big house, big enough for the family of three children and Puck's grandmother, and Kurt wondered how they all got along. Pretty well from what he saw. Then his mind went to other things, such as Mitzi and how her room should look, and then to Blaine and the look of wonder on his face when he held Mitzi and realized this child was now theirs. Kurt had the same soft, warm place in his heart for the tiny girl with the fighting spirit.

“Hey, Blaine, we can change her name if we want. All we need to do is inform the court before the papers are filed. What do you think?”

Blaine sat and thought for a while, but turned back to Kurt with a smile on his face.

“I like Mitzi if you do?”

“I agree. Mitzi Hummel-Anderson,” Kurt said, then added: Mitzi Moira Hummel-Anderson. After your mother, Blaine. Katura has my mother's name, Elizabeth. Mitzi should have your mother's.”

“Oh, Kurt. Thank you. Yes, I like that...Mitzi Moira.”

 

~~

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Return to Glory – Chapter Twelve – Christmas

 

You can't pick out the pieces you like and leave the rest.

Being part of the whole thing, that is the blessing.

~Natalie Babbit, Tuck Everlasting

 


 

 

Christmas Eve

Hummel-Anderson Homestead

Mt Russell, Oregon

 

“You and Katie can open these presents now if you want,” Blaine told the children.

“But it isn't Christmas yet . . . “ Jordy said, looking confused, sitting next to his sister on the settee after breakfast.

“It's okay, these are special presents,” Kurt told them.

The children looked at each other and grinned, taking the large boxes and opening them. Blaine noticed that the kids were true to their natures: Katie tore the paper as quickly as possible, tossing it aside to pick up later while she opened the box. Jordy pulled each piece of tape gently so he could save the paper, folding it neatly before opening the box.

“Skates!” Katie crowed, taking her new white figure skates out to slide on her foot and see what they would look like. Jordy was just as excited, but inspected every inch of his shiny black hockey skates before trying them on.

Kurt had argued against getting them different types of skates, but Blaine told him that Katie was more prone to dancing moves and spins while Jordy was more speed and angles. Kurt agreed and admitted he was bending over backwards to avoid any sexist behavior, but that they needed to focus on what the twins needed and not what the male/female aspects of each decision were.

“I thought we could go skating this morning – the pond is frozen solid,” Blaine said. He'd tested it early that morning to make sure.

“Oh! Let's go, Tatay!” shouted Katie, Jordan a shout behind her.

~

The way to the pond in the upper part of the meadow was covered with snow, but not slippery. The air was cold - the kind where it froze the inside of your nose when you took a breath, but Kurt and Blaine knew that once on the ice, they would warm up. Skating took effort and that would keep their bodies warm.

In addition, everyone was dressed in warm clothes. Long thermal underwear, wool sweaters, wind-proof snow jackets kept them nice and toasty along with warm knitted hats and nylon-covered ski gloves were part of the winter essentials. Kurt, of course, wore a scarf around his neck and he'd talked the rest of them into wearing them to keep their necks warm.

On the pond, everyone in their skates, Kurt held Jordan's hand and Blaine held Katie's. They went around the pond, skating slowly, then faster. Blaine let go of his daughter's hand and skated towards Kurt, who let go of Jordy and took Blaine's hand. They skated together, hand in hand.

“Sing, Tatay! Sing, Daddy!” the kids shouted. They knew their fathers loved to sing Christmas carols when they went skating. Kurt laughed and whispered in Blaine's ear, then broke into song:

 

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the treetops glisten
And children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow

 

 

The two men skated together, then danced around each other as they sang the next verse. Katie and Jordan stood together, holding hands as they watched and listened to their fathers put on the show. The best part was how much love was evident between the two. They were so happy and it affected the twins in the most positive way. Blaine took Kurt in his arms at the end of the song, kissing him passionately for a full minute before they remembered where they were and looked over at the children. Katie and Jordy were pretending not to notice, but both had smirks on their faces as they skated around the pond.

 

After several more songs – some of which the kids joined in the singing – they were ready for something else.

Just as they were discussing whether they could play some type of hockey, Kitty and her sister came, skates in hand.

“Kitty! Georgia! Come join us!” Kurt called. Blaine had invited the employee and her sister to come skating before breakfast that morning.

“Okay, but you have to keep up!” Kitty said, giggling. She was getting over her shyness with the family and it was good to see. Her leg had healed long ago but the husbands liked having her there to look after the livestock and she liked it better than working with the rough lumberjacks.

Once on the ice, Kitty was as good as her word and she and her sister skated circles around Blaine and Kurt. The kids laughed, encouraging the sisters to skate faster.

“Let's play a game,” Georgia asked, her brown hair flying out behind her as she slowed down to spin in a tight circle. “Ever play Crack the Whip?”

“Not on skates . . . “ Kurt said.

“Okay, I'll be the center and then Jordy, Blaine, Kitty, Katie, and Kurt?”

They arranged themselves in that order and began skating in the line, holding hands while Georgia skated all over the pond, spinning them faster and faster. It wasn't too long before the skaters at the end were being “thrown” from the whip.

They ended up all on the ice, laughing.

“Let's go back to the house and warm up with some hot chocolate?” Kurt suggested.

 

 


 

 

“Tatay? Can we make some kind of decorations, like the lilies we made for Thanksgiving?” Katie asked her father. They were sitting in the dining room, having finished their lunch of beef vegetable soup they'd made last night. Katie had made garlic toast to go with it.

“Sure, darling. Did you have anything in mind?” Kurt answered with a question.

“No. But we can think something up?”

“I know something . . . “ Blaine offered, opening the cupboard of arts and crafts supplies. He took out black construction paper, glue sticks, and a box of tissue paper scraps.

“Okay, you draw a pattern on the black paper – like a candle or holly, something to do with the holiday. Each piece is apart from the others, like a stencil, because we're going to cut them out.

The kids got busy drawing and so did Kurt and Blaine. When they were done they cut out the parts they drew. Kurt made holly, Katura made a poinsettia, Jordan an abstract design and Blaine a star in the sky with littler stars around it in a specific pattern.

“Okay, now you glue different colored paper to the back, over the parts you cut out. Then when you hold it up to the light, it looks like a stained glass window,” he explained to the children.

It was very quiet, everyone busy gluing the tissue paper to their 'windows'.

“Oh, these turned out so beautifully!” Kurt said, admiring the designs. They had taped them up in the windows to let the sunlight shine through and they did look like stained-glass windows.

Kurt got a warm smile when he saw Blaine's – of course, it was the Belt of Orion constellation. “I love you, baby,” he whispered into his husband's ear, taking him in his arms.

“I have one more surprise, if you are all game to go outside on this cold night,” Kurt said, winking at Blaine.

“Sure, Daddy. We'll come out with you,” Jordan offered, pulling a stocking hat over his glossy black hair and getting his coat from the rack. Katie followed suit.

Once they were all outside, Blaine went down to the creek and came back with several large chunks of ice in a burlap bag. He took an axe and hit the bag, breaking the ice up into small shards.

Kurt took a very large metal bowl and added the ice shards along with some rock salt. He put another large metal bowl inside, nestling it down into the ice. He then added cream, milk, sugar, eggs, a spoonful of vanilla and a pinch of salt.

“Okay, here's the work involved: You take this big metal spoon and stir the milk mixture. It will take a while, but keep stirring,” Kurt told the kids and they began stirring. Blaine kept adding ice chips and salt to the outside bowl while the rest of the family stirred. After a while the cream and milk mixture began to grow crystals around the outside of the smaller bowl, which got whisked away to mix in the rest of the concoction. It was finally all frozen and the kids grinned.

“Ice cream!” Jordy said, he was so excited to try this new way of making his favorite treat.

They took it in and shared with Kitty and Georgia, eating the icy treat in front of the fireplace.

“This was a good Christmas Eve, Tatay and Daddy,” Katura said, leaning back in the settee.

“This was better than being in the city, I think,” Jordan added.

“I loved being with the family,” Kurt said, hugging his children close.

“Better get to bed so Santa can come,” Blaine said, smiling at the kids.

They went up to bed, falling asleep quickly. Kitty and her sister went to their room on the main floor.

 

“Shall we go up to bed?” Kurt asked, coming close to take Blaine in his arms once more.

“Yes, I'd like that,” Blaine said, kissing Kurt thoroughly.

 

 


 

“Shall we lay in the hammock?” Kurt kidded.

“Kurt! Its covered in snow for one thing, and it must be freezing out there with the wind blowing!” Blaine freaked. Kurt laughed.

Kurt sat next to him on the bed.

“Take off my shirt?” he asked, waiting for his husband to unbutton it. Blaine smiled and undid one button at a time, kissing the soft skin he found. “And my jeans too?”

“What is this? An interactive strip tease?” Blaine laughed, but he continued undressing Kurt.

“Then let's get naked and under all these covers.” Kurt said, getting under the blankets as Blaine continued.

“Yes, that does sound nice,” Blaine agreed, taking off his clothes and folding them neatly. His first impulse was to throw them all where they landed – but he knew he'd just have to pick them up later when he was tired. So, folding it was. He set them on the chest of drawers next to Kurt's.

 

The room was still a bit chilly and Blaine got under the covers, burrowing quickly into his husband's side.

“Mmmm, you're warm,” he cooed, snuggling closer. “Like when we shared the cabin in those first days. I'd use the bed warmer and then snuggle next to you all night. I miss being all alone with you - like it was back then, sometimes, although I'd never change my life now for anything.”

“Me, either. I do love to think about those first days. We were so young. Katie and Jordy are almost that age – just a few more years. Its hard to conceive of that, isn't it?” Kurt mused.

“Wow. Yes, it is. I'm going to keep them up here on the mountain forever! No boyfriends or girlfriends!” Blaine teased.

“But how about being alone on this mountain? Just you and me?” Kurt asked, kissing Blaine until they had to break apart and take a breath. “They will grow up, sweetheart, you know they will.”

“Yes, and I hope by the time they're that age – maybe when they're 30? - that they find a love and a passion like we did. I cannot imagine a better life,” Blaine laughed.

“Me, either. Besides, when Katie and Jordan are gone off to college we'll still have Mitzi for another decade. There is that,” Kurt added.

“Yes. I cannot imagine it now, we haven't even gotten her home yet,” Blaine sighed. “I was glad she was moved out of the NICU, but Dr. Leslie and her cardiologist . . .?”

“Dr. Radetsky.”

“Yeah, Dr. Radetsky. They haven't given us a time frame for when we can bring her home. It's hard to keep going down to visit her, I'm so glad Burt goes to hold her every day,” Blaine said, a relieved look on his face.

“They are worried about the altitude, I think. But you know Dad is looking out for her when we aren't there, baby. You still have to do your job for the company. I know you could sell it and we'd never have to worry a minute about money – but its in your family, its in your blood. I think we should stay, don't you?” Kurt said.

“Yeah, it is in my blood. You don't mind, do you?” Blaine asked, leaning forward to kiss him on the lips. Kurt moved to meet him in the middle and they slid under the blankets into their warm nest.

“I want to stay here on this mountain with you forever,” Kurt whispered and Blaine sighed a happy sigh.

“Me, too.”

In the nest of blankets, Blaine slid down further, his hands sliding along Kurt's chest and down his thighs.

“Mmmm” he sighed again, appreciating his husband's lithe body that had stayed in top condition in spite of being fifteen years older than when they met. He kissed down his stomach, along the slight line of hair that led to his cock. Kurt kept himself neatly trimmed and Blaine was very appreciative. He rubbed his nose along the crease between leg and pelvis and gave a tiny lick up the soft skin of his balls and up the vein that led to the crown, which he placed his lips around and licked the head. This was hot, arousing and he loved the feel of Kurt's cock between his lips.

“Oh, Blaine, yes...” Kurt moaned, stretching his legs out, stretching his arms above his head. His muscles needed oxygen and he did it without conscious thought.

When Blaine stopped to take a breath, Kurt curled closer to him, his hands finding his lover's chest and Kurt rubbed his nipples, knowing how sensitive his husband was. He rested his hand on the back of Blaine's head as his lover went back down on him. Kurt played with the curls for a moment before his focus was all on one spot: where Blaine's mouth was working him so well.

“Mmmmm,” Blaine hummed, exciting Kurt all the more.

“Oh, yes...oh, your mouth . . . please, baby...” Kurt murmured.

Blaine swirled his tongue and fluttered it in just the right place. He knew Kurt very well. It didn't take long after that, Blaine stroked his cock with his tongue, sucked on the tip and moaned loudly when Kurt came in hot spurts of salty liquid. Blaine swallowed and swallowed.

After, he pushed himself up on his elbows, and licked his lips which were tingling from all the friction.

He looked down at his husband: flushed and breathless from the exertion. Kurt had that blissed-out expression that made Blaine swoon. He laid down next to Kurt, holding him close and kissing into his hair.

“I love you, baby, and I always will,” he whispered, then kissed Kurt again.

Kurt thought about why he was still so turned on by Blaine after all these years. His husband still had that enthusiasm – as if he was loving Kurt for the very first time, every damn time. It was intoxicating.

“Come here, my love,” Kurt coaxed, pushing Blaine down to lie in the middle of the big bed. He lay next to Blaine, kissing his jaw and down to his neck, letting each kiss linger before he moved to the next spot. He worked his way down, brushing his lips over Blaine's collarbone and little licks down his chest to flutter his tongue over his nipples.

“Kurt . . . “ he muttered, eyes closed and hands fisted in the sheet.

Kurt laughed, the warm rush of air over Blaine's sensitive skin making him break out in gooseflesh. Kurt nuzzled into the hair on his chest and made his way, kiss by kiss, down to his belly. For some reason, Blaine was extremely aroused tonight, he was anticipating each touch, each kiss and was so wrapped up in it that he almost forgot it was leading to having his cock down Kurt's throat.

Kurt pressed his teeth into that sexy hipbone that he had spent fifteen years gnawing on, he loved how Blaine's body was configured. He had deep grooves where the muscles made his hip and went down to his leg. Blaine was fit – extremely fit. He hiked up and down mountains all day, climbing trees, lifting heavy equipment, just working hard and his muscles showed it.

Kurt was close to his husband's cock, so close that his body heat radiated onto the skin and Blaine could hardly lie still. Kurt had to lay a restraining arm across his hips to keep him still.

“Kurt, please – I can't wait, not this time,” Blaine begged, so hot to have Kurt's lips on him, his sexy, warm, wet mouth...he could not wait and put a hand on Kurt's head to gently guide him. Kurt complied and slipped his eager mouth over the end of Blaine's thick cock.

“Oh, baby, that is so good,” Blaine sighed, feeling the heat as it swirled inside his body, grateful for Kurt's amazing mouth. The sensations were unbelievable. Kurt did something with his mouth and tongue that amounted to sorcery and Blaine closed his eyes and cried out, coming hard over his husband's waiting tongue.

“Oh, yes, Kurt, yes, I love you, yes!” he shouted out a bit too loud and Kurt put a quick hand across his mouth. Blaine's eyes opened and he looked at Kurt.

“Not so loud, baby, everyone is in bed but you know how sound can carry,” he whispered, kissing Blaine's mouth. Kurt looked drunk, which made Blaine giggle, which led to a tickle fight and finally to an exhausted pair lying back in the bed, nestled in their nest under the covers.

“Merry Christmas, sweetheart,” Blaine whispered.

“Merry Christmas to you, my love.”

 

 


Christmas Morning

Hummel-Anderson Homestead

Mt Russell, Oregon

 

“Dad isn't answering. Maybe the phone lines are down in Philomath?” Kurt said, dialing again. “It has snowed every day for five days.”

“I know its early, but we need to get the Navigator packed if we're going down to Philomath,” Blaine said, glancing at the kids working on getting breakfast in the kitchen.

There was the sound of barking dogs and Blaine walked out to the porch to see why Lucy and Scout were upset. Even Claudius and Caesar were braying from their corral in the meadow.

“Oh! Kurt, its your dad! I guess they decided to come up here?” Blaine called from the porch. Kurt rushed out in time to see his dad park Puck's van.

Rachel got out first, a bundle in her arms. Kurt rushed out to take her arm.

“We can't have you fall with little Adele in your arms,” he said as he escorted her inside. He didn't see Finn walk in with another bundle, then Carol and Burt with more packages. They even loaded Blaine down with an armful of presents.

“Merry Christmas!” called Burt as he walked in the house, wearing a Santa hat. The kids came from the kitchen, grinning from ear to ear.

“Hurry, Katura, let's mix up more pancake batter, I'll put more bacon and sausages on to cook,” Jordy suggested.

Katie rushed behind her brother back into the pantry behind the kitchen to see what else they could cook. Maybe Tatay wouldn't mind of she opened a jar of the chokecherry syrup they made this summer.

“I'll go help them,” offered Carol, setting her gifts under the tree in the adjoining great room. Burt set his down, too, and Kurt went to relieve Rachel of her burden so she could remove her coat. Rachel smiled at him and handed over the baby.

Kurt took the bundle and gave Rachel a funny look.

“Adele's lost weight – is she okay?” Kurt asked, looking worried.

“We better check her,” Rachel said, smiling at her brother-in-law. Carol stepped in from behind the island in the kitchen, guiding Blaine in before her with her hands on his shoulders. Burt turned to look and Finn stood behind Burt.

Kurt sat down and pulled the blanket from around the baby.

“Oh...my..stars...in ...heaven,” he stuttered, looking up and finding Blaine's eyes. He smiled at his husband and tears started running down his face.

“Its her. . . its Mitzi,” he whispered as he took the heavy bunting off of his new daughter and held her close. Mitzi opened her big eyes and cooed at her daddy. Blaine was suddenly beside him, arms around him and Mitzi.

“Oh, it is – but how?” Blaine asked, shaking his curly head at the wonder of it. They didn't expect to have Mitzi home until after the new year.

“Her doctors came to see her yesterday when I was holding her,” Burt told them. “They said she could come home. I have her oxygen tank in the back of the van in case she needs it. I have the Pulse-Ox here to test her, you remember how to use it?” Burt asked.

“Yes, of course,” Blaine answered. Kurt was too overcome with holding her to answer.

