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“Which pants should I wear?”

Kurt turns away from the mirror to find Blaine holding up two pairs of chinos: one navy with little white stars, the other fire-engine red. Kurt means to look at the pants, he really does – he never spurns an invitation for fashion advice – but he gets a little distracted by the fact that Blaine is currently not wearing any pants at all. He’s not wearing a shirt, either, just a small pair of purple briefs that cling enticingly to his hips and the soft bulge between his thighs. Kurt happens to know from personal experience that if Blaine goes a little less soft, those briefs won’t hide a thing.

Blaine shifts his weight, and his thighs flex with the movement. Kurt’s fingers twitch. The student production Blaine’s in this semester is particularly dance-intensive, and the results have been, ah…inspiring in the bedroom. (And the living room. And the kitchen nook. And the entrance hall.)

Jenna probably won’t mind if they’re a little late for her party. There’s no reason he can’t take a few minutes to appreciate the fruits of all Blaine’s hard work: first with his hands, and then maybe his tongue…

“Kurt, the pants?” Blaine repeats, in a tone of exaggerated patience. He waves the chinos through the air, as if to recapture Kurt’s attention – but instead of focusing on the pants, Kurt suddenly notices how tightly Blaine is clutching them, bunching the neatly-pressed fabric between his fingers. He frowns, disapproving and a little confused. Blaine is never that careless with his clothes, especially not when he’s concerned enough about his appearance to ask Kurt for his input.

Ah. And there’s the answer.

“Come here,” he says, and knows his instincts are right when Blaine immediately obeys, trotting over to join him next to the bed. Up close, the strain in his face is obvious: his lower lip looks distinctly gnawed on, and his eyebrows are decidedly flatter than normal. Kurt tuts in sympathy and reaches for the pants, still trapped in Blaine’s white-knuckled grip. “Here, give me those before you wrinkle them.” He gently frees both pairs of pants and lays them on the bed before returning to Blaine, who looks a little lost without something tangible to fuss over.

“You didn’t pick a pair.”

“Nope.” He tugs Blaine toward him by the shoulders, and Blaine comes willingly, slipping his arms around Kurt’s waist. Kurt brings a hand up to cup Blaine’s freshly-shaven cheek and kisses him, sweetly at first, and then a little less so, encouraged by the heat of Blaine’s bare body pressing up against him. He has to bend his knees a little to keep his mouth on Blaine’s; he’s already wearing his boots, and the height difference between them is more pronounced than usual.

Blaine has gone nice and melty against him, so Kurt eases regretfully out of the kiss, forcing himself to resist the temptation of Blaine’s clever, velvety tongue. He tips his forehead against Blaine’s, careful not to disturb either of their hairstyles.

“You’re nervous.”

“No, I’m not,” Blaine says instantly. Kurt pulls back, raises an eyebrow at him, and he wilts like a ruined soufflé. “Maybe a little. It’s just…seeing everyone again…”

Kurt understands. They’ve been back in New York for two months, and so far, everything has been going wonderfully. They’ve both been working hard to keep their relationship strong, and even the stress of the move and returning to school haven’t been able to touch them. It probably helps that they’re still solidly in the honeymoon stage, endlessly delighted by each other and the commitment they’ve made. Harder times are coming, Kurt knows, but he also knows that this time, they’ll be able to handle them. It’s like his dad told them before they left Lima: even when they’re arguing, they have to remember to always fight for their marriage rather than for themselves.

Separately, they’ve also been doing well. After almost a year away, Kurt has easily settled back into the rhythm of school, work, and his internship. (Isabelle was happy to take him back, though she had a great deal to say about his daring to get married without inviting her – and, even worse, without consulting her on his tux. At least she agreed that their “rustic chic” theme was acceptably on-trend.)