“Anyway, they released her and knew our relationship, of course, so they let me take her. She spent last night at our house,” Burt said.

 

“Tatay? What's going on? Can I hold Adele?” Katie said as she came in from the pantry with Jordan. She walked towards her fathers, a sweet smile on her face. She loved her cousin.

“But...isn't Uncle Finn holding Adele?” Jordan asked, seeing his uncle taking Adele out of her bunting. Katie stared at her cousin for a moment, then ran to her fathers.

“Its Mitzi! Santa brought Mitzi!” Katura shouted, kneeling down to see the baby in Kurt's arms.

“Of course you can hold her, honey. Come sit beside me,” Kurt directed his daughter, putting the baby in her arms when she was ready.

Jordan came over to sit down beside them and Finn gave him Adele.

“I have to get a picture, wait a sec . . . “ Blaine said, getting his camera. He'd had it out yesterday to take photos of the ice skating party.

“Okay, say Merry Christmas,” he joked. They took pictures of the kids, then arranged everyone to take a picture of the whole family.

 

Mitzi let the whole house know she was hungry and Burt walked to the kitchen with his son. He'd brought filtered water for the formula, just as the twins had when they were infants. The deep well provided clean water, but the slight chance of some contaminate, like giardia, made them extra cautious. Mitzi had enough health issues to deal with in her young life.

Blaine held her, cuddling her close in her lavender fuzzy blanket, and fed her the bottle. She made cute little noises and looked around with big eyes. After she finished, she fell asleep.

“I'll take her up to her bed. Want to come with me?” Blaine asked his husband.

“Yes, of course,” Kurt smiled.

They went up to the bedroom they had been fixing up for over a month. Kurt had painted a wonderland of animals from around the world. One wall was a jungle from South America, one the plains of Africa, then the Outback of Australia and finally the long outside wall was their very own mountain with flying squirrels, dwarf bunnies, eagles, bears, foxes, lynx, and many more animals hiding in the forest.

“I have it all ready for her,” Kurt smiled as Blaine placed her in the crib and pulled the blanket up.

“She looks so small in there,” Blaine said, not wanting to go back downstairs. He wanted to hold this tiny girl all day long, but both of her fathers knew Mitzi needed rest more than anything right now.

“Its a bit chilly in here,” Kurt noticed.

“I turned the heat up in this room,” Blaine smiled, getting another blanket out of the closet to place on Mitzi. Kurt had designed each room with its own thermostat, so it would soon be warm.

They stayed by her crib, just watching her sleep until they heard from the stairway a call that breakfast was on the table.

“Let's go eat. I think I need some pancakes and chokecherry syrup. How about you?” Blaine said, taking Kurt's hand.

“Me, too, baby. Let's go celebrate Christmas!”


 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Return to Glory – Chapter Thirteen – New Year, New York

 

“Don’t you know that everybody’s got a Fairyland of their own?”
~P.L. Travers, Mary Poppins


January

Above JFK Airport

New York City

 

“Will Mitzi miss us?” asked Jordan as they sat in the airplane, circling the airport for the eighth or ninth time.

“Of course she will, honey, but she's so happy to be with her Grandpa Burt and Grandma Carol. I think she'll be okay for two weeks,” Kurt assured his son.

“Hey, there's the Statue of Liberty again. Before today, I didn't know it was on an island,” Katura observed from her seat by the window. The twins had window seats, though Blaine and Kurt were eagerly leaning over their shoulders to see New York for the first time.

The twins were dressed in matching outfits – trousers of gray tweed with flecks of red and white shirts with cute gray waistcoats and bright red ties. Katie insisted that if they had to wear matching outfits, that hers would be trousers just like Jordan's or not at all. She said winter in New York and a skirt would not due. Both Kurt and Blaine loved their twins in matching clothes but didn't insist on it as they were so different in personality. They suspected that Katura and Jordan actually liked dressing alike from time to time, so they had these on today.

“You know, I wanted to go to school here once upon a time,” Kurt said, gasping as he saw the view of New York Harbor. “I wanted to be on Broadway, just like your Aunt Rachel.”

“But I came along and ruined all of your dreams,” Blaine said, his voice sounding guilty and sad.

“No, baby, you became my dream. My only dream,” he told his husband with heart-eyes. He blew a kiss because they were in different rows of the plane and the seatbelt light was on.

“When are we going to land?” Katura asked, taking her Tatay's hand and squeezing.

“Soon, honey. It is always busy at airports in New York and we have to wait our turn,” Blaine explained.

“I wish this guy would hurry!” Katie said, meaning the pilot.

Just as she uttered her wish, the speakers came on.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, please remain in your seats, we are approaching the runway,” the pilot announced and the vibe of relief could be felt all over the plane.

 

XXXXX

 

“Oh! Kurt, Blaine! Over here!” shouted Finn, waving at the small family.

“Uncle Finn!” both children shouted. Katura ran, her red-gold hair flying out behind her as she tried to reach her uncle first. Jordan was barely a step behind her, but Finn was big enough for both of them to hug.

“Careful now, you can't just leave your luggage sitting alone, it might not be there when you go back to it,” Finn warned, winking at the kids. He helped them all load the suitcases into his truck, then they piled in for the trip to the apartment.

 

~

Berry-Hudson Apartment

Manhattan, New York City

 

 

“Auntie Rachel!” they shouted, hugging her. “Where's Adele?”

“Adele is sleeping right now, resting up for having her cousins here to play with,” Rachel said, smiling at her niece and nephew. She ran her fingers through Jordan's shiny hair, admiring how beautiful it was.

“Do you have a game we could play?” Jordan asked, knowing they would all love to engage in some sort of ice-breaker.

“You mean a board game? We have...ah...” Rachel said, distracted by her search through the bottom shelf under her cupboard. “. . . Oh! Here they are. Okay: Scrabble, Monopoly, Life, Cards Against Humani....oops, that's an adult game. Here, I have dominoes?”

“Yes! We love dominoes,” Katura grinned, taking the box from her aunt and setting it on the table.

 

Finn walked down the long hallway to the guest room with some suitcases. His brother and brother-in-law followed.

“How was your flight?”

“The airport was crowded with new year traffic, but the flight was good. No really bad turbulence and the kids were thrilled with their first airplane ride,” Blaine said.

“It was fun seeing them trying to figure out which big cities we were flying over,” Kurt grinned. He'd had fun at it, too.

“I still spend most of my time on flights looking out the window,” Finn grinned. “Rachel never looks out the window. She reads or tries to sleep. She hates flying.”

“I didn't know that,” Blaine said.

“She is kinda scared of being too high up in the air, but she copes with it pretty well. We don't fly so often since her two dads moved to New York,” Finn disclosed.

“Just to be near Rachel?” Blaine asked.

“That would be crazy,” Kurt smirked, “To let go of your whole life just to move near to your grown child?”

“How is Burt?” Finn asked, laughing at Kurt's kidding.

Blaine and Kurt joined in, walking back into the dining room where the children had set up the double-nine dominoes for a game.

 

After their heated battle, in which Jordan won a game, then Rachel won a game, they sat in the living room. Finn and Rachel's apartment was big for New York.

“What is on the agenda for tomorrow? How shall we conquer New York?” asked Kurt when everyone was assembled.

“I think we have a nice surprise for you,” Rachel grinned.

“What?” the kids asked.

“Well, it wouldn't be a surprise if I told you, would it?” she laughed.

“What about later in the week then?” Blaine asked. Rachel had begged to be the one to set the schedule for the vacation, which her brothers-in-law agreed to as long as she kept in mind that the kids needed to take things at a slower pace.

“Tomorrow is just lunch out and then supper at home, just so you can get over any jet lag. Wednesday will be the New York Library and maybe a museum if you're up to that, then . . . a Broadway Show!!”

Kurt gasped. He hadn't dared hope they could get tickets and said so.

“How many years have I worked on Broadway? Of course I got tickets. Would you kids like Aladdin, The Lion King, or Frozen?” Rachel asked.

“Aladdin!” they both cried.

“Good, I picked the right one!” Rachel sighed with relief.

The kids grinned and gave her a hug.

“But your fathers are going to see a different show,” Finn smiled.

“What show?” Blaine asked.

“Moulin Rouge,” Finn said, waiting to see if that surprise went over well.

“Both men's eyes lit up and they looked at each other. It was a well-known fact in the family that Moulin Rouge was their favorite movie.

“I didn't even know it was playing on Broadway,” Blaine said, taking Kurt into his arms. Kurt hugged him back.

“It's been in all the magazines,” he started to say, then realized that Blaine hardly ever had time for reading magazines anymore.

“Wow, all that – in two days!” Kurt said, feeling a smidgen overwhelmed.

“Well, then we have a day at home, just lounging around – maybe a walk in Central Park? We'll see how it goes,” Rachel said, smiling at them. She was so glad to have her best friend and his family here with her.

 

“I ordered take-out for dinner. Well, sort-of,” Rachel laughed.

“How can you order 'sort of' take out?” Kurt asked, confused.

“It should be arriving any minute....”

The bell rang and Finn went to get it.

The husbands were sitting on the sofa, the kids on the floor playing some sort of card game. From the hallway came loud voices.

“Where are they?” came a shout as two women entered the apartment. Suddenly Kurt's lap was filled with one woman and Blaine's the other.

“Oh, my stars – Santana!” Kurt yelled, hugging the enthusiastic woman on his lap. Blaine was hugging Brittany just as hard.

“I didn't know you two were in New York!” Blaine said, grinning as he hugged her again.

“Yes, Santana is recording another album and I opened a dance studio. I got tired of Broadway and all the constant try-outs and auditions. I like teaching little girls and boys how to move their bodies, how to have fun with dancing,” Brittany said, smiling. She got up and sat on the other sofa, patting it so Santana would join her.

“Yeah, New York is a blast – but all that competition for shows was just too much after ten years of it. I encouraged Brit to open her own studio after she tore a hamstring on stage two years ago,” Santana said.

“You used to be a Rockette, didn't you?” Blaine asked.

“Yes, for five years. It was the most fun, but I love what I'm doing now,” Brit said.

“Oh, where are my manners? Katie, Jordy – these are our friends Santana and Brittany. We went to high school with them,” Kurt said, “These are two of our three children, Katura and Jordan.”

“We are so glad to meet you,” Jordan said, getting up to shake their hands, followed by his sister.

“Where is your third child?” Brit asked.

“She's at home with my dad and Carol. Mitzi had heart surgery last month and her doctor didn't advise traveling,” Kurt told them.

“You must miss her. How old is she?” Santana asked.

“Four months. She is still so tiny. I have some pictures if you want to see them,” Blaine said, taking out his cell and showing the pictures to the women.

“Oh! She is darling,” Santana gushed. Kurt stared at her. Ten years had certainly changed her.

The doorbell rang again and Finn went to get it. He returned with Artie, Tina, and Mike.

Everyone hugged and dinner was filled with catching up. It had been almost fifteen years since they had all seen each other.

 

The night ended late, the twins fast asleep in the study where they had had sleeping bags on the floor. Blaine and Kurt slept in the guest room.

“It was nice to see so many people from high school, wasn't it?” Blaine asked.

“Yeah, it was. I was thrilled to see them. I kinda miss some of our friends,” Kurt said.

“We saw Mercedes and Sam just about a year ago. Living on the West Coast, its easier to keep in contact with them since they're in LA,” Blaine offered. He was worried that Kurt missed being in better contact with their old friends.

“Yeah, it was good to see them. Before I went to find you, Mercedes was my favorite person,” Kurt smiled.

“She missed you, I know. But are you glad you found me?” Blaine asked.

Kurt pushed his shoulder.

“I suppose . . . “ he drawled, then laughed at Blaine's hurt look.

“Okay, okay.”

 

“I miss Mitzi. Do you think it's too late to call and check on her?” Blaine asked.

“No, it's eleven here, so its only eight in Oregon. Let's call!”

 

RING

“Hello?”

“Dad! How are you?” Kurt asked.

Burt laughed.

“You called to check on Mitzi, didn't you?”

“Yes. We wanted to talk to you, too, of course. How are you?” Kurt asked politely.

“Just the same as I was when I saw you this morning,” he laughed.

Blaine pressed the speaker button so they could both hear.

“How is our baby girl?” Blaine asked.

“She's fine, but she misses her daddies,” Burt said, putting his cell on video so they could see that Mitzi was laying in his arms drinking her bottle.

“Oh, sweetheart!” Blaine cooed.

“Baby girl,” Kurt said.

“She's been fine. We walked in the park with Grandma Carol this afternoon, then took a long nap and now we're having a late supper,” Burt laughed. “How is everyone there?”

“Rachel surprised us with a bunch of people from high school. Santana, Brittany, Artie, Tina, and Mike. I had no idea they all lived in New York!”

“Oh, that was nice. Is Santana still wild?” Burt asked, remembering a certain Valentine party that didn't end well.

“No, she seems – I don't know, calmer? She's with Brittany so maybe it was her good influence over Santana that tamed her,” Blaine said, smiling.

“I always did like that goofy girl. She was a strange one, but she had a heart of gold. Well, this girl needs to have her britches changed and she's done with her bottle. Call tomorrow if you want. Mitzi is staying with her grandma most of the day tomorrow since I have a shift at the hospital – three preemies this week. Busy time. Okay, say goodbye.”

“Good night, sweetie pie,” Blaine said, his eyes never leaving the screen.

“Sweet dreams. Watch over Grandpa for me,” Kurt kidded, smiling when he heard his dad chuckle.

“Bye, sons.”

 

 


The next night...

 

The taxi stopped on the corner of West 45th and Eighth Avenue. The night on Broadway opened the eyes of all the Anderson-Hummels. Kurt had dreamed of being a performer on Broadway most of his early teens, so going to see Moulin Rouge was extra exciting. He held Blaine's hand very tightly as he walked down the aisle at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre to the front row. They had perfect seats and held hands throughout the whole show.

“Oh, no...” Kurt sobbed at the sad part.

“Sweetheart, you know the story, you knew this was going to happen,” Blaine whispered to his husband.

“I know, but every time I think it might end differently for some reason,” Kurt said, laying his head on Blaine's shoulder.

After the show – after Kurt insisted on shouting out for an encore – they were the last ones to walk out of the theatre, going to the stage door to thank the performers.

“Are you okay, Kurt?” Blaine asked, holding his husband's waist tightly.

“Yes. I just...well, it is different seeing it live like that, isn't it? Its like you suddenly know that person, not like you're watching a film. I had no idea . . . “ Kurt said.

“You'll be okay. I can see we need to get out more often. Being on the mountain is idyllic, but we need to inject more culture into our lives, and the children's lives. Did we do the right thing to move to the mountain? I wonder if being away from so much of society is maybe the wrong thing to do to the kids. Oh, Kurt – what if we were wrong?” Blaine rambled on until the star of the show, Karen Olivo came out to wave at the fans.

Kurt took his Playbill and walked right up to the fence. She smiled at him and kissed his cheek before signing the paper.

“Oh, Blaine!” he said, but seemed to still be star-struck. Blaine had to hurry him along to walk over to the next block to meet Rachel, Finn, and the kids for dinner.

 

“We're a bit early – let's duck into that coffee shop, my hands are so cold,” Blaine said, nodding at the small shop with a sign “St Kilda's Coffee” above the door. They sat in a warm corner and talked about the show and the kids until it was time to meet their family at Gyu-Kaku Japanese Barbecue.

They had just been seated when Katura and Jordan came rushing over to the table.

“Daddy! Tatay!” the shouted, jumping up and down.

“Oh, it was magical,” Katie said, crawling into her daddy's lap. Jordan sat in the chair next to Blaine and put his arms around him.

They chattered on for a few minutes until Kurt began to scan the restaurant for Rachel and Finn. He spotted them next to the door, talking to three people before they finally led the way to their table.

“Blaine, Kurt, I hope you don't mind, but I invited a few friends to join us for supper. This is Adam Jacobs, who plays Aladdin in the show the kids just saw, and Courtney Reed, who plays Jasmine. I'm guessing you don't need any formal introduction to Karen Olivo, who plays Satine in Moulin Rouge?” Rachel introduced her friends, “These are my brothers-in-law, Kurt and Blaine Anderson-Hummel and their children, Katura and Jordan.”

When everyone had shaken hands, they all sat down to order their supper, which was cooked table-side at a small grill.

Kurt practically swooned to meet Karen.

“Oh, honey, I know. I've been on Broadway for years – but meeting a favorite actor? I practically faint,” she admitted.

The children were thrilled to be sitting at the table with Aladdin and Jasmine and asked a million questions.

Everyone had a grand time, but the evening had to come to a close. Warm good-byes were said to all and the family walked out to catch a taxi home.

 


 

 

“Did you miss Mommy and Daddy?” Finn asked his baby daughter when they had said goodbye to the babysitter.

“Of course she did, look at her eyes. She missed us,” Rachel answered for her, taking Adele from Finn's arms to give her a cuddle.

Blaine and Kurt had put the excited twins to bed and gone to get ready for sleep themselves. Finn thought they were probably calling Burt to check on their own baby. He knew it would be hard to leave a small baby to go on vacation, but this had been in the works since before they knew they were adopting Mitzi and to be fair, there were no better hands for Mitzi to be in than Burt and Carol Hummel.

 

 


 

 

“Blaine? Were you serious when you said it might be a mistake to raise the kids up on the mountain?” Kurt asked as they slipped into the bed.

“Well, I was wondering. I mean – they are not absorbing culture there, are they?” he asked. Blaine was tired. He was used to working hard all day, but this was different. Being in the noise and bustle of New York City was so different than being on the side of a mountain in Oregon. He met a few people every day, all of whom he had probably known since he was a kid. He knew how to react with them. It was comfortable.

But New York? Wow. It was so loud! And all the people and cars and smell everywhere. His blood pressure was up, he was anxious and nervous. It was just an uncomfortable place to be. He could see how Kurt seemed to like it, but he could not imagine living here.

“Blaine? Baby, come back – you seem to be in your own universe tonight. Is everything okay?” Kurt asked, stroking down Blaine's back to try and calm him.

“Oh, sorry. I'm just a bit worked up. This is a busy place and I'm trying to reset. Wow. If we do move off the mountain, I think a place like Philomath would be as close to a city as I'd want to be, you know? I'd never survive here,” Blaine admitted.

Kurt thought back to when Blaine moved with him to Lima for a year. Missing his wilderness in Oregon had been so apparent in Blaine. He was excited to be with Kurt, but it took a lot of getting used to. He remembered taking Blaine to visit the lake where Mercedes' folks had a cabin, how it had calmed Blaine in a significant way. Maybe his husband needed a break from the concrete, steel, and glass?

“Oh, I need to get us each a glass of water. Be right back,” Kurt excused himself, careful to close the door.

He found Finn in the living room, rocking little Adele in his arms. Kurt had a quick word with his brother, and got the water. He was back in the bedroom in moments.

 

“Okay, honey. I was thirsty,” he said, then went back to the discussion about the children.

“It didn't hurt you to live on that mountain, I don't think its hurting Jordan or Katura. We come down to Dad's pretty often and they can catch up with their friends at least once a month. Plus, look at all the good things they're learning: making jelly, sewing quilts, stripping logs to build a bridge, using the goats and cow for milk to make cheese and butter? Plus planting and caring for the garden, caring for all the animals . . . they are doing a lot.”

“Kurt, we can buy all of those things. We don't even have to go to a store, we can order them on the internet. Really, in the lives they will lead – do the children need those things?” Blaine asked.

“Of course they do! No, they wouldn't starve – I don't mean that. They would be able to buy a pound of butter at any grocery, but they wouldn't get the pride and satisfaction that they do in making it themselves. We're teaching them that they can be self-sufficient, Blaine. We're instilling a pride in them that they will need and use the rest of their lives.

“Plus, they get to do it with us. I never wanted to be a mechanic, never had a yen to open my own garage, but would I trade the years I spent with my dad learning to clean a carburetor for anything? Of course not. It isn't learning to make blackberry jelly that's important here, Babe, its the time spent doing it with their dads, with us showing them the love they need to be happy in life, no matter where it takes them,” Kurt ended, kissing Blaine on the end of his cute nose.

Blaine settled down in the bed, pulling Kurt close and giving him a passionate kiss.

“You are right, my love. Thank you, I feel better. But when we get back to Philomath? We're looking to see where they have a community theatre group so the kids can see more plays – or maybe be in a few themselves. That sounds great.”

 


The next week . . .

 

The next day Rachel had planned a day of rest. They had been touring New York – going to museums and the library, plays and restaurants. Even a boat ride to see the Statue of Liberty. She called it a 'taste of the real city'.

Kurt had asked Finn earlier in the week about a place away from the man-made parts of the city – maybe a place in Central Park? Finn knew just the perfect spot and gave Kurt the directions. Finn and Rachel were going to take the twins for ice cream and a walk in the park closer to their apartment. Adele loved to ride in her carriage and the twins loved pushing her.

 

“You know, Kurt, I always wanted to ride in a horse-drawn carriage in Central Park,” Blaine started to say, seeing one waiting for passengers when they entered the park. “But then I read so many awful things about how the horses are treated. I'd never support such abominable treatment. Poor horses,” he said, looking over the horse as a humane society officer came over to check the horse. It was cold out today and after talking to the man, the driver pulled a blanket from the back of the carriage and put it over the horse, walking it away.

“Looks like the Humane Society is looking out for the horses today,” Kurt said.

They walked down a pathway and on to another before Kurt found the sheltered place Finn told him about. He led Blaine over to sit on a marble bench.

“Wow, it is awfully cold today! I'm glad it doesn't get this cold in Oregon very often,” Kurt commented.

“Its not so bad. At least the wind isn't blowing – that's what makes it unbearable. I like it,” Blaine said and leaned close to Kurt and kissed him. They weren't used to looking around for possible danger where they lived – at least not from other people – so they just relaxed and held each other close, looking around at the trees and things in the park.

“This is so beautiful. The streets are so grimy and the snow is muddy brown, but this park is a bit of real life in this dead place,” Blaine said. “Don't get me wrong, I have enjoyed being here, seeing some amazing things, but I miss our mountain and I miss Mitzi.”

“I do, too. Its only one more day and we'll be on our way home. It was so kind of Rachel to arrange such a spectacular time here,” Kurt said, holding Blaine's hand.

“Yes, it was. I love her so much,” Blaine gushed, happy now that he'd finally seen the city and twice as happy he'd be going home tomorrow.

 


They had gotten home to Philomath the night before and Burt had picked them up at the Corvalis airport, taking them to the house in Philomath for the night. It was better to drive up Russell Mountain in the daylight.

 

Blaine, Kurt, Katura, and Jordan had all wanted to be the first one to hold Mitzi as soon as they got to the house. Grandma Carol was holding her, just ready to feed her a bottle when the twins burst in the door.

“I can feed her!” shouted Katie, rushing to her grandmother's side.

“It's my turn!” Jordy said, a step behind her.

“Calm down now, you'll scare the poor baby. She's so little, she doesn't understand all this commotion,” Carol scolded.

“I'm sorry, Mitzi,” cooed Katie, running her hand along the baby's cheek. Jordy blinked back the tears that started in his eyes.

“Katie can feed her, I'll wait and rock her after. Okay, Katie?” Jordan offered. He was much like his Tatay, always the peacemaker.

“Okay. Thank you, Jordy,” Katie said, giving him one of her beautiful smiles.

Carol smiled, too, so proud of her grandchildren. They had calmed down since moving up to Mt Russell, there was a real change in their attitude and it was definitely for the better. They were so much more mature now, just more settled in themselves instead of flighty. It was a good change.

 

Blaine and Kurt had moved the suitcases to their Navigator and were just walking in with Burt, the cat, Figaro, twining between Kurt's legs. The cat had been an anniversary present from Puck and Finn when all the boys had lived in the house during college. Grandma Sophie had taken care of the cat when she lived there, then Burt and Carol became the caretakers when they bought half the house. It had been decided that the cat wouldn't live very long up on the mountain with Balto and so many wild animals that might like to eat the little thing, so he had stayed at the house with whomever was living there.

“Figaro, come here, kitty,” Blaine called him. He sat down in the living room, the cat on his lap. He scratched him under his chin as they relaxed after the long plane ride across the continent.

Kurt sat next to him, his arm around Blaine's back. Jordan came over to sit next to his daddy, leaning on his side.

It was a quiet and happy reunion, the twins taking care of their little sister. Katie fed her and Jordan burped her, but neither wanted to change her diaper. Kurt laughed and got up to do it himself. Afterwards, he handed the baby to Blaine, who coaxed the cat down so he could hold his daughter. Kurt sat with his arms around Blaine as the tiny girl fell asleep.

They all slept in their own beds that night, upstairs in the house the boys had lived in during college, then redecorated to fit their growing family. Mitzi slept at the side of their room, in a crib they had bought for this house. She didn't need oxygen at this altitude, just when they were up on the mountain.

 

~

It was a happy family that finally drove into the drive up on Mt Russell. Kitty came out to welcome them home. She was a quiet girl, but was opening up to the family the longer she stayed with them, and they were glad to have her, knowing their homestead was taken care of when they were gone.

“Welcome home,” Kitty chirped, grinning at the family and coming close to peer at Mitzi. She was entranced by the tiny girl, having never been near a baby before.

It was still morning when they got home and the twins were excited to see all the animals. They visited the cow, Kimberly, and the ponies and mules along with the goats. All were favorites and the kids really missed them. Most of all, they missed the dogs and Lucy and Scout were overjoyed to see the family. They ran around, barking and wagging, running across the meadow and back. The kids ran with them, so glad to be home.

They finally ran out of energy and came back to the house, dogs not far behind.

 

Blaine was holding Mitzi, having removed her snowsuit and put on her oxygen. Mitzi had fussed, not liking it being taped to her soft cheeks, but she was soon distracted as her tatay sang a little song to her. Kurt joined in, then Kitty, too. Both men turned to her, surprised to hear her voice. It was beautiful and they wondered why she had never sang before with them.

 

 

 

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things

Cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudel
Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings
These are a few of my favorite things

Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes
Silver white winters that melt into springs
These are a few of my favorite things

When the dog bites, when the bee stings
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad

 

The twins came in just as the adults were finishing the song, but they sang the last verse with their parents.

“Oh, Kitty! I didn't know you could sing,” Blaine said, patting her arm.

“My mom used to sing that song to me. Sorry, I didn't mean to intrude,” she said, blushing.

“You are always welcome to sing with us, we all love to sing. I was surprised when you and your sister didn't sing along when we sang Christmas carols,” Kurt said.

“I was too shy, but now I know you don't mind, I'll probably sing more often,” Kitty said in a soft voice. They could tell she had enjoyed herself.

 

Mitzi interrupted them when she yawned and made a cute baby noise meaning she had enough of all this and wanted to take a nap. Kurt took her from her tatay's arms and took her upstairs, tucking her into her bed. He adjusted the heat in her room so she wouldn't get cold and went back to join the family.

They made an event out of lunch, taking some vegetables out of the freezer that had come from their garden. They made a roasted veggie and pasta dish with cheese they made from the cow's milk.

“Hey, I wanted to go check out the cave we found to see if its the right temperature to age some of this cheese next year. Anyone up for a walk?” Blaine asked. He felt just a little restless after being inside so much in New York.

“I'll go with you, Tatay,” Katie offered, happy to be moving herself. They weren't used to being so sedentary.

“I'll stay with Daddy and Mitzi then,” Jordan said, clearing the dishes from the table and setting them in the sink.

Everyone was off to do their activities. Kurt sat down near the fireplace to read, Kitty left to check on the chickens and make sure they had enough hay, and Jordan left to go to his room, returning with his quilt. It was quilted but needed the binding finished, they had been so busy the project had been set aside for a winter's day.

“I think I can finish this today, Daddy,” Jordan said with pride.

“I bet you can. Then you can snuggle under it tonight to keep you extra warm, right?” Kurt encouraged.

“Can I start a new quilt for Mitzi?” he asked.

“Of course you can, I know she would love that,” Kurt encouraged his son.

“I have a box of scrap fabrics that Grandma Sophie gave me. Maybe I'll get the book of patterns out and you can help me pick out a good one. She'd like it if I didn't put pink in it, wouldn't she? It doesn't have to be pink and flowers just because she's a girl, right?” Jordy asked.

“Of course not. I think she would like any color or pattern you chose for her,” Kurt smiled.

“Okay. We'll pick a good one.”

 

Blaine climbed up the rocky outcrop, looking to see how safe this would be for his daughter to climb behind him. He'd been climbing mountains all his life, but being a parent had changed his perspective.

“Should I hold on here? It doesn't look stable,” Katie said, looking around to find a better handhold. She found it before Blaine could pull back to look.

“Never mind, I found it,” she said, reaching up to hold fast to a rock before swinging herself up on the ledge beside her tatay.

“Good work, little one,” he said, rubbing her head and leaving a kiss there. “The cave is just ahead around this bend. There's even a natural walkway,” he said. The climb up the rockface wasn't very strenuous and he imagined they could build a ladder to get up here. He put an arm around his daughter and led the way into the cave.

It wasn't very deep, maybe twenty feet or so with no bends after the first one that led into the cave. They had to lean down to enter, but it opened enough to let them stand after that. There were no signs of any animals and a sandy floor with rocks that looked like built-in shelves.

“Oh, Tatay, this is perfect!” Katie said. “Is it the right temperature?”

Blaine took out a thermometer and set it on a shelf.

“Its 48 degrees Fahrenheit,” Blaine answered, grinning. He'd read that the idea temperature for aging cheese was approximately 50 degrees, so this seemed perfect.

“We can build a door to keep out curious or hungry animals, right?” Katie asked, thinking right away that she might be allowed to help.

“Right. Well, let's get back to Daddy and Jordy – oh, and Mitzi, too,” Blaine smiled.

 

Katie held her tatay's hand on the way back to their log home. Life was just too good for them and the worry about whether they were doing the right thing for the children faded into the distance.

Blaine stopped when they reached the meadow. The picture-perfect tableau was spread out in front of him. The corrals of split-pine for the livestock, the log buildings for the cow, goats, ponies, mules, and the chicken house were dotted in the yard and then there was the pretty log house with wrap-around porch and balcony, smoke coming out of the stone chimney. It looked like a Christmas card with the new-fallen snow. He squeezed his daughter's hand.

I'll race you home?” he proposed and Katie grinned.

You're on, Tatay!”


 

 

 

Chapter Text

Return to Glory – Chapter Fourteen – The Lesson

 

“Men have forgotten this truth,” said the fox. “But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.”

~Antoine Saint Exupery, The Little Prince


February

Anderson-Hummel Homestead

Mt Russell, Oregon

 

“Hi, Daddy. What are you doing?” Katura asked. Blaine and Jordan had left early that morning to tend to the bees. Mitzi had been fussy and Kurt had rocked her for a long time before she fell asleep. She was sleeping in her crib now. Katie had washed the morning's dishes and come in to sit with her daddy in front of the warm fire.

“I'm knitting a pair of socks for your tatay,” he answered, smiling at his daughter. She was growing in leaps and bounds, her red-gold hair shining in the braids Blaine had made before breakfast.

“Can I learn?” she asked.

“Of course. What do you want to make?” he asked.

“A nice, warm afghan for Mitzi,” she answered.

“That's a wonderful idea. I am so proud of your kindness, Princess,” Kurt glowed.

“Don't call me that, okay? That's a name for a little girl and I am almost a pre-teen now,” she rebuffed her father. He sighed. There was that aspect of her growing up, too.

“Okay, Katura. I'm sorry.”

Kurt got up and went to the storage room off the kitchen and rummaged around for a while.

“What color yarn do you want to work with?” she called out. Katie came and looked through the large container of bright colors. She picked six skeins of yarn, all shades of blues, aquas, and greens.

“Are these okay?” she asked.

“Of course, honey. I like your choice, that will make a beautiful afghan. Now, instead of knitting, I think you might do better with crocheting. It's easier to learn and makes a better afghan,” he told her. Katie smiled.

“What's the difference?”

“Knitting makes a stitch that can stretch – used mainly for sweaters and socks and things. Crocheting makes a stitch that is more stable – such as for afghans. I can teach you either one, so it's your choice,” Kurt offered.

“I think I'd like to learn crochet first,” she smiled. It wasn't often that she had her daddy all to herself and she planned to make the most of it.

“Okay. I'll just get the right hook for that. See, here on the label of the yarn it says to use a size J hook. Here's the box of hooks, let's find a J hook . . . “ he said, handing her the box. Katie quickly found a blue hook the right size and they went to sit on the settee in front of the fire once again.

“First you tie a slip-knot. You know how to do that, right?” he asked. He and Blaine had taught the twins how to tie a lot of different knots last summer.

“Yes, I can do that,” she answered, proceeding to show him.

“Okay, you slide the hook into the knot like this, then you hold the yarn here. Poking the hook through here and catching the yarn like this . . . “ he demonstrated how to make a chain. “The tension in this part of the yarn, looped around your finger here, is the most important part in making the stitches even.”

They spent half an hour doing the chain over and over, Katie sometimes getting frustrated, but doggedly pursuing the art of crocheting.

“I'll never get it right,” she sighed, setting the yarn and hook down on the table to rub at her eyes.

“Nobody does it all right the first time. Remember when Grandma Sophie taught you to sew quilt pieces together? You had to practice and practice. Now look at the beautiful, even stitches you do! I know you'll get this, too.” he told her, pulling the girl into his arms and hugging her for a few minutes.

“Now, go get us both a glass of juice and we'll take a break. I think there's some nice scones your tatay made in there, too.”

Katie returned with a tray of juice and two scones a piece with fresh butter and raspberry jam.

“Thank you, Katie-girl,” Kurt said, then wondered if that was too childish a name to suit his fractious daughter this morning. He closed his eyes, imagining what Blaine and Jordan were up to.

It wasn't long before Kurt and Katura were back at the yarn arts, both contentedly working on their projects.

 

~

 

“Why don't we snare rabbits in the winter? Oh! Are they hibernating?” Jordan asked his tatay.

“No, honey, rabbits don't hibernate, they just change their diet. In spring they eat tender young sprouts. That is the best time to snare them. In summer they eat fat, juicy berries and green clover and other plants, which puts good muscle and fat on their bones, but in winter they have to eat twigs and bark. The rabbits we would snare at this time of year are usually skinny. Of course, if you were starving and needed to eat, it would be fine. I like to wait until after they have their babies and the babies grow up a little before I start snaring them again – along about June,” Blaine explained to his son.

Blaine had tried to show the children that they must be kind to all animals, but that it was okay to do things like kill a chicken or snare a rabbit for supper as long as the instrument of death was quick and as painless as possible. He had taught them how to make a proper snare a few years ago and the kids loved his rabbit pie as much as Kurt did. They learned how to gut and skin the animals and to cook them.

“Why don't we eat other animals – like coyotes and birds?” Jordan asked.

“There are a lot of animals that people eat – squirrels, raccoons, frogs. I just don't happen to care too much for them. We usually don't eat carnivores – like coyotes, wolves, bobcats – because the meat has a taste that most people don't care for,” Blaine explained.

“We ate squirrel last summer,” Jordan remembered.

“Yeah, we did. I saw a bunch of fat little squirrels and hit them with rocks. I can use a gun but I prefer not to.”

“Then why did you teach me and Katie to shoot guns?” Jordan asked.

“Because its important that you understand how to be safe with them if you are ever in a place that you need to use them. If you were lost on the mountain and had a gun with you, you would need to know how to take care of it and how to shoot it. Your life might depend on shooting a deer for your supper or to defend yourself from an angry bear. I think that even though your dad and I don't use guns very often, it just makes sense that you know the rules about them,” Blaine rambled.

He was caught off-guard by the question. He and Kurt had a long talk about whether to teach the twins gun safety and both had agreed that knowing about guns was safer. Blaine did own several guns. He had a hand gun, a shotgun and two rifles. He'd gone elk and deer hunting with Cooper and his dad when he was a teenager. He had nothing against shooting animals for food, he just didn't care to shoot guns himself.