Blaine has blossomed at NYU, as Kurt knew he would, making friends, joining activities, and doing well in all his classes. The atmosphere of his new program has been good for him. Without the constant pressure to out-perform and out-maneuver all his classmates, he’s been able to stay on top of his coursework, score a supporting role in a student musical, join a couple of ridiculously nerdy clubs, and still carve out time for date nights and marathon reality TV binges on the weekends. He’s happy at NYU, comfortable with himself in a way he could never have been in NYADA’s cutthroat, every-diva-for-herself halls.

So far, they’ve avoided letting their social circles from school overlap too much – other than Elliott, of course, who is so thrilled to have Blaine at NYU that Kurt has joked that it’s his turn to be jealous. Kurt has met a few of Blaine’s new friends, but by silent agreement, they’ve maintained a prudent distance between their relationship and NYADA, where everything fell apart. This party will be the first time Blaine has seen any of his former classmates – the same people who watched him crash and burn so spectacularly, and never reached out a hand of support.

Kurt played as big a role in that as anyone, he knows. He’s long since recognized his own part in Blaine’s downward spiral and eventual drop-out. It’s one of the many pieces of their history that the two of them have talked through in recent months, both in therapy and on their own. Blaine has acknowledged that he relied too much on Kurt for his own happiness, that he treated Kurt's support more like a crutch – to the point where, once that crutch was taken away, he found he couldn’t stand on his own. Kurt, meanwhile, has had to come to terms with the fears and resentment that led him to abandon Blaine to his demons, knowing perfectly well how hard Blaine would take their break-up. It’s taken a lot of painful conversations, but they’ve both finally been able to let go of the bitterness they’d been holding onto for so long, to forgive each other and themselves. They both made mistakes. Blaine never meant to push Kurt so far, and Kurt never meant to hurt Blaine so deeply.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for most of tonight’s partygoers. If there’s one thing NYADA prides itself on, it’s weeding out the weak. Kurt has no doubt that most of his classmates took a sick satisfaction in Blaine’s fall, if not actively encouraged it. He can’t blame Blaine for being worried about walking back into the lion’s den.

“We don’t have to go, you know,” he says softly. “There will be other parties. If you’re not feeling up to it tonight, we can just stay in and watch Ladies of London.” He toys with the waistband of Blaine’s briefs, edging a fingertip past the elastic to tease at the silky skin below. “I’m sure we could find some way to occupy ourselves.”

Blaine bites back a smile. “Kurt Hummel,” he says, sounding scandalized, “are you really suggesting skipping your friend’s birthday party to have sex on the couch?”

“Hey, you started it.” Kurt slides both hands fully under the waistband and grabs two generous handfuls of Blaine’s ass, startling a squeaky laugh out of him. “Don’t think I don’t know you picked these for a reason.”

“Guilty,” Blaine admits, and stretches up on his toes to bring their mouths together again, ass flexing deliciously in Kurt’s hands. He leans heavily against Kurt to keep his balance, one hand on Kurt’s jaw to angle him into the kiss, and Kurt quickly makes the loving, selfless decision that a few minutes of making out are just what Blaine needs.

Admittedly, time does get away from him at some point. He vaguely notices his phone buzzing a couple times, but it sounds strangely distant, a million miles away from the tiny noises Blaine keeps making into his mouth. Whoever is texting him can wait. He’s comforting his husband right now, and he takes his marriage duties very seriously.

They’re well on their way to christening a new section of the bedroom wall when Kurt pulls away with a gasp, blinking his eyes open to take in Blaine’s dazed expression and plush red lips. “Okay, decision time. Party or no party? Because if this keeps going, you’re going to seriously mess up my hair.”

“I will not,” Blaine says. He looks slightly offended at the accusation, so Kurt ducks in close again to whisper exactly what he has in mind, breathing the words low and hot into Blaine’s ear. Blaine shudders against him, fingers clenching in the back of his vest. “Fuck, Kurt – okay, okay, point taken.”

Kurt grins, pleased with himself, and pecks a deliberately chaste little kiss to Blaine’s cheek. “So, what’ll it be? Are we going or staying?”

Blaine hesitates for a long moment. “Going,” he says at last, not very convincingly.