“So, could you shoot an elk? I like elk meat,” Jordan said.

“We have elk in the freezer that Uncle August brought us,” Blaine told his son.

“Oh. Okay then, we can eat that. Can we cook an elk roast for supper tomorrow? With potatoes that we grew and green beans? I think we have some in the freezer from the garden,” Jordan asked, his mouth watering with the anticipation.

“Of course. I love elk roast, too.” Blaine grinned.

“Tatay? What's wrong with that fox? It isn't running from us,” Jordan said, pointing to a fox on the path in front of them.

Blaine was instantly alert. A sick fox could mean rabies. He put a restraining hand on his son and watched the little fox. She seemed to be in a lot of distress, then fell down on the path.

“Stay here, honey, and I'll go see,” Blaine said. He walked slowly up to the fox and saw that it was dead. He turned it over with his boot, careful not to touch it in case it had died of something like rabies. But no, there was a large wound in its side, probably from a much larger animal.

“Come here, Jordy,” he called to the boy and showed him, still without touching it, the way the fox had died.

“It was probably a big cat – a lynx or bobcat. The fox probably got away, but not before the larger animal had clawed or bitten her.”

“Oh, that's sad,” Jordan said, looking closely at the dead fox. “She is so pretty with her red coat and brush tail.”

“Yes, she was. I can see why people like to make capes and jackets out of fox fur – although I don't approve of fox farms that raise them in cages just to kill them for fashion. They can make faux fur now that looks just like the real thing.”

“How do you know it's a girl?” Jordan asked.

Blaine turned her over and showed his son the female characteristics of the fox.

“Oh, it's kind of like a dog,” Jordy concluded.

“Its even more tragic in this one, it looks like she had a litter of pups,” Blaine said.

“How do you know?” Jordan asked.

“See where her teats are engorged with milk? She has a litter she's been feeding,” he said.

“We need to find them!” Jordan practically shouted.

“We probably can't. They hide their pups very well, and although human children don't always mind their parents, fox cubs usually do,” Blaine said with a smile on his lips.

“Maybe we should look,” Jordy said again. He was very adamant that the baby foxes might die if they lost their mother.

“Well, okay, son. Don't expect to find them, though.”

They looked through the brush and didn't see anything. Over an hour later Blaine decided they needed to head home for lunch.

 

~

 

It was after lunch when the kids got restless. Blaine was feeding Mitzi and she was being just as fussy as she had been that morning, so he was rocking her. They had eaten a big lunch and the twins had been working on their projects: Katie crocheting and Jordan piecing the quilt he wanted to make for Mitzi.

“Let's go for a run with the dogs,” Jordan said and Katie readily agreed.

They started out across the meadow towards the stable, but Jordan led them off towards the woods behind the meadow.

“Hey, we can't go there unless we ask Daddy and Tatay,” Katie said, looking at her twin as if he'd lost his mind.

“You can stay here if you want. I want to go find the baby foxes before they either starve or that lynx kills them,” Jordan said with conviction. He and Blaine had told the others about the fox that died in the woods and had probably left behind a litter of kits. “Besides, we'll be safe, we have Lucy and Scout with us.”

“Oh, I'll go with you!” Katie squealed. She was always up for adventure and was less likely to follow the rules than Jordan was. Katie had always been a wild child at heart.

They walked quietly along the deer trail to the place in the forest where Jordy had seen the mother fox. He found her, the dogs growling as they sniffed the carcass of the fox.

“Find!” Katie commanded the dogs. They knew this command and began sniffing the fox and then all around her. Katie followed Lucy and Jordy followed Scout as they walked through the heavy brush beside the path.

“We better keep in shouting distance, Katie, I don't want us to get lost,” Jordy mentioned. He automatically felt for the whistle around his neck to be sure he had it. It was the number one rule of their family – always have your whistle. Katie smiled at her brother and felt under her shirt for her own whistle.

“I have mine, too,” she said, reaching out to touch her twin's hand for a brief moment before turning to follow the little flat-coated retriever into the trees.

“It was about a half an hour and both dogs were sniffing along a distinct path. While Katie and Jordan couldn't see it, they knew the dogs were following their noses to a scent only they could detect.

“Hold his leash!” Katie directed her brother when the two dogs got excited and tried to run. Jordan held Scout's leash tightly in his hand and followed the dog.

The dogs burst through a screen of raspberry bushes and stopped at a hole in the ground. Jordan stopped right behind his dog and looked closely. He'd have never found it on his own.

“Okay, hold the dogs,” he asked his sister and she took Scout's leash.

“Sit. Stay.” she commanded them and the dogs obeyed, although both were still sniffing loudly and leaning towards the hole.

“Jordan, don't just stick your hand in that hole! What if its a badger hole? You could get bitten by a mean badger with rabies and die,” she prophesied.

“Geeze, Katie, you have some imagination,” he observed, laughing to himself. He wasn't dumb enough to stick his bare hand in an unknown hole.

Finding a stick, he put it in the hole and felt around. He heard a yip – not the sound a badger makes – and tried to get the animal inside to come out. Just as he was rolling up his sleeve, a sleepy fox cub came out of the den. It was fuzzy and cute and yawned before looking around.

“Oh, my stars in heaven...” he said, using his tatay's favorite saying.

He quietly crouched down and scooped the little fox into his arms. The fox tried to bite him, growling and fussing. It was young, but old enough to show his wild nature. Jordan took off his jacket and wrapped the little cub up, handing it to Katie as he picked up the stick to see how many more were in the den. He couldn't find any with the stick, then tried with his hand. The den wasn't very deep and Jordy could feel all of it. There were no more cubs.

“Let's get him back to the house, Katie. I have the feeling we're going to be in trouble.”

They walked back to the house, taking turns in holding the little cub. He was very cute, like a stuffed animal instead of a live fox.

“Should we just walk into the house with it or try to hide it in the barn?” Katie asked. “We can feed it goat milk.”

“I think we'd be in more trouble if we try to hide it. I don't have to tell them you were involved, Tatay will know it was my idea,” Jordan said, not wanting to drag his twin into the punishment he was sure was coming.

“Out looking for more bees?” Kitty said, startling the two children.

“No, something a bit bigger,” Jordan said. He liked Kitty. She was still shy around the adults, but was very open with the children.

Jordan opened the coat to show her.

“Oh, a coyote? Where'd you get your hands on that? Its mama will be looking for it. I'll help you put it back,” Kitty offered.

“Its a fox and its mother died from a wound from a big cat. Tatay said it was from a lynx or a bobcat. It left this poor baby an orphan, so Katie and I are going to adopt it,” Jordan said, looking at Kitty to gage her reaction.

“Oh, Jordy. No, it won't work. You can't raise a wild thing to be like your dog. You should never make a pet out of a wild animal. It isn't right,” Kitty warned.

“We'll just feed him until he's ready to go back into the wild,” Jordan said, determined.

“Well, you better go talk to your fathers. I bet they will agree with me.”

 

Katie and Jordan walked slowly into the house, the cub wrapped in Jordan's soft jacket.

“Hey, I was just about to whistle for you two,” Kurt said, smiling at his children.

“Mitzi just fell asleep, so let's keep the noise level down, okay kids?” Blaine said as he came down the stairs. “Whatcha got in your jacket?”

“Now, don't be angry at me, Tatay,” he started.

“Oh, no, what have you done?” Kurt asked, looking at the kids with suspicious eyes. He walked towards them, stopping when Blaine was by his side. He instinctively reached for his husband and held his hand as the kids stood mute in front of them.

“Well?” Blaine asked, catching and holding Jordan's eye. He could tell this was the culprit in that way parents have of using an extra sense to determine what their offspring were guilty of.

Jordan didn't say a word, he just uncovered the baby fox, asleep in his arms inside the coat.

“Oh, my stars in heaven . . . you did. I knew it! I was just telling your daddy that you would be the one to go and find that little fox and bring it back here!”

“I'm sorry, Tatay. Don't blame Katie - I asked her to come along. I knew she would go looking for the baby foxes and I thought I'd go look for them with Lucy and Scout. It was a good thing they were there, I'd never have found the baby fox on my own,” Jordan said in a rush. He'd been making up the speech all the way home.

“Give me the fox,” Blaine said, taking the little guy from his son. “Now, both of you go to your rooms while your dad and I talk this over.”

The twins walked up the stairs slowly, with many glances back at their tatay standing in the hall with the fox.

 

“Oh, Kurt, what are we going to do? Jordan knew not to go back into the woods alone and I specifically told him to leave the foxes alone,” Blaine ranted, instinctively holding the baby fox carefully to his side.

“You know your son, you know your children, baby. They could no more leave that baby to die than you could. Admit it, you were going to go look for it yourself, weren't you?” Kurt asked, patting the settee for his husband to come sit. “Leave the fox over there, though. I don't want it near Mitzi.”

Blaine set the baby fox, still wrapped in Jordy's jacket, on the floor. He walked over to Kurt and sat down with a sigh.

“You're right. I was planning to go out to look once again tomorrow morning. I couldn't leave a defenseless litter of babies to get eaten by a lynx or worse to starve. I know I'm going to regret this one day,” he said and leaned on Kurt's shoulder. “Tell me I'm doing the right thing?”

“You are. I couldn't leave it, either. I guess we're all just soft-hearted,” Kurt murmured to Blaine.

“More like soft-headed,” he said back.

Mitzi closed her eyes and snuggled down in her daddy's arms. Blaine wrapped his arm around her and Kurt, wanting to protect them from all the bad things in the world. He had a bad feeling about saving the little fox, but he knew he had to do it. Maybe he could prevent any harm from coming.

 

 


 

 

And so the fox, named Harold, lived in the barn at the Anderson-Hummel homestead. The little guy grew quickly on goat's milk and minced meat. Jordan learned to set snares just like his tatay and gave the rabbits he caught to the fox. Harold learned to come when he was called and to sit and lie down on command. By the time he was three months old, he was practically like a dog. He wore a collar just like the dogs and ate with them on the porch. In almost every way he was just like the dogs.

Lucy was acting funny and Scout followed her around like a lovesick puppy. Asking their fathers for an explanation, they found out that Lucy was in season and she and Scout might have puppies. Living in a place with abundant livestock, the twins knew about the cycles of life. They knew the cow had been taken to a bull on a farm down in the valley so she might have a calf. Cows take about the same time as humans to gestate a calf and Kimberly was due in May. She was getting very fat and didn't have any milk anymore. Three of the goats were pregnant and two hens were sitting on nests of eggs. Even the ducks were sitting on eggs.

“I think we're going to have a lot of babies come spring,” Kurt said one day. He'd just come in from feeding the dogs and Harold.

“Oh, the cow is getting so fat!” Katie giggled. She had loved that cow since the day Kurt brought her home and was looking forward to seeing the new calf.

“I think we need to reassess the corrals and everything. The land is enough, but not enough is fenced to accommodate the new animals,” Blaine said, looking out the window at the meadow. He'd had a crew come and clear some ground down the road to plant hay and alfalfa.

 

It was just turning April when the construction crew showed up at the homestead. They came with fencing and building materials, plans and lots of men. It was less than three months and the new corrals and barn were done. In addition, there was a small house across the road from them now and Kitty was living there.

 

“You didn't have to build a whole new house for me, you know,” Kitty said, sitting on an Adirondack chair on the porch in the light breeze. She was wearing a sweater and looking at the new house. It was made of the same logs that the big house was made from and Kurt had designed it to be efficient for one or two people.

“We needed a house for the caretaker to live in. This place is too big for us to take care of by ourselves,” Kurt told her. He was seated next to Blaine on the Adirondack loveseat. Blaine was burrowed into his side with his head resting on Kurt's shoulder. They were under an afghan to keep the cold away from Kurt's knee. It still pained him from the injury he sustained on the beach when he was flying a kite with Blaine many years ago. Blaine had broken his leg, too, though much later and it gave him some sharp pains from time to time – though he would never admit it.

“Its so perfect. I really appreciate you letting me live here,” Kitty said. She was very grateful to have the job of caretaker. She'd thought she could be a lumberjack, but she never fit in with the rough men that harvested the logs and when Blaine offered her the job of taking care of the homestead, she jumped at the chance.

“We appreciate you, Kitty. You are perfect for the job, all the animals are well taken care of. You know you can bring someone to live with you here if you want one day. It could be your sister or a significant other. I know its hard to live by yourself sometimes,” Blaine said, looking at Kitty. He worried about her sometimes.

“Oh, I don't have one of those!” she giggled, “And I don't want one right now. Maybe someday. I might have Georgia come to visit when the animals start in having babies, though. She is good with animals, too.” Kitty told them with a smile.

“She is welcome,” Kurt smiled. He really liked Kitty a lot and her sister was also a kind and gentle person. Well, unless you were playing Crack the Whip on the frozen lake!

The three of them looked out to see the meadows and the newly fenced in areas. They had the whole meadow fenced so all the livestock could take advantage of the grass and a place to run.

There were separate places for the cow and the ponies, then a place for the goats. Only the chickens and ducks were not allowed in the meadow, but they had their own covered yard to be in. The ducks had a pool made of cement and sunk into the ground. There was a new hen house and a new house for the ducks. There was a third house in the row for turkeys since Blaine had thought about having a few of those, too, or maybe some peacocks? Who knew at this point.

The twins were running in the field, the dogs and Harold running with them.

“Its funny how that fox is only a few months old and can do almost anything the dogs can do,” Kurt said, watching the gray and red fox as it ran behind Lucy and Scout.

The only thing that Blaine insisted on was that Harold not sleep in the house. He just had an uneasy feeling and went with his instinct. The kids argued but Blaine stood his ground. He had the kids build Harold a little house up off the ground to stay warmer in winter and cooler in summer. It was made of logs and had a soft place inside filled with hay covered by a blanket to keep him warm. It was in the fox yard: a covered wire enclosure that the fox could not get out of. It wasn't for lack of trying, though. At night when Harold was locked in his yard, he tried to bite the wire that held him a prisoner.

One day the wily fox discovered that he could dig. He dug a hole nearby to try and get out at night, but the kids found it and filled it in.

 

One morning the hens came out leading all the new chicks that had hatched during the early morning hours. Katie and Jordan stayed in the chicken yard for a long time, playing with the little chicks and feeding the proud mamas. The rooster crowed and crowed that day, telling everyone about his new family.

 

A few days later . . .

 

“Daddy, weren't there twenty-one chicks in the henhouse?” Katie asked after she had gone to feed the chickens.

“Oh, did another hen have a clutch?” Kurt asked.

“No. But there are only nineteen chicks,” Katie reported.

“Maybe they were still in the hen house and not in the yard?”

“No, Daddy, I looked,” she said.

Kurt took her back out to the hen house and they counted the chicks. Only nineteen.

“Maybe we counted wrong to begin with,” Kurt said.

“Maybe...”

 

Two mornings later there were only twelve chicks and one of the big hens was gone – the one with green in her tail feathers.

“Sounds like we have an unwelcome visitor,” Blaine said, “Maybe a stoat or a weasel.”

He went out with Kitty to search for a way the predator got in. They repaired a hole in the chicken wire and re-stapled an edge that looked loose. The chicken were safe again until a week later.

“Daddy! Tatay!” Jordan called from the yard and ran up to the porch.

“What, Jordy? What's wrong?” they asked the excited boy.

“The chickens! There are four dead chickens and only nine chicks,” he sobbed. Katie came running from the goat barn when she heard her brother yelling.

“No, not the chickens . . . but how?” she asked, tears in her eyes. They all walked to the chicken yard together, looking over the dead chickens. Each had their throat bitten out, some had been partially eaten.

“This is more than a hungry chance predator, this is an animal that knows the chickens are here.” Blaine went to get a shovel to dig a hole to bury the dead chickens. Kurt gathered them and walked behind his husband to put the birds in the hole.

“I don't see how the creature got in, there aren't any holes in the fence and since its covered they couldn't get over the fence,” Kitty said when they all got back to the house.

“Daddy, could we use a camera to watch them?” Jordan asked.

“I do have the cameras we use to watch the house. I'll move one to the chicken coop tonight,” Blaine said.

By evening he had it all in place.

“I could sit out here with my shotgun maybe?” Blaine said to Kurt later when the kids were doing the dishes after supper.

“No, honey. At least not yet. There has to be an answer and I think the camera will show us,” Kurt replied. He was as heart-sick as any of them over the loss of the chickens.

 

The next morning there were two more chickens found dead in the yard and no chicks were left.

“Let's watch and see what the cameras found,” Kurt said, setting the monitor so they could all see it.

It was a long time of nothing, then a movement was seen in the yard. A chicken was being pulled out a loose board into the yard by an animal. It was very dark, but the clouds seemed to move away and the moonlight shone on the culprit. It was a fox.

“But how is it getting in?” asked Katie. She had gone over every inch of wire with her tatay and Kitty just yesterday.

They watched and the fox dragged another chicken out, eating most of it before getting a third. He didn't leave a trace of the second one, which was why they only found two. Just as the fox turned to leave the yard, a light caught something around his neck. Kurt paused the video and it was clear to everyone in the room: the fox was wearing a dog collar with the same kind of buckle that Harold was wearing. Harold went under the coop where he'd dug a hole and slipped into the night, no doubt back to his own yard.

Jordan burst into tears. He knew that Harold, his beloved pet fox, had gotten out of his yard and gotten into the chicken yard to kill the family's chickens.

He got up and headed for the door. Kurt made as though to stop him but Blaine held him back.

“Let him go, Kurt. He knows what has to be done.”

 

Jordan went to the fox's yard and let himself in. He looked around and found the hole the clever fox had hidden under the doghouse. It led outside the pen.

“What have you done, Harold? Why did you eat those chickens?” he asked as the fox sat beside him and let the boy pet him. He even licked the boy's arm a bit. Jordan cried hot tears into the fox's fur. He knew that once a chicken killer the fox would always be a chicken killer. He might even try to kill the baby goats when they were born in June. It wasn't really Harold's fault, he was born a fox and had instincts like a fox.

 

After an hour, Jordan went back inside.

“Okay, Tatay, I'm ready.” Jordan was standing by his father. He waited as his tatay got the ammunition from a locked box in his room and then the gun from the locked gun safe.

“I already dug the hole, on the meadow near the big pine tree,” Jordan said.

 

They put Harold on a leash and led him out to the woods. He frolicked and played on the way, happy to be in the forest that he loved. Jordan tied him to a tree and took the gun from his father.
“I'm sorry, son.” Blaine said in a very tight voice. He was so worked up and sad that he could think of nothing but how Jordy would react to having to shoot his own pet animal.

“I'll shoot him if you want . . . “ Blaine offered but Jordy shook his head.

Jordan looked up with liquid eyes.

“Could we take him away, maybe to Warner Camp? If he was far away, he wouldn't be able to kill the chickens,” Jordan pleaded, though he knew he wouldn't get the answer he wanted.

“No, Jordy, it wouldn't work. Harold is not a wild animal anymore but neither is he tamed. He is stuck in between and there is no good answer for this. He'd find his way back here eventually. I'm so, so sorry sweetheart,” Blaine told his son, hugging him close. He knew how hard this would be, but it was important for Jordan to know what happens when you try to tame a wild animal.

 

~

Katie had gone to her room when she heard the gunshot from just beyond the trees at the far side of the meadow. She sat down on a chair, suddenly feeling too tired to move.

Kurt held Mitzi in his arms. He shuddered when he heard the gunshot, his heart hurting for his son. Sometimes life was so hard, even if you tried to do all the right things. He hurt for Jordan because the boy was trying to do the right thing and it turned out to be a tragedy any way you looked at it. He hoped this would be the last hard thing for a long time.

Blaine took Jordan into his arms and held him for a long time. Then Jordan turned and picked up the body of his fox and walked back to the meadow where he'd dug the grave under a pine tree. He put the body in and then helped Blaine fill in the grave. They put a large stone over it and walked back to the house together, the setting sun at their backs.

 


 

Chapter Text

Return to Glory – Chapter Fifteen – What Dreams May Come

 

You know that place between sleep and awake, the place where you can still remember dreaming? That's where I'll always love you, Peter Pan. That's where I'll be waiting.”

~ J. M. Barrie, Peter Pan



May

Hummel-Anderson Homestead

Mt Russell, Oregon



Mitzi was curled against Kurt and Blaine in their bed. They didn't usually feed her in their bed, but both men were tired after the day in Philomath. The twins had wanted to stay with their grandparents for a week to visit friends and play with Sarah and Anthony Puckerman. Burt and Carol agreed, so Kurt and Blaine had returned to Mt Russell with just their youngest daughter.

Mitzi had her check-up with the cardiologist and her pediatrician, Dr. Wallace, while they were in Philomath. She was doing great, no problems with her heart or her breathing.

“I think we can stop the oxygen while she's at home. You remember weaning Katie off of it – so this should be easy,” Dr Wallace smiled.

“Yes, put it on her every other night for a week, monitoring her blood-oxygen level and call if there's a problem. If it stays above 90 all week then leave it off. Right?” Kurt asked. The doctor nodded her head and gave him a pat on the arm.

“You're an old pro at this, right?”

Kurt laughed.

“Okay, she just needs her booster shots and you're ready to go,” the doctor said. She administered the shots quickly and Mitzi hardly fussed at all. “Her ear infection is fairly minor, so make sure she takes all of the antibiotics and let me know if she gets irritable again.”

“Will do. Thank you, doctor. We do appreciate you seeing her on such short notice. I thought it was an ear infection – Jordan had them and I recognized the symptoms.”

“It was my pleasure.”


“Okay, I have the nursery monitor on, we'll hear if she gets fussy in the night and I switched on the O2 alarm so if her oxygen goes down we'll hear that, too,” Blaine said, walking back into their bedroom.

“I was thinking about putting the hammock back up on the balcony – but the air is still a bit brisk. It's a beautiful full moon out there tonight. May in Ohio was already sweltering, so I guess I can't complain about a bit of cool weather here, can I?” Kurt smirked. Blaine came over and swatted his butt, then kissed him.

“Nope. Oregon is perfect.”

“Well, only because you're here with me. Not because of the weather,” Kurt kidded back.

They crawled into bed, kissed for a while and fell sound asleep. For once they were on separate sides of the bed.


 

~*~ BLAINE's DREAM ~*~

 

Blaine was walking down the path towards the cabin he shared with his brother and father, holding the rabbit he'd just brought home from the snare. His dad had taught him how to set the snares but not how to clean the rabbit and Blaine was a bit afraid of Cooper's teasing when he brought the animal home. He straightened his shoulders and marched into the cabin.

“Hey, Squirt, get that out of here, you're dripping blood all over the floor!” Cooper shouted, giving his little brother a light kick in the back of his pants to scoot him on his way.

“Where's Dad?” Blaine asked.

“Went to get water. He'll be right back.”

Blaine went back outside to sit on the bench and wait for his father to return. The bench was, like most things in the cabin, made by his father out of logs peeled and split to make a sturdy, beautiful piece of furniture. Blaine hoped that one day his dad would teach him how to make furniture like this. He didn't wait long before he heard whistling from down the road.

“Blainey, whatcha got there, son?” Sterling asked. He was carrying two five-gallon buckets of water, swinging them without spilling a single drop.

“I snared a rabbit, Daddy, but I don't know how to gut him,” Blaine said. He didn't mention that Cooper had kicked him, quite literally, out of the cabin. The brothers fought all the time, but they didn't tell on each other.

“Well, there's only one way to remedy that,” the man grinned, “Set it down here and go get your knife.”

“I have it right here,” Blaine said proudly, moving his too-big, hand-me-down, shirt to show his father the knife in its sheath attached to his belt. His dad had given him the knife for his tenth birthday just last week.

Sterling Anderson didn't believe in coddling his sons. He'd been working on this mountain with his friend and partner, Brayden Warner, since the two of them were just kids. Brayden lived in a big, fancy house on the other side of the camp but Sterling didn't have time or desire for such things. He liked living in the cabin he built with his own two hands and his sons seemed to like it, too. They were not going to end up spoiled from too much money if Sterling could help it.

The man helped his son to gut the rabbit and then dispose of the intestines and other scraps.

“Do you want to keep the skin?” Sterling asked, his eyebrow cocked in question.

“Yes, Daddy, if I could,” Blaine said, hoping it would be allowed.

“Okay, I can teach you how to brain tan the skin. Its a lot of work but you'll have a nice skin when we're done. First you need to decide if you want the hair on the skin or if you want it to be simple leather,” he said to Blaine.

It was decided that it would be denuded of the hair and the skin would become leather for a special purpose that only Blaine knew. Lucky for Blaine, his dream didn't detail the messy and quite malodorous task of brain-tanning the skin.

Somehow the rabbit skin was done now and Blaine was very proud of the job he'd done. He took it out and smoothed the soft leather under his hand. He smiled up at his father, who he idolized. He worked so hard to make his father proud of him, putting aside any fears or worries. Blaine put his heart into anything his daddy wanted to teach him. A pat on his shoulder for a job well done was all the reward the young boy wanted or needed.

“Daddy? Can we finish the book?” Blaine asked. Cooper had gone to look for a Christmas tree with his pal, August, leaving Blaine alone with his father.

“Sure, son,” Sterling said, guiding Blaine's hands as they stitched the pages, groups of which were called 'signatures', together in the book press. It was a complicated process, just the kind Sterling loved to teach and Blaine loved to learn.

Gone were the frustrating bits and things done wrong that needed to be done again, dreaming was so much easier than real life.

At last Blaine came to the best part. His father helped him take the tanned and stretched rabbit hide and fashion it into the cover of his book. Every page, even the end sheets that Blaine had marbled with water and paint were made by his own hands, went into the book that Blaine would use as a journal. He'd never been prouder of anything in his life. His father's obvious pride in him was something to keep in his heart forever.

“Thank you, Daddy,” Blaine murmured as he snuggled into his father's big loving arms.

 

 

~*~ JORDAN'S DREAM ~*~

 

He was sitting on a porch step that looked strangely like the one in his fourth grade reader. He didn't have a porch step at his homes in Philomath or on Mt Russell, so this must be new?

He was waiting, waiting...finally giving in to his second nature and following an ant across the dirt road.

The ant disappeared down a hole in his anthill and Jordy followed him. He could hear all the conversations around him as the ants spoke to each other. Each one seemed to be connected to the others in their group by some kind of relationship: brothers, sisters, aunts, cousins, or whatever. Jordy didn't have anyone like that in his dream. He was alone in the world and nobody would miss him if he just disappeared.

The biggest ant came over to ask him questions.

“Who's son are you? You cannot stay unless you have parents and a family here,” the ant said.

“No, I don't have anyone,” Jordy answered and he was asked to leave.

He wanted to do something about it, he was hungry, couldn't remember eating, and he thought that working here might bring him some food. He closed his eyes and thought about the last time he'd been able to sleep and the last time he'd eaten.

Jordy's thrashing around made the ant holding him let loose and he confronted this supposed leader ant. It just didn't look good.

“Where's your family? You need a family to belong,” the leader said.

“I don't have one.”

“What? I never heard of such a thing. Who is your mother? Your brother? Anyone?” he asked and Jordan hung his head.

“I don't know. They left and I'm here alone....”

“Nobody is alone. It just isn't done.” The leader ant began taking his hand to guide him out of the ant hill. Jordan went along with him, he didn't know any different. He couldn't think of what might happen.

“Wait – I can take him. He can be a part of our family,” an ant Jordan hadn't seen before spoke up. This new ant held out many of his arms and Jordan fell into them. This ant had curly hair on his head and twinkling brown eyes. The ant next to him had sparkling blue eyes and Jordan could see love in those eyes of his potential family. A younger ant came to hold his hand for a moment and she felt familiar to him. He smiled as she put her arms around him. He wanted so badly to belong to this small group of ants, to love and be loved by them, to work alongside of them to make the anthill prosper.

He felt hope in his heart that he could have an ant family, too.

 

~*~ BURT'S DREAM ~*~

 

“Wait, Daddy! Wait for me!” the little girl shouted as Burt walked along the sidewalk that lead down to the beach. She was around six years old and dressed in a red sun dress with white lace ruffles around the hem. There were little buttons shaped like doggies down the front of the dress and her fingers fidgeting with the buttons, her thumb outlining the shape of the dogs over and over. She had a bonnet on her wispy golden curls to keep the bright sunshine out of her face.

“Hurry along, we want to get down there while the tide is out,” Burt encouraged the little girl. He took her hand, the one that was not holding a white cane with a red tip. She was feeling her way along the sidewalk in a confident way and Burt realized she probably didn't need his hand. But he held it anyway just to be closer to her.

“I want to find some shells today, Daddy. I want to take them to Mama Carol. She always likes shells.”

“Okay, baby girl. We'll look for shells,” Burt assured her.

He wandered along the high tide line, helping the girl find shells that felt interesting to little fingers. Their dog, a funny looking rainbow of a dog with a crinkly ear followed them along the shore and barked his squeaky bark at the seagulls.

Burt spotted a clump of interesting seaweed and led the girl there, warning her the plants might feel funny to her, but there could be pretty shells hiding under them.

Daisy grinned up at him, feeling with her feet and cane until she encountered the seaweed, then knelt down to move it aside and find treasure.

“Daddy! This one is a scallop!” she crowed, excited to find her favorite shell. It had rows of ridges across the top of the arched shell. Her busy fingers found the bottom shell was flatter. Since it was not tightly closed and was on top of the sand she concluded that the little animal that had lived inside the shell was gone.

“Do you want to put that one in your bucket?” Burt asked, holding it out to her.

“Yes, Daddy, I want to bring it home. Is that okay?” she asked.

“Of course, anything you want,” Burt answered.

Daisy felt along the course, wet sand and touched another shell. It was flat and round and bright white, about the size of her palm.

“Oh, this has a...sandy texture?” Daisy said, looking up at her father to be sure she'd said the right word. Burt put a hand on her shoulder to let her know she was right. Daisy felt the shell again, head cocked to one side as if she were listening to the flat shell. “It has a design on it, like a...flower?”

“Yes, it does, honey,” Burt said, letting her explore it until she decided to ask him what it was.

“Oh, and a teeny hole on the bottom,” she said. “It isn't alive, is it?”

“No, Daisy, it isn't. This is just a shell with no creature inside.”

“Okay.” Daisy didn't like to take any living animal from its home in the ocean, only shells from ones that were gone. She had such a loving heart.

As the little girl explored the shell she found they were joined by another child, this one about eight years old with sandy chestnut hair, a smattering of freckles across his little nose, and beautiful blue eyes.

“Hey, Daisy, where did you find the sand dollar? I love those,” the boy said. Burt smiled, proud of how sweet and tender Kurt was with his little sister. It had never bothered him that she didn't have eyes, he thought she was beautiful and loved her with all his heart.

“Can we put it in my bucket?” Daisy asked.

“Sure, but let me wrap it in my handkerchief so it doesn't get broken. Its delicate,” Kurt said, helping his little sister to wrap her shell carefully.

They walked further down the beach and Burt stopped by a large log of driftwood to sit for a while and put a bit more sunscreen on his two children. He couldn't let them get sunburned.

“Oh! Come here, Daisy! I found something you might like,” Kurt said and his sister felt her way to his side. He helped guide her hands just a bit until she encountered what she thought at first was a shell. Kurt was grinning from ear to ear as she touched the object again, slowly picking it up and feeling it. There was no hole for a creature to get inside, and it was smooth as glass. Oh.

“Kurtie, this isn't a shell,” she said.

“I never said it was. I just said you'd like it,” Kurt gently teased.

“Daddy, it's a . . . a ball?” Daisy asked, turning her head to her father to ask.

“Sort of. It's a glass float for a fishing net. Fishermen use them to float the edges of their nets. It's made of blown glass, with the air sealed in to keep it floating on the water,” Burt explained as his daughter felt all over the sphere. Her busy fingers found the raised bit where the glassblower had made the seal at the end and she smiled. Daisy had always loved to feel textures.

After putting the glass float in the bucket, they walked on and saw someone walking towards them along the beach.

Daisy was sitting in the coarse sand, picking through it to find what she loved the best about going to the beach. It was small pieces of clamshells tiny and worn smooth from the years of water bashing them about in the sea. She loved to put these in a bowl and just sit for an hour at a time feeling the textures of each shell piece. Burt kept them in a jar for her and poured them into a big mixing bowl when she wanted to feel them.

Kurt was sitting with her, helping to find the small white pieces in the sand when they were joined by the person walking down the beach. Burt looked up and it was his first wife, Elizabeth. He was overjoyed to see her and gathered her in his arms.

“Mommy!” Kurt shouted and the woman picked up the slim boy and kissed his forehead. His smile was dazzling.

“Elizabeth, so good to see you,” Burt said and kissed her lips.

“Burt, my love. I've come to take Daisy with me.”

He looked at her face, remembering how much in love they were all their married lives.

“Okay, but can I say goodbye?” he asked, knowing he had no say in keeping Daisy with him.

She nodded and Burt scooped the small girl into his arms and hugged her.

“I love you, baby girl. I know you'll be happy with Mama Elizabeth.” He kissed her cheek and the girl clung to him. “It's okay, baby, it's okay....”

Kurt ran to his sister and put his arms around her.

“Can I go with Mama, too?” he asked, but Burt took the boy into his arms and held him tightly.

“No, Kurt. I need you to stay with me for now. Let's go find more shells on the beach,” he coaxed. Kurt turned to look for shells under the seaweed and Burt kissed Daisy one more time.

“Can I see her again, Elizabeth?”

“Of course, my love. We'll come visit you often, I promise.”

And she left, holding Daisy close in her arms as they walked down the beach together.

 

 

~*~ KATURA'S DREAM ~*~

 

It was dark outside, but Katura didn't feel scared. The dog was with her, and the mule ~ her favorite, Maximus. She wanted to ride on him but he was so tall and she was too short to reach. She'd have to climb up on something.

Balto, come!” she called to the dog and he followed her to the top of the meadow at the house on Warner Mountain. Katie loved that house with the magical princess castle her daddy had painted for her on her bedroom walls. Leaving the fenced meadow, she found herself in the land of her castle. Maximus was suddenly wearing a decorated saddle like the fancy ones in a fairy tale and the wolf-dog was huge and fearsome with his spiked collar. Several knights rode near her, guarding her but not intruding on her.

She found herself in a dense forest, but not like the one on the mountain. There were no pine trees, only yews and hornbeams, copper beeches and huge oaks. She knew she was no longer in Oregon. The whole place was different. She felt as if a million eyes were on her.

Looking around, Katie could only see little animals, curious faces peeking from behind oak leaves. She smiled and waved at the little creatures.

As she rode along, the mule turned into a beautiful stallion, shining silvery-white with a long mane and flowing tail. It was still her beloved Maximus but he'd somehow evolved. The satiny blanket and reins were a deep blue with bright white accents and her dress was now shades of pink with long sleeves and a pointed hat with a sheer swath of fabric attached to the point and blowing in the breeze.

Maxi jumped from an outcropping of rocks and landed on the bank of the stream below where trout and salmon jumped in the sunlight.

Katie was hungry and stopped to eat, finding a blanket and food in the saddlebags. She tried signaling for her guardian knights to come join her, but they shook their heads and waited, alert to any danger.

Katura ate alone, sipping some sort of bubbly, sweet drink from a crystal goblet and eating all manner of sweets and savory delights: Scotch eggs made with spicy sausage and a selection of cheeses on fresh baked thin crackers. There were tiny sandwiches with tomatoes and cheese or turkey and bacon. Katie ate a lot, ending up with little tarts containing berries and apples. She'd eaten a lot but didn't feel especially full. There seemed to be a lot left over, so she packed it all back up in the saddle bag and got back on Maximus to ride on.

Next she found herself climbing the steep side of a mountain, getting off the horse even though he seemed not to strain at all going up the rocks. He clung to them like a mountain goat. At the top of the mountain she could see all the way to the sea and wondered who lived in the castle that was on an island at the edge of the bay. It had a slim causeway to get there and Katie somehow knew it was her castle and that was where she was headed.