“Are you sure? If you don’t want to go, it’s all right, I promise. I won’t be upset.” He really wouldn’t be. It’s just a party, their absence won’t even be noticed – and, in all honesty, the prospect of a lazy, mostly-naked night at home is looking better by the minute.

Blaine noses against Kurt’s jaw and sighs. “No, we should go. It’s Jenna’s party. You should be there.” He smoothes down Kurt’s shirt and vest where they’ve gotten rucked up. “I can’t keep hiding from them forever.”

Kurt kisses him one last time to bolster his decision. “We can leave any time you want. Just say the word, and we’re out of there.” He adjusts himself in his jeans, wincing a little, then steps away to fetch the red pair of chinos from the bed. “And wear these.”

Blaine takes the pants from him with a knowing smile. “You just want to ogle the merchandise all night.”

“Bought and paid for, honey,” Kurt reminds him, waggling his ring finger. He gives Blaine’s ass an encouraging tap with the flat of his hand. “Now get moving. I have a hot husband to show off.”

+

The apartment is packed with people when they arrive, a healthy mix of students, hipsters, and trust fund babies play-acting as starving artists. Kurt only recognizes about half the people he sees, which gives him hope; maybe Blaine can find some nice neutral strangers to talk with.

Jenna descends on them as soon as they walk in, a whirlwind of curls and glittery eyeshadow. Thankfully, she has the sense not to make a big fuss over Blaine. She just pulls him into a warm hug and thanks him for coming, as if it hasn’t been more than a year since the last time they’d seen each other. Blaine looks so grateful for her restraint that Kurt could kiss her.

Blaine sticks close as they venture into the crowd, gripping Kurt’s hand like it’s the only thing keeping him from bolting. He’s right to be wary. Right off the bat, they’re approached by a series of NYADA students who remember Blaine and want to say hi. Half of them are probably just scouting for gossip, but they’re nice enough to Blaine’s face, at least, congratulating him and Kurt on their marriage and asking politely about the program at NYU. A couple people even extend sincere-sounding invitations to catch up further over coffee or to check out the new off-off-Broadway production everyone’s been buzzing about.

Kurt does catch a few bystanders sizing Blaine up when he’s not looking, critically eyeing his waistline and muttering amongst themselves – the old how fat have you gotten since your life went to hell? move. He seethes internally, but decides not to reward them with a reaction. If Blaine hasn’t noticed, it’s better not to draw his attention to it, and anyway, he has nothing to worry about. Ironically, he’s in better shape now than he ever was at NYADA.

They have only one genuinely unpleasant encounter, when they find themselves cornered by a small gaggle of particularly bloodthirsty seniors who had reveled in Blaine’s downfall. They’ve got their claws out tonight, but they’re hopelessly outclassed. Kurt cuts them down before they can even get going, disposing of the whole pack of them with a few razor-sharp words and leaving them speechless in his wake as he sails off with Blaine in tow. Amateurs.

Once they’re safely away, Blaine squeezes his hand. “Thank you.”

“What for?” Kurt replies, perfectly nonchalant, and soaks in the warmth of Blaine’s smile all the way to the drinks table.

Other than that, most people are civil, even friendly, and Blaine gradually relaxes, releasing his death-grip on Kurt’s hand. His smile looks more natural, and his personality reasserts itself. He starts to act less like the anxious NYADA drop-out and more like the kind, cheerful, charismatic man Kurt loves.

An hour after they arrived, they’ve drifted into separate conversations. Kurt is talking with some acquaintances from his improv class, and Blaine is halfway across the room with two underclassmen, a redhead Kurt has never seen before and a tall girl he recognizes from his dance elective – Danielle, he thinks. They seem to be getting along well, both girls responding easily to Blaine’s natural charm.

Redhead looks like she’s a little too responsive, actually. She smiles intimately at Blaine, touches his arm, widens her expertly lined eyes and laughs prettily and too often. The only way she could broadcast her interest more clearly would be to start removing clothes – and given how things seem to be progressing, that may well be her next step.