It seemed to take a long time, days even, to reach the castle. She urged Maximus along the causeway while the knights rode far behind her. She knew where to guide Maxi to get him to the back door of the castle and Katie produced a key from her pocket to open the huge metal gates in the portcullis, and another to open the oak doors. The gates crashed to the ground and the doors slammed closed behind her, shaking the very ground under her feet.

Daddy! Tatay! I'm home! Where are you?” she called, but no one answered.

Jordaaaaan!” she screeched, but once again there was no answer. “Mitzi?”

The cold and silent castle seemed to lean in around her and she was frightened, thinking it would now crumble and fall on her, too.

Grandpa Burt? Grandma Carol?” she called. “Uncle Cooper? Uncle August?”

Still the castle courtyard was quiet except for Maximus stamping his feet and the wolf-dog, Balto, barking. Why was Balto here instead of Scout and Lucy? Old grumpy Balto had died when Katie was just a young child. So had Maximus. What was going on? Katura started to get scared. This made no sense. She felt her saddle start to lurch and found herself on the ground, the big mule/horse now a pile of ashes. A strange dog was was sniffing the pile of ashes where just a minute ago Balto had been standing.

Jordan!” she shouted again. If anyone was here she felt it had to be her brother. She was closer to her twin than to anyone else.

 

Someone was suddenly there, shaking her and she was so scared she had to scream.

Ahhhhhh!”

Katie, Katie, wake up. It's me, Jordan. Wake up, you're having a nightmare,” her brother said, putting his arms around her.

Jordan?” Katie asked as she opened her eyes and hugged Jordy back.

Yes, I did...it was awful. You weren't there...” she sobbed.

Oh, Katie, I'll always be there. Now, scootch over and I'll stay with you the rest of the night. Okay?” he offered.

Yeah, that would be nice,” Katie said. They might bicker from time to time, as all siblings did, but both knew who their best friend was. Jordan hugged his sister again and turned over to get some sleep.

 

~*~ MITZI'S DREAM ~*~

 

It was dark and Mitzi felt hungry. Her chest hurt. She wanted to be held, but she was in this plastic box with all the hoses, tubes, wires, and loud machines around her. Mitzi did the only thing she could – she cried and kicked her feet. She couldn't feel it but some of those wires and tubes were connected to her. She took a big breath and that made an alarm go off too close to her ears, which made her cry harder.

From somewhere beyond her little nest in the blankets came The Man.

He came sometimes when the alarms went off and Mitzi liked him better than the women who came to tend to her. He smelled good. The women smelled light and flowery and only held her gently for short moments at a time as they adjusted and checked her over.

The Man held her close and cuddled her against his warm body covered in a soft material. He rocked her for hours – and smelled like warmth and love.

He turned off the alarm and picked her up, careful that none of the wires or tubes pulled at her or pinched her. He whistled a lot and Mitzi liked the sound. He took off her wet diaper and she cried as the cold air hit her skin.

Hey, now, girlfriend, I'll get you clean and dry and back in a diaper. Just hang on a minute,” he said, smiling down at the baby. She liked his face when he made that happy smile at her.

Bundled back in the warm blanket, The Man cuddled her next to his body, sitting in the chair that rocked. He talked to her the whole time and Mitzi loved to hear his voice and loved the feeling of being rocked back and forth.

Next came the nipple, right into her mouth and she drank, sucking the warm liquid. It made her tummy feel better, but her chest still hurt. The Man called to someone as Mitzi squirmed to get away from the pain. The woman came and did something with the tubes, and it began to feel better. When the nurse left, The Man sang to Mitzi in his deep voice that she could not only hear but she could also feel through his chest as he held her in his arms.

Mitzi snuggled closer to the warm flannel and closed her eyes. She loved The Man.

 

~*~ KURT'S DREAM ~*~

 

Kurt hurried to bring the right garden tools from the shed. He couldn't remember the name of the little shovel, but he knew they needed it to dig the holes for the flowers.

In the garden in the back yard, under the shade of the big honey locust tree, Kurt's daddy had made the bench. Kurt had helped, sanding the pieces of wood his daddy had cut with the big saw. Daddy showed Kurt how to use the rough sandpaper that was put around a block to finish the wood. When each piece of the bench was smooth from sanding, Daddy showed Kurt the plans he'd drawn and they fit it all together with wooden pegs that Daddy pounded in with a funny hammer called a mallet.

Now the bench was under the tree and Mommy was going to plant some flowers to make it even more pretty.

What kind of flowers are we planting?” Kurt asked.

These are called bulbs and next spring they will grow into daffodils, tulips, and grape hyacinths,” Mommy told him. She showed him the pictures on the packages the bulbs came in and Kurt smiled at the yellow, red, and purple flowers. They were going to look nice next to the bench.

Remember going to the plant nursery with me yesterday?” she asked.

Yes, Mommy. You and I picked the prettiest flowers, right?” he asked and she gave him a bright smile.

Yes, we did. I was so lucky to have you with me to pick them! I couldn't decide and there you were to help me. I must be the luckiest mommy in the whole world,” she said, pulling Kurt into her arms. He smiled as she did, smelling the perfume he had helped Daddy pick out to give her for Mother's Day. It was called 'Rain', but it didn't smell like rain. Grown-ups were funny sometimes.

I can go get the flowers! Daddy put them by the fence last night. I can carry them!” Kurt crowed, happy to think of a way to help his mother.

Oh, that would be a big help, sweetie,” she said and sat back on the knee-pad she used when gardening. It was blue and Kurt had a green one just like it. They had matching gardening gloves to keep their hands clean, too.

Kurt ran as fast as he could to the other end of the yard and picked up a flat of flowers. It seemed almost too heavy and he slowed down to balance it. Thinking it might be better if he took two of the six-packs of plants out and carried them first, then came back for more, he set the flat down.

Hey, Tiger. Can I help you?” his daddy asked.

I can't take the whole flat, I might drop them,” he said, distressed.

How about you carry this pot and I take the flat?” Burt offered. Kurt jumped at the chance.

Okay, Daddy,” he said, holding out his hands for the pot of geraniums. Burt took the flat of brightly colored flowers and followed his seven year old son across the grass to Elizabeth.

You tired, honey?” he asked her, concern showing on his face.

No, I want to get this done, then I promise I will lie down for a while,” she smiled up at her husband.

Kurt picked up a trowel and started digging.

Here, Mommy? Shall I plant the pink ones here?”

Let's look at the map you drew,” Elizabeth said, taking the paper from her pocket and smoothing it out on the grass. She and Kurt looked it over and put little markers in the ground as they planned the garden.

Mommy and Kurt dug places to put all the flowers: petunias, pansies, marigolds and geraniums in the sunny places. They put shade loving lily-of-the-valley and periwinkles under the honey locust tree.

There, done!” said Elizabeth with a big sigh.

Done!” Kurt echoed, smiling up at his mother.

---

Sometime later, Burt was recruited to bring a table to the back yard along with two chairs and put them next to the new bench. There were now cushions on the bench and an afghan.

Kurt brought out one of his mother's pretty embroidered tablecloths and he spread that out as neatly as he could.

Plates, silverware, napkins in rings, glasses, and tea cups came next. He went back in to be sure his bow tie was straight and the tiny petit-four cakes were on the fancy serving plate. He had made lemonade with his father, putting in just a half-cup of crushed strawberries to make it pink.

When everything was perfect, Daddy carried Mommy out to the bench and set her down carefully on the cushions, tucking the afghan in around her.

Oh, Kurt! What have you made for us?” she asked, picking up a tiny finger-sandwich with thinly sliced cucumbers and cream cheese. Daddy had helped him cut sticks of carrots, bell peppers, and celery. There were boiled shrimp on ice with sauce to dip them in.

It's a party! Just like the Queen of England has, Mommy,” Kurt explained.

Oh, I bet ours is better,” she claimed, smiling at her son.

Kurt put several more sandwiches and some shrimp on his mother's plate but she didn't eat them.

I'm saving a place for dessert,” she said when he asked her.

She drank the lemonade with her lunchtime pills and ate two petits-fours, one white with a pink frosting rosebud and the other a dark chocolate one with a curl of candied orange peel decorating the top.

These are so delicious. I love you, Kurt.” Mommy smiled at him and Kurt smiled back.

When they were done, Mommy fell asleep on the bench and Daddy carried her back to her bed.

---

Kurt was sitting on Mommy's bed, right beside her as she sat, propped up by a lot of pillows.

Look out the window, Mommy! The bulbs are growing!” Kurt shouted, pointing at the spring garden they could see from the window.

Oh, yes, baby. I see the yellows and reds...oh, and the tiny purple grape hyacinths, too.” Elizabeth said, running out of breath at the end. She turned her head to see what her son was pointing at.

Don't let your puppy dig them up now,” she warned. Burt had surprised Kurt with a puppy for his birthday so he'd have a comfort when Elizabeth wasn't here any more. It might be a poor substitute, but she knew the young boy would need unconditional love in the times ahead.

No, Daddy made a fence for the garden. Annie won't get in the garden,” he said. He'd named the little Kerry blue terrier 'Annie' after the English princess royal.

Elizabeth made a big effort to stay awake and talk to Kurt, but she was so sleepy. She took his hand and kissed his cheek before she closed her eyes.

I love you, Mommy,” were the last words she heard from Kurt.

Yes, I love you, too, my Lizzie,” Burt said, sitting beside the bed and holding her other hand.

---

Kurt sat on the bench in the garden. His father had been busy in the workshop behind the garage for several hours after the funeral. He came out and took Kurt's small hand, leading him to the garden and over to the bench they had made together.

He drilled two holes in the bench to match two in the piece of wood he'd been working on.

Kurt, you can pound in the wooden pegs, okay?” Burt offered, holding out the mallet. Kurt took it and tried his best to do the job, but the pegs were stubborn and the mallet was heavy. Burt took his hand and helped him wrap it around the handle, then added his strength to the task. They soon had the plaque attached to the bench.

In Loving Memory of Elizabeth Hummel”

said the carved wooden plaque. Kurt ran his fingers along each letter, reading it over and over again. He looked at the flowers he had planted with his mother and missed her, like a giant ache in his side.

I'm going inside, buddy. I'll call you for lunch,” Burt said, wiping his eyes on his handkerchief. Annie came over and whined for Kurt to pick her up. He lifted her up and then petted the dog as she sat beside him on the bench. He loved the feel of her curly hair under his fingers. It was comfort to him.

Kurt?” a voice said and he turned to see his mother sitting beside him on the bench.

Mommy?”

Yes, my sweet boy. I want you to know that even though I'm dead now, I am still here, looking out for you. I will always be here, Kurt.”

He looked at the woman, his critical eye searching for anything that would make this a lie, that it wasn't his mother, but it was. He leaned in to her and her arms went around him. She even smelled like her perfume he'd given her for Mother's Day.

Mommy . . . “ he sighed and closed his eyes. All he could feel was her love, surrounding him, holding him up. He laid his head on her shoulder as he's always done when he needed her love, his fingers combing through Annie's curls to complete the comfort. And he knew he was loved.


Kurt? Babe? Are you okay?” Blaine's voice came through the fog in Kurt's mind.

Yeah, I'm fine. I was just dreaming,” he said, turning to fit his body closer to his husband. Blaine's arms went around him automatically, sniffing the scent of the cologne that Kurt always wore, 'Rain' by Marc Jacobs.

I was, too. Do you want a cup of hot chocolate?” Blaine asked.

Yeah, that sounds good. I'll go get Mitzi – I think I hear her fussing. We can rock her back to sleep. I'll meet you downstairs.

Blaine leaned in and gave Kurt a sweet kiss on his lips before they got up to find their robes and slippers.

 

 

Chapter Text

Return to Glory – Chapter Sixteen – Rocky Mountain High

Grab a chance and you won't be sorry for a might-have-been.
~Arthur Ransome, We Didn't Mean to Go To Sea

 

June
Sky Above Colorado

“Are those the mountains? Like Mt Rainier?” Jordan asked as he looked out the window of the plane.
“No, it's more like our mountain, silly,” Katura corrected her brother.
“No, we don't have that much snow on Mt Russell – our flowers were up and the grass in the meadow was greener,” Jordan said, not wanting to argue but knowing he was right.
“Wait, wait,” said Blaine, sitting on the aisle seat in back of the twins. “It is very much like both our mountain and like Mt Ranier. There are differences, though. Remember how we talked about the way mountains are formed? That the Rockies were formed by plate tectonic movement and the Cascades were volcanic?”
“Are we having school now? It's vacation I thought,” Katie said, pouting.
“Now, Katie-girl, behave yourself, please,” Kurt said, rocking Mitzi in her car seat.
“Sorry, Tatay,” she apologized to her other father.
“Let's just enjoy the scenery, we're going to land in Denver soon,” Blaine told the children. “Look! See the big white tent over there? That is actually Denver International Airport. Get your belts buckled,” he told them, then buckled his own and double checked Mitzi's car seat. The baby was sleeping, thank the stars. She had been fussy nearly the whole way there. Not really crying but whining and reluctant to take the bottle Kurt was trying to comfort her with. Blaine suspected it was her ears and the altitude, so he held her close to his chest and put his warm hand over her other ear for a while and she fell asleep.
~
Walking towards the trains at the airport, Kurt pushed the baby in her stroller and each of the others pulled their carry-on luggage behind them. They entered the train and Blaine told them to hold on tight, the train was very fast. It sped down the track to the main part of the airport and the twins' eyes got huge as they clung to the posts.
The train slowed and the doors snapped open.
“Okay, kids. Just step out and we'll go get our luggage,” Kurt directed and he joined Blaine and the kids in the exodus to the luggage pick-up station.
As soon as they had luggage in hand and they stepped out into the main part of the airport, a large man grabbed Kurt and swung him around in a circle. Blaine grinned as Dave Karofsky put him down and smiled at the rest of the family.
“You made it!”
“Yes, it was so much fun, watching the lakes and mountains all over the ground,” Katie said, caught up in the good feelings.
“Well, welcome to Colorful Colorado!” Dave said, taking some of the suitcases from Blaine and peeking into the stroller. “She's sleeping? In this noise?” Dave laughed.
“She had an exciting day,” Kurt said, looking down at his youngest daughter. He glimpsed a small boy looking out from behind a post near them. As soon as he made eye contact, the boy slipped back behind the post.
“Did you bring anyone with you to pick us up?” Kurt asked, nodding towards the jacket that could be seen from the edge of the post.
“Yes, I brought my son, Freddy, but I don't see him now. I wonder where he's gone?” Dave said, serious faced.
“I'm here, Dad,” said the boy, coming out from in back of the pillar to stand behind his father, shielded from the visitors.
“Hello, Freddy, it's good to meet you,” Blaine offered, holding out a hand to shake. Dave nudged his son and Freddy came out and shook politely.
“Hi, Freddy. These are our children, Katie, Jordan, and in the stroller is Mitzi,” Kurt introduced his family. “This is my husband, Blaine, and I am Kurt.”
Freddy nodded at each person and then stood closer to his father, taking Dave's hand.
“Let's get to the car then,” Dave suggested and led the way.

Sitting in Dave's SUV, Katie held up their plane ticket stubs to read their itinerary.
“Tatay, why does it take over three hours to go from Eugene, Oregon to Denver, Colorado - but only a little over an hour from Denver back to Eugene?” she asked.
Blaine smiled and looked at Dave and Kurt.
“Well, Princess, I'm going to let you think about that. If you give it enough thought, I bet you can come up with the answer, okay?” Blaine answered.
Katie rolled her eyes and mumbled something to her brother about 'does everything turn into a lesson for school?'.
She was quiet, whispering back and forth with Jordan and Freddy.
Did it have something to do with wind? The curve of the Earth? Altitude? The kids were busy for almost ten minutes until Jordan suddenly grinned. He whispered quickly to his sister and her eyes sparkled.
“It's to do with the time difference, doesn't it? When it's two o'clock in Oregon, it's three o'clock in Denver. So, if it takes two hours to fly from Eugene to Denver, it looks like three because you gain an hour because of the time zone. Going back you lose an hour. Right?”
“Right, my sweet, smart daughter,” Blaine praised his daughter.
“It was Freddy and Jordy, too,” she said, needing her brother and new friend to get the credit due them.

They rode for hours along the road to Aspen, watching as little clumps of flowers grew beside the road and views of snowy mountains showed in the background. By the time they reached Breckenridge, all four of the children were fast asleep.
“This is a beautiful little town,” Kurt said, “Like it was lost in time.” Kurt looked around seeing gabled houses and some that resembled Swiss chalets towards the mountain. There were paths going out of the town along mountain scenery and in the background were ski slopes.
“It just looks so quaint . . . “
“Until you see the 7-11,” Blaine murmured. Dave laughed.
“It's a ski town, but they have hiking trails and things to do in the summer, too,” he said.
They got some drinks and snacks, woke the kids up to use the restrooms, and got back on the road.
“Aspen is a ski town, too, isn't it?” Blaine asked.
“Mostly. It started as a mining town when the Smuggler Mine was founded in the 1870s. Silver was a big reason most people moved to Colorado back then. After the price of silver dropped, people moved away and the population dwindled to almost nothing until the 1930s when skiing became popular and a few more folks moved in.
“In the 1950s, Aspen hosted some big international ski championships and invited stars from Hollywood.
“Why do people go there now, in spite of the highest real estate prices in the US? A lot of celebrities live there so people go to see if they can spot them,” he said. “It's funny, Aspen was a sleepy little town for years and years, then some artists moved there and back in the day a few famous people moved there – James Arness and Gary Cooper lived there in the 1950s.”
“Is skiing all that draws people to Aspen? And the famous rich people, too,” Kurt asked.
“No, there's the Aspen Music Festival and School, that's a big draw. There are a few international film festivals, art galleries, things like that. Most of the workers can't even afford to live there where the median price for a two bedroom house exceeds five million dollars,” Dave told them, rolling his eyes.
“So, if you don't mind me asking – how do you afford to live here?” Kurt asked.
“We don't live in Aspen. Our clinic is there. Philip grew up in Aspen and Snowmass, the next town over. His folks had several houses, one on Owl Creek Road back when Snowmass was a working ranch called Brush Creek. His mother owned a florist shop in Aspen and that's where our clinic is now. Phil inherited the properties when his folks passed ten years ago,” Dave explained. “We pay taxes, but otherwise the building is ours,” Dave explained.
“Good deal, then,” Blaine said.

They drove along in silence for a while, watching out the windows at the breathtaking scenery. An hour outside Aspen, Kurt started sniffing the air with a disgusted look on his face.
“What on Earth is that stench?” he asked as the children quickly rolled up their windows.
“Oh, the rotten eggs? That's Glenwood Springs. They have a mineral hot spring in the middle of town. Its a big tourist destination. The swimming pool is 93 degrees, and the therapy pool, which smells worse, and is 104 degrees. The rotten egg smell is sulfur from the geothermal activity that makes the hot springs. It's been here since the Ute Indians used it for healing purposes before the Europeans came. We can come visit if you like?” Dave offered.
“Ah, no thank you,” Kurt said and Dave laughed.
“I don't blame you. I am not a fan of the smell, either, and the therapy pool is just too hot for me.”

After a short time on winding roads, they came to a driveway outside of a small town drove up to an older brick home and Dave parked in the drive.
“I'll show you my room,” Freddy offered, finally smiling at the twins. He was a year younger but taller than either of them. He had red hair and a smattering of freckles across his nose. Kurt smiled at him, thinking he was a really cute kid.
“Phil will be home in a short while, he had a full schedule today and it takes a while to drive home from Aspen. In the mean time, I can set you up in the guest rooms. Jordan, would you rather share with Freddy or with your sister?”
Jordan looked over at Freddy with a question on his face. Freddy smiled and nodded his head.
“With Freddy, please,” Jordan said, his eyes sparkling.
“Okay, everyone get your luggage and we'll just go up these stairs,” Dave directed and showed Katie and then Kurt and Blaine to their rooms. “We borrowed a crib for Mitzi from a friend.”
That brought smiles from Kurt and Blaine, hugging the tiny girl as they followed Dave to their guest room.
“I'll leave you to unpack and tidy up then. There's an en suite through that door,” he pointed out to the men and then showed Katura where the bathroom was in the hall adjacent to her room.
“Just get comfortable and come down to the living room when you're ready. I'm going to start dinner,” Dave called, going downstairs.
~
They were all seated in the large room adjacent to the kitchen when keys were heard in the door.
“Hello?” a voice sounded from down the hallway and a small man came into the family room.
“Phil! I want to introduce you to Kurt, Blaine, Katie, and Jordan. Little Mitzi is asleep upstairs in the guest room, but you'll meet her later,” Dave said, sounding nervous. He turned to their guests. “And this is my husband, Dr. Phil Nelson.”
“Please call me Phil,” the man grinned, shaking hands with everyone.
“Supper is almost ready,” Dave said and went back to stir things on the stove.
“I hope your trip was pleasant?” Phil asked, sitting down on a loveseat facing the sofa where Kurt and Blaine were sitting. Freddy and the twins were playing a game at the table.
“It was good – no turbulence. Mitzi got an earache, but she seems better now that she's on the ground,” Kurt said just as a noise came from the hallway.
“Speaking of our youngest, I better go see to her,” Blaine said, getting up to go attend to Mitzi.
A few minutes later he reappeared, a newly-cleaned and smiling baby in his arms.
“Oh, look at her!” Phil said, smiling up at the baby.
“She is happy now – she must be feeling better after the plane ride,” Kurt said, holding his arms out to take his daughter from Blaine.
“I think she's hungry, too,” Blaine mentioned as he took her bottle to the kitchen to warm it a bit.
“Kids, you need to clean up the Monopoly game, we need to set the table for supper,” Phil said and the kids put the pieces back in the box. Freddy set the table while Katie went to see if she could help with anything in the kitchen and Jordan folded napkins.
“What's for supper?” Phil asked, “It smells delicious.”
“Leg of lamb, fresh spinach salad, green beans with almonds, and mashed potatoes,” Dave said, taking the lamb joint out of the oven to rest before mealtime.
“Can I help?” Kurt asked, strolling into the kitchen.
“Would you mash the potatoes?” Dave asked, handing him the drained spuds and a masher. Kurt went to work doing that while Blaine sat on the sofa feeding Mitzi.

After supper, the whole bunch played another game of Monopoly, but this version was of Colorado instead of the traditional Atlantic City.
“I want to be the bicycle!” called Katie.
“Okay, if I get to be the gold nugget,” Freddy put in, then glanced at Jordan. “Unless you do?” he asked politely.
“No, I was thinking I want to be the pine tree?”
“That leaves the dog for me,”grinned Blaine and Kurt took the iron.
“Ski boot or in-line skate?” Dave asked his husband.
“I'll be the boot,” Phil smiled, giving his husband a kiss to his cheek.

The game lasted over an hour with Kurt as the winner when he finally took all of Phil's money as he landed on the Garden of the Gods square.
Freddy and Katie were sound asleep on the sofa and loveseat, having been beaten early on in the game. Jordan was holding Mitzi – who was likewise asleep in his lap.
“I guess we better get these little ones off to bed,” Blaine said, reaching over to wake his older daughter.
“That was fun, thank you for the great evening,” Kurt said, giving Dave a quick hug before lifting Mitzi out of Jordan's lap and heading to bed.

“If you're up to it, we have several things we could do tomorrow. We'll leave the final decision up to you,” Dave said, picking Freddy up to take him to bed.
“Sounds great. Good night,” Blaine answered, a smile on his face.

 

“Okay, we can just walk around Aspen today, see the park and stores, or we could go for a hike? There are a lot of things we could do – rent in-line skates, drive to Glenwood Canyon and take the Fairy Cave tour?” Dave told them over breakfast.
“Fairy Cave?” the twins said in unison. Freddy grinned.
“Yes, it's a cave that has phosphorescent rocks and lots of stalactites and stalagmites. Its a lot of fun,” Phil said.
“It's about 45 minutes, a walking tour of the cave. Does that sound good?” Dave asked and got a hearty round of approval.
~
The entrance to the cave looked a bit ordinary and the tour guide told them about the history of the cave, which started with guided tours in the late 1800s. Mitzi was in her carrier on Kurt's back, having been fed and changed just before they came. She was awake and happily playing in Kurt's hair.
The kids all gasped as they entered the first 'room' in the cave and the lights went out. Rocks glowed with other-wordly colors of phosphorescent rocks in a rainbow of colors. They all loved it as each new room showed them a different aspect of the cave. In the 'cloud room', the ceiling was made of calcite that did, indeed, resemble clouds.
They followed the tour guide, sometimes going up steps to the next section of the cave and once exiting to 'Exclamation Point' to see a panoramic view of Glenwood Canyon and the city of Glenwood Springs. There were rooms with reflecting ponds, and one with 'popcorn' covered stalactites, and a room to see the huge underground canyon.
“Did you like it?” Phil asked after they'd all gathered together to have their picture taken after the tour.
“I loved it!” Katie crowed, her joy showing on her face.
“I did, too,” Jordan said, smiling.
“Thank you, Dr. Phil and Mr. Karofsky,” Katie remembered to say and Jordan echoed.
“Please, call us Dave and Phil, and you are very welcome,” Dave smiled back at the twins.
“Yes, thank you so much, that was a lot of fun,” Blaine said.
“We've thought of several more things for the week, but for now how about lunch and then home to rest?” Dave asked and they piled into his SUV, off to a restaurant in Glenwood Springs.

“Are you sure I can't tempt you to take a swim in the mineral springs?” Phil asked, not surprised when his offer was turned down. Rotten egg smell wasn't a good odor and some people couldn't get past it to enjoy the hot springs. Phil had grown up here and was used to the smell, but Dave still hated it even after all these years.
“Then how about a hike down the Roaring Fork river? We could fish for trout – Dave tells me you like to fish?” Phil offered. “But maybe you do enough of that at home. How about a hike to see Maroon Bells tomorrow?”
“That sounds wonderful,” Blaine interjected. He'd always wanted to see and photograph that mountain.
“Sounds like a plan,” Dave grinned. He loved hiking up to Maroon Bells...or anywhere for that matter.

And so the week progressed: they hiked all over, went shopping in Aspen, had a picnic in a mountain meadow, played putt-putt golf, and even went on a sunrise balloon ride over the Elk Mountains. By the end of the week everyone was tired.
“Can we just stay home and play board games today?” Jordan asked.
“Sure. I'm kind of tired myself. What will it be today? Clue, Life, Settlers of Cataan?” Dave asked.
“Oh, I've always wanted to play Settlers of Cataan!” Blaine said, excited.
The adults played that while the kids played another Monopoly game. They just stayed home at Dave and Phil's house, sitting around talking and playing games, and having a great time. All of the activities were fun, but this was exactly what they needed.
After lunch, Dave invited the kids out in the back yard where there was a fast-running stream at the rear of the property. He had a stack of what looked like over-sized pie plates in his hands and gave each person one. Blaine went with them while Kurt was rocking Mitzi after her lunch. Phil stayed in with Kurt to keep him company.
“Okay, does everyone have a pan?” Dave asked as he walked down to the stream. He knelt down by the river and scooped a bit of the gravel into his pan.
“This is Brush Creek. One of the reasons people settled near here was gold. There was a rich vein running through the mountains above Aspen and some of it can still be found in the streams. I'll teach you how to pan for gold and we might find some today,” he said, smiling at the eager faces of the twins and Blaine.
“You scoop a bit of the sand and gravel from the bottom of the creek and swirl the contents of the pan in the water and wait for the heavier things to settle to the bottom of the pan, like this.” Dave demonstrated how to do this, swirling the bit of sediment in his pan. When he was done there was a bit of dark sand in the bottom.
“This is magnetite sand and it's a good sign. Here, see how I dump the lighter gravel and stuff out of the pan and I'm left with the denser stuff,” he showed them. “Gold is very dense.”
All of the others followed Dave's example. They had various amounts of the black sand in the bottom of their pans.
“Now, swirl this around and you can see tiny flecks of gold. Look, Jordie, you have some right there!” Dave enthused, showing the boy the bitty flecks at the bottom of his pan.
“That's gold? Real gold?” Jordan asked, his eyes wide.
“Yes, sir, it is. Wait, I have a tiny bottle for each of you to save your gold. Here, you do it like this...” he said, showing Jordan how to gently coax the gold into the bottle.
“Oh! I found a big piece!” Katie shouted, holding up a nugget that shined in the sun.
“Oh, Katie, I'm sorry. That isn't gold. It's iron pyrite – what is called 'fool's gold'. It doesn't mean you are foolish, sweet girl, just a name because it fooled many people during the Gold Rush. It shines like gold, huh?” Dave said.
“Yeah, it does. Can I keep it anyway?” she asked, almost shy. She wasn't happy that she had been fooled by the shiny mineral.
“Of course you can,” Dave told her, smiling at the young girl. He loved his son, but maybe he and Phil could adopt a girl one day?
They panned for gold for over an hour, each finding tiny bits of the shiny material before going back in the house with their little vials of gold to show Kurt and Phil.
“Oh, sweetie, are you going to support me in my old age?” Kurt asked Jordan, teasing the boy.
“But Daddy, I thought you were loaded?” Jordan said, his eyes getting wide again.
Kurt laughed.
“Where did you hear that?”
“All the kids at school used to tease me about it. They called me 'Prince Jordan' because you had so much money. Is that true? Do you have enough money to buy anything?”
“Well, Jordan, that's a matter of opinion. Yes, we are part owners of the Anderson-Warner Lumber Company. Does that mean we're rich? I guess it depends on what you consider rich. I'll tell you what I think and see if you don't agree with me.
“Blaine, help me out here. Yes, we can probably buy just about anything we would want. Any material thing. But something else makes us richer. We have family and friends – and any one of those people is worth more than all money in the whole world.” Kurt said, his husband walking up in back of him to place arms around him.
“That's right, Jordie. Wouldn't you rather have Grandpa Burt instead of thousands of dollars? Or Auntie Rachel, or your cousin, Adele?” Blaine asked, his face serious.
“Yes, Tatay, I guess I would. But we could have a Lamborghini and Grandpa Burt?” Jordan asked, his face innocent of any guile.
“I suppose we could, but where would we drive it? I'm pretty sure the suspension wouldn't last on the dirt road up to our house. I think we'd be better off buying a new feller buncher for the lumber business than a fancy sports car, don't you think?” Blaine laughed.
“Yeah, I guess so.” Jordan sighed. He could think of a hundred things he'd love to buy.

~~
Their last day in Colorado was spent in Denver, shopping in Cherry Creek Mall where they had heard of a great toy store called The Wizard's Chest. They walked through several stores, looking at toys and games that the kids might like. Then on to Timbuk Toys, Second Star to the Right Children's Books, and finally to Colpar's Hobbytown to buy some models for the twins to work on at home.
For their last stop, Kurt and Blaine took everyone to the Build-A-Bear to make a teddy bear for their own. Freddy laughed through the whole thing, choosing a lion to build. Katie got a bunny and Jordan got a bear while Kurt and Blaine got a kitty for Mitzi. They had a lot of fun and everyone was tired as they took the Anderson-Hummels to the airport.

“Dave, this was so much fun. Thank you for inviting us to such a wonderful week of vacation and especially all the love you and Phil put into it for us. We'll never forget it. Next year you should come to Oregon and stay with us?” Kurt said, sad to be leaving such good friends.
“It was such a pleasure to have you come here, and yes, we'll plan a trip to your neck of the woods, I promise,” Dave said, giving both Blaine and Kurt a big hug. Phil shook their hands and invited them to come stay again. The twins said goodbye to their new friend, Freddy, and it was time to go.
“Good bye! Good bye!” they called as they got in line to go through the security check and on to the concourse.

Chapter Text

Return to Glory – Chapter Seventeen – Back to the Start

 

“It's no use to go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.”

~Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

 


Carol and Burt drove up the mountain in their SUV. Blaine and Kurt were seated with Mitzi on the bench seat behind them, Katura and Jordan in the way back in between the luggage.

“I had a really good time in Colorado, Daddy,” Jordan said, curled in his seat and looking up from the book he was reading. He had his Build-a-Bear in his arms and Katie was holding her Bunny. After not being able to use his internet on his tablet for so long, Jordy had discovered that he loved reading and could be found at almost any time of day with his nose in a book.

Katie liked to read, too, but she was more of an athletic type and had to be moving. She was the fastest runner in her class back in Philomath and kept up practicing by running in the meadow. She wanted to learn to box as soon as she found out her tatay had been a boxer, but Blaine was unwilling to train her. He knew Kurt's objection to the sport and hadn't put on a pair of gloves since he won his last fight about fifteen years ago.

They were just driving into the loop driveway around the house when they heard the dogs barking. Lucy and Scout came from across the meadow, running as fast as they could while still barking.

Lucy, heavy with puppies, was waddling more than she was running and Scout was slowing down to check on her every twenty steps or so.

Kitty came out of her little house across the road with a big smile on her face.

“I knew it was you, the dogs have been barking for ten minutes,” she said, opening the door for Carol.

“Thank you, dear,” Carol said, stepping down and looking around her. She missed spring on Mt Russell last year since she'd been in New York with Finn and Rachel.

The twins got out, running with the dogs in a big, wide circle before coming back to take suitcases into the house.

“Here, Carol, if you want to take Mitzi, I can help get the SUV unpacked,” Kurt offered.

“Oh, you don't have to twist my arm!” Carol kidded. She took the baby and walked inside, sitting down in a rocking chair in the large room off the kitchen to rock Mitzi to sleep.

Burt had picked up Kurt, Blaine, and the kids from the airport yesterday and Mitzi had been taken to her appointment with her pediatrician. The baby girl was doing just fine. After a sleepless night in which the twins were too excited to calm down enough to go to bed on time, Mitzi got a tummy ache and let everyone know it. Then the cat got out and was not in a mood to come back inside with all the noise...but they had finally all gone to bed.

 

Everyone went into the house, glad the long, bumpy ride up the mountain was over.

“Feeling better today, little darling?” Burt asked as he sat down across from his beloved wife, looking in the blanket at his youngest granddaughter.

“I think she is. She ate the whole bottle on the way up and now she's sleepy,” Carol reported, smiling at Burt. It was such a miracle that Mitzi had been able to bring a smile back to Burt's face after the tragedy of Daisy's death. Carol had been seriously worried about the affect that would have on Burt's health, but Mitzi made him smile and she could tell his heart was lighter now.

“I guess I should go up and put her to sleep in her own bed,” Carol said, but Burt stopped her.

“Let me hold her for a few minutes. I haven't gotten to in quite a while,” he said softly and held out his arms. Carol got up and Burt sat in the rocker, holding Mitzi. He rocked slowly and sang almost under his breath. It was a lullaby that he'd sung to Kurt when he was a baby, and he sang it to the babies in the Buddy Grandparent program when they were fussy.

 

“Over in Killarney, many years ago

My mother sang a song to me in tones so sweet and low

Just a simple little ditty, in her good old Irish way

And I'd give the world if she could sing that song to me this day

Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral

Too-ra-loo ra-li

Too-ra-loo-ra loo-ral

Hush now don't you cry....”

 

Carol walked to the kitchen, thinking she could start some lunch.

Blaine was standing by the kitchen table, leaning against it. His eyes were dreamy and he didn't notice his mother-in-law walking by.

“Blaine? Are you all right?” she asked.

Blaine shook his head, then focused in on her.

“Oh...Carol. Sorry, I was thinking of that song. It reminded me of when my dad would sing it when I was a little kid,” he answered, giving her a shy smile.

“Oh, your dad was Irish?”

“No, my mother was. He must have gotten it from her, I guess,” he shook his head as if to clear the cobwebs of memory. “Well, what shall we fix for lunch?” he asked, going into the pantry. Kurt was just putting away the groceries.

“Panini sandwiches? I was thinking of grilling the bell peppers with onions . . . “ Kurt started to say, setting several green, red, and yellow bell peppers on the cutting board along with a Vidalia onion.

“Sounds lovely,” Carol joined in, going to the bread box to get the rolls out to slice.

“I'll make a fresh fruit salad for dessert then,” Blaine offered.

They worked together, getting out the sliced roast beef for the sandwiches and a cauliflower and broccoli salad to add to the fare. It wasn't too long before they were all sitting once more at the large table, everyone talking and laughing.

 

“It hardly seems like a whole year has passed since the day I came up here and Jordan got lost picking blackberries,” Burt said, smiling at his grandson.

“I didn't get lost – I knew where I was,” Jordy argued, blushing at how gullible he was to listen to his sister. He glanced over at her and she gave him an 'I'm sorry' smile. He reached across the table to touch her hand and all was well between them.

“What was your favorite thing of the whole year then?” Kurt asked the table at large.

“Rachel's baby being born safe and both of them healthy,” Carol said. “Oh! And Mitzi, too. We were blessed with two new babies this year and for that I am thankful.”

“I agree, the two babies,” Burt said.

“I was happy we got to go so many places this year – first to New York and then to Colorado,” Katie said.

“I loved making our own food – jam, ice cream, bread – just everything,” Jordan added.

“I was happy that we got our farm animals. Kimmy the cow, and all of the other ones. I love animals and it's fun to have so many here,” Katie said.

“I'm most happy that we are a family together,” Blaine said, taking Kurt's hand and pulling him closer. He kept pulling until Kurt was in his lap, arms around his shoulders as Blaine kissed him.

Burt coughed, loudly.

Kurt couldn't help but smile, thinking of how ten years ago he might have jumped away from Blaine with a blushing face.

“Just a minute, Dad, I'm kissing my husband,” he said, his eyes dancing, and leaned back in to finish the kiss. Burt laughed.

Mitzi startled in his lap. Jerking her head up to stare at her grandfather.

“Oh, little one, I didn't mean to wake you . . . “ Burt apologized. He held her closer and lulled her back to sleep.

“I can take her up if you want me to, Dad,” Kurt offered but his father shook his head.

 

Lunch was called and Burt finally took the baby up to her bed, turned on the baby monitor and closed her door.

“Oh, this is wonderful!” Carol exclaimed, taking another bite of the sandwich.

“Can we learn to make pickles next?” Jordy asked, studying the dill pickle in his hand. “We could plant cucumbers in the garden maybe?”

“That sounds like a great idea, but I'll have to find a recipe. Pickles aren't something my dad made when I was a kid,” Blaine said.

“I can help with that. My grandmother won a blue ribbon at the county fair for her dill-and-green tomato pickles. I have all her canning recipes. We could even make watermelon rind pickles if you'd like,” Carol offered.

“Watermelon pickles? Ewww,” said Jordan and his sister together, rolling their eyes in the exact same way.

“And people wonder if they're really twins . . . “ Kurt laughed.

“But – you can't eat the rind off watermelon!” Katie said, incredulous.

“I beg to differ. If you prepare it in the right way, it's delicious,” Burt said. “My grannie used to batter it and fry it with salt. It's good, I promise.”

“What about the pickles?” Jordy asked his grandmother. Carol smiled at him.

“You cut the pink part out of the pieces – just like you always do when you eat the melon. Then peel the dark green outside husk off, cut the white pieces into small chunks and set them in salt water overnight. In the morning you rinse the rind pieces in just plain water. When they're soft, you cook them with sugar, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and vinegar. I always add some thin-sliced lemon and a few maraschino cherries.”

“That sounds delicious! I'm excited to make them now,” Jordan said, grinning.

“We'll have to wait until July or August, honey. We need watermelons and they won't be ripe until then,” Carol told him.

“Okay, Grandma. I'm looking forward to it.”

 

 


 

The next day, Burt and Carol went back down the mountain. They took Kitty with them because she needed to do some shopping in town. Kurt had planned to go down next week to pick her up.

 

“Can we go look at the cheese you and I put in the cave?” Jordan asked the next morning.

“Oh, I need to help your dad with combing Lucy and Scout. They have a bunch of mats in their fur and I'm afraid there are stickers in them. How about this afternoon, pal?” Blaine countered.

Jordan just gave him a resigned smile.

“You and Katura can start out just before noon if you want and Tatay and I can come along with a picnic lunch?” Kurt asked, trying to placate his shy son.

“Okay, Daddy,” Jordan agreed.

 

~~

“No, it's this way!” Jordan said, pulling his sister's hand to try to get her to follow him. “I've gone with Tatay to wipe the cheeses lots of times. That way is around the other side of the mountain where the big river starts.”

“Okay, I'll come with you, but only because I need to help when you get us lost,” Katie said, even though she knew her twin was right. She wished they had brought Lucy or Scout along, but Lucy was about to have puppies and probably couldn't walk this far. Scout would probably come with Daddy and Tatay.

The children walked along the path and Jordan shivered when they passed the place where the mother fox had died and he had found Harold in the den. He wondered, as he often did, if things would have been better if he'd never found the little fox kit and it had been left to die naturally. He sighed and Katura came over to put her arms around him for a few moments. She recognized the place for what it was.

Taking Jordan's hand, she continued to walk to the cheese cave and they went inside, flashlights in hand.

“I can wipe the cheeses – Tatay taught me how,” Jordy said, getting the clean towels from the indent in the rock wall of the cave that served as a shelf and he got the bottle of vinegar.

“I don't see any mold . . . “ Katie said and Jordan rushed over to look. There on the shelves that were natural to the cave were twenty-eight round cheeses. They had golden rinds and not a speck of mold on any of them. Jordan smiled.

“These are going to be so wonderful when they're done ripening!” he said, grinning.

“How long will that take?” Katie asked, inspecting one of the cylinders.

“I don't know. It's different with each cheese. We can ask Tatay when he gets here.”

They walked outside the cave to wait for their parents. A strange new butterfly flew by and Katie decided to follow it for a little ways, Jordan just in back of her. The gold-and-blue butterfly landed on a flower and Katie turned to ask Jordan if he saw it, but he wasn't there.

“Jordan?” she asked, looking back on the path behind her. Maybe he had seen another butterfly?

“Jordy?”

“Sorry – I saw another one go that way and I was checking to see where it went,” Jordan said from a few yards away.

“Don't go too far, I don't want us to get lost. I'm not really familiar with this part of the mountain. And neither are you,” Katie said, staring into her brother's eyes so he would know how serious she was.

“I wouldn't, Katie, I promise,” he said with a blush. He just wasn't adventurous enough to go walking off into the thick woods by himself. He looked up and smiled at her so she would know he agreed with her.

They walked back to the cave and sat down on several boulders that sat in front of the entrance. The birds had stopped singing when the children came but as they sat quietly, the singing slowly came back. The birds' confidence grew and soon the forest was alive with song.

Katura and Jordan waited quietly as the afternoon wore on.

“They're taking forever. Maybe something's happened?” Katie asked, not really expecting an answer. She scratched at the mosquito bite that had popped up on her arm last night.

“Don't scratch, you'll make it itch more and it might get infected,” Jordy admonished his twin, then gave her one of his sweet smiles to keep his comment from seeming harsh.

“Yeah, okay,” she said, looking at the angry red bump and hoping that it would stop itching. “Thank you,” she mumbled and gave him one of her own smiles. Jordan really was her best friend even though he was her brother.

 

It was another half-hour before they heard Scout barking up the trail.

Kurt, with Mitzi in her back-carrier, and Blaine came into view of the cave but the twins were nowhere to be found.

“Katuuurrra! Jooorrrdan!” Blaine called, looking around to see if they had been there.

“Here's their backpacks,” Kurt called, walking inside the cave. “They will be around here – come help me take Mitzi off my back, honey.”

Blaine went into the entrance of the cave and took Mitzi's weight while Kurt undid the buckles. He set the backpack stand on the ground and took his tiny daughter out of her carrier, holding her close.

“Where's your brother and sister?” Blaine asked, kissing her head. Mitzi had begun to grow more hair and the thin blonde strands has started to curl. She looked up with her big blue eyes and stared at her parent, a small smile coming across her face. She reached out and touched Blaine's cheek.

“Daddy! Tatay!” the twins called out as they came in front of the cave, smiling when they saw their parents and baby sister.

 

The rest of the afternoon was fun. They ate their picnic lunch, took turns holding Mitzi, and had a taste of the cheese aging in the cave. On the way home the twins saw another of the colorful butterflies and pointed it out to Kurt and Blaine. Scout barked and chased a chipmunk. Blaine started a sing-a-long and they got back home in time to do the chores before supper.

 

“Daddy, where's Lucy?” asked Jordy, brushing hay from his hair as he left the barn.

“I haven't seen her since this morning. She was inside the house when we left to have the picnic,” Kurt answered.

“Lucy!” Blaine called but there was no answering bark.

Everyone walked back up to the house to fix supper. They all piled into the house, the twins calling their dog. No answer.

Kurt cuddled a very sleepy Mitzi as he walked into the house. He'd fed her while sitting on the porch as Blaine helped the other kids with farm chores.

“I'll get Mitzi down for bed if you want to start supper?” Kurt asked.

“Of course,” Blaine smiled and leaned forward to kiss first his baby daughter's head and then Kurt's lips. Kurt kissed back and reluctantly turned to go upstairs.

 

As he laid Mitzi down in her bed, Kurt heard a snuffling noise, then a sigh. He thought it might be coming from the yard, but the window was locked tight. He stood still to listen and heard a shuffling from the closet. Smiling to himself, confident he knew the source of the noises, he opened the door a bit further.

There, in a nest made of an old blanket that the dog had pulled from a shelf, was Lucy. She was surrounded by five fat little balls of pudgy puppies.

“Oh, look what you have,” Kurt said in a quiet and calm voice. “What a fine family you're got, sweetheart.”

Lucy looked up and wagged her tail, then went back to licking one of the pups. Kurt searched the blanket, making sure there were no more puppies, and left the new mommy to take care of her babies. The kids were going to be so thrilled – and Blaine was going to be over the moon with excitement. He was really the biggest kid of them all.

 

“I found Lucy,” Kurt said as he stepped off the bottom stair and headed towards the kitchen. He could smell delicious odors coming from a pot on the stove. Blaine was wearing his chef apron and stirring the pot, a look of concentration on his face.

“Oh, where is she?” Katie asked, looking for the dog to be at her Daddy's heels.

“She's busy. Let's eat supper and then go see . . .”

Blaine had set down the spoon he was using to stir the sauce, turned off the burner, and was halfway to the stairs before Kurt had finished.

“Which room?” he asked, his eyes lit up with anticipation.

“Now just clam down. She's fine and it's all over with. Honestly, Blaine, how do you expect the kids to be calm when you're jumping around like a kangaroo...” Kurt said, but it fell on empty space. Blaine was gone.

“You better not wake Mitzi!” Kurt called up the stairs, but turned around in laughter to tell the astonished children that they now had a litter of flat-coated retrievers in their sister's closet.

Supper was forgotten about as Lucy was moved to the little-used den where she could lie in her large bed and nurse her puppies in peace. Her bed was next to the fireplace so she would be warm. Scout came to visit and got a fierce growl in his face for his trouble and Blaine shut him out of the room.

Katie and Jordy each got to carry a new puppy down the stairs to the bed while Kurt and Blaine carried the rest and coaxed Lucy to come, too. It was almost an hour before everything was settled. Lucy had been out, she had water and food, and was left to rest after her ordeal of the day. She was asleep before the door was closed.

 

“Two boy puppies and three girls. Why am I always outnumbered?” Jordan sighed. They were sitting at the table eating spaghetti with garlic bread. “Two sisters and one of me.”

“Well, your tatay and I make it three to two,” Kurt laughed.

Jordan got a big smile. Maybe he wasn't so outnumbered after all.

 

They played Monopoly after supper before the twins went to bed. They got one last peek at the puppies before they went up for showers and bed.

“Goodnight, Katie. Goodnight, Jordy,” Blaine said, giving each a kiss on the cheek. Kurt followed suit and they closed the doors to the children's rooms.

 

“Blaine. Where are you going?” Kurt asked, authority in his voice.

“Just to make sure all the doors are locked . . . “ he answered with a guilty tone.

“We did that together while the kids were taking their showers. You are sneaking down to play with the puppies,” Kurt admonished his husband. “They are less than a day old. Leave them alone.”

Blaine blushed.

“I wasn't gonna touch them . . .”

Kurt walked over and put his arms around Blaine's shoulders and pulled him close.

“Don't ever change, baby. I love you so much,” Kurt cooed, kissing Blaine.

“I love you, too.”

They walked to their bedroom, hand in hand, and laid together in the hammock on the balcony.

“It's been a full year since we moved here to Mt Russell. Has it been a good one?” Blaine asked.

“It's been a wonderful one, babe. I wouldn't trade it for the world.”

“So many things have happened – good, sad, exciting, heartbreaking. Wow, have we ever had such a full year?” Blaine asked. “Losing Daisy. I thought we might lose Burt, too, for a while there,” he said, an anxious look on his face as he thought he shouldn't have started with that.

“It took Mitzi to bring him back to us,” Kurt said, glad his face was hidden in the shadows of the night.

“We got Mitzi, yes. What a miracle. We have been so lucky in our children,” Blaine said, snuggling closer to Kurt.

“We really are blessed,” Kurt said, contentedly. “And I am blessed to have you, my love.”

“We were meant to be together, I know it. How else do you explain the way we met, the connection we felt – the love we share?”

Kurt leaned forward to kiss his husband once again.

“Adele was born and Rachel was healthy throughout her pregnancy, thank the stars,” Kurt said, smiling at the thought of his sister-in-law. He missed being close to her, but she would probably never leave New York permanently.

“The farm. How could we have envisioned it even a few years ago?” Kurt asked, marveling at what a change they'd made this year.

“All the animals – dogs, goats, chickens, sheep, even a cow. It's been a long road. We've made mistakes.”

“Harold. I still feel terrible about that little fox, but what else could we do?” Kurt asked himself.

“It happened. I don't think either of us would have done anything differently. It was hard on all of us, but a lesson that needed to be learned,” Blaine said in a sad voice. He looked away from Kurt, feeling like it had all been his fault.

Kurt was quick to pick up on that.

“No, baby, don't go blaming yourself. It was both of us. Equally.”

“But the fight we had over you going to work in town . . . that was all me. I was selfish. You love being an architect and I put my work as forest manager for the company above your career. Kurt, you can go back to Church & George. I am so sorry we fought,” Blaine admitted, burying his face in Kurt's shoulder. He nuzzled into his neck and tried to keep his tears at bay.

“Oh, no,” Kurt said, gently extracting his husband from his neck. “No, you were right. I pitched a fit, but when I calmed down I realized you were right. Our children are only going to be children for a short amount of time. Don't think I haven't noticed that you don't go to Warner camp much anymore. I do talk to your brother, and Cooper told me you have an apprentice that is doing most of the managing now . . . “

Blaine's eyes got wide.

“That blabber-mouth!”

“Well, August is the perfect person to take over some of that. They both know we are taking a few years to be with our kids, and now with Mitzi it might be a few more,” Kurt said, pulling Blaine back closer.

“He started classes at the university in the spring. It was supposed to be a surprise I think,” Blaine said. “We are meeting with Mr Warner, Lenore, Puck, Cooper, and August next month to figure things out. As far as I know, Puck and Lenore are happy to give up a share of their part of the company because Puck wants to keep the bike shop. He doesn't want to be a lumberjack.

“Mr Warner is nearing seventy and he's mostly retired now anyway. Dad owned two-thirds of the company, so Cooper and I will split that, though I am going to insist that he takes a bigger percentage of the profits while they are putting in more of the work. We will need to go over the details, but that looks like what is going to happen.”

“Wow. I mean, I kind of knew most of that, but I feel like I was left out.”

“Oh, no, my love. You know as much as I do. I don't see any big surprises where the business is concerned. I wouldn't leave you out,” Blaine put his arms around Kurt and kissed him with passion.

“We need to work on our communication.”

“Okay. I get all wrapped up in the farm, the kids, the business – and I don't pay enough attention to you. I apologize. I promise to make that better from now on,” Blaine professed.

“I do the same thing. There is so much going on all the time! Plus the designing I'm doing here for Church & George. I might not be working in their office, but you know I still do some designing for them. I will agree to work on our communications, too, babe,” Kurt said, kissing Blaine's neck.

“That tickles,” Blaine giggled. Kurt grinned.

“Look at what we've done this year! From making blueberry jam and butter to ice cream and cheese. The kids learned to crochet, quilt, pan for gold, and ice skate. We have found honey bees and learned to take care of farm animals and each other,” Blaine said wistfully.

“Plus we've had visitors – Puck and Lenore, Finn and Rachel, and we reconnected with Dave Karofsky and met his husband. We went to New York and to Aspen.”

 

The men stopped and looked at each other.

“I am exhausted just talking about this year!” Blaine laughed, tickling Kurt's ribs.
“Hey, no tickling! You know that's a rule in our house. NO tickling,” Kurt squealed, trying to get away. He rolled them out of the hammock and onto the wooden boards of the balcony, Blaine right on top of him. Tickling quickly turned to kissing.

“I know a better place for this activity,” Blaine offered, standing up and offering Kurt his hand.

Kurt took it and they went back inside their bedroom. They slowly undressed each other, the old flame still burning bright between them. Before there were children, before the farm, before it all – there were Blaine and Kurt and a tiny cabin on a big mountain.

Muscle memory served them as they came together, no longer the hesitant fingers and stolen kisses. The passion was still the same, however. Sure fingers and deep emotions brought them together on the bed, kissing and touching each other as if nobody else existed.

Blaine took Kurt into his mouth, loving the primal sounds as he sucked and used his tongue to pleasure his husband. Kurt turned to do the same, loving the taste as Blaine got more excited.

It wasn't long before the tube of Astroglide appeared and they became one, one inside the other as the heat coiled in their bellies and they groaned out their lust for each other.

After cleaning up, they lay in each other's arms, both feeling the most content they had ever felt.

“I love you, baby,” Blaine said, kissing Kurt's neck.

“I love you just as much,” Kurt said before pointing out the open balcony doors at the night sky.

Orion's Belt was watching over them.

 

~~~~~~THE * END~~~~~