Kurt can’t fault her for trying. Those really are incredible pants.

Still, Blaine is wearing his wedding ring, which Redhead either hasn’t noticed or has chosen to ignore. Blaine himself probably hasn’t even realized what’s happening. For all his virtues, he is still laughably bad at recognizing when women are hitting on him.

Kurt politely bows out of his own little circle of partygoers and starts making his way over to Blaine’s. It’s not like he has anything to worry about, but Blaine usually ends up flailing when he does figure out what’s going on. Better for Kurt to intervene now, rather than having to rescue him later.

He sidles up to the group, squeezing into the inappropriately small space between Blaine and Redhead, and links his arm around Blaine’s: sufficient to stake his claim, yet casual enough that Blaine might not notice anything unusual.

Blaine shoots him a quick, bright smile. He pulls his elbow in against his side, tugging Kurt’s arm along with it to press briefly against his ribs, and a little burst of affection blooms in Kurt’s stomach.

Redhead has visibly deflated at the sight of them, which pleases Kurt more than he intends to ever admit. He doesn’t bother flaunting his ring at her; that would be tacky, and he’s already made his statement. No need to overdo it.

Danielle, on the other hand, seems to have actually perked up. “So you’re the famous husband,” she says, like it’s a secret Blaine has been keeping from her.

Blaine’s eyebrows go up. “Am I?” he asks coyly, looking sideways at Kurt.

Kurt shrugs, smiling. “I may have mentioned you once or twice.”

Danielle scoffs. “Once or twice a minute, maybe. But would you believe he’s never used your name? It’s always my husband this and my husband that.”

“That is actually my legal name,” Blaine confides, maybe a little drunker than Kurt thought he was.

Even Redhead laughs at that, graciously conceding defeat in her pursuit.

Kurt presses a fond kiss to the side of Blaine’s head and settles in next to him, content for the moment to stay exactly where he is.

+

Another hour, and he’s lost Blaine again. Well, not lost. He knows where he is, chatting with that scheming snake Jackson Whittaker in the corner by the kitchen. Kurt is seriously considering intervening again – Jackson is significantly more dangerous than any smitten dance major, in his own way – but he doesn’t want to seem like he’s hovering. Besides, Blaine looks like he’s handling himself okay for now.

He’s worried, though, and that makes it hard to focus on his own conversation with Jenna. His attention keeps wandering back to Blaine, checking in to make sure he still seems comfortable and at ease. He can’t quite see Blaine’s face, but his shoulders are relaxed, so he’s probably fine. Of course, it could just be the alcohol loosening him up. Kurt hopes he’s not too drunk. He doesn’t have a great record with public intoxication, and anyway, Kurt has plans for him later.

“You know, you can’t actually get him out of his clothes just by staring at him,” Jenna says suddenly. “Good effort, though.”

Kurt rolls his eyes. “Get your mind out of the gutter.”

“Oh, whatever. If you were paying any attention at all to anyone else here, you would’ve noticed that dude with the hipster ‘stache has been trying to read your pulse through those painted-on jeans for like ten minutes.” She gestures unsubtly to a guy standing near the couch, who quickly looks away. “Seriously, go save Blaine and get out of here. I guarantee he’d rather be leaving with you than standing there listening to that Botoxed drama queen blab on about all the bitches he’s pushed down the stairs recently.”

Kurt laughs. “You’re sure you don’t mind?”

“Positive. You’ve still got that newlywed glow, and it’s totally harshing the ‘drunken hook-up’ vibe I’m going for.” She hugs him, probably smearing glitter all over his shirt in the process. “Thanks for coming. Both of you. Now go get your man.”

Blaine spots him approaching, his face lighting up with the undisguised delight he reserves for Kurt and trailers for upcoming superhero movies. He reaches out a beseeching hand, and Kurt goes to him, drawn by the gravitational pull of those honey-sweet eyes.

He slips an arm around Blaine’s shoulders. “Hi, stranger.”

“Hey,” Blaine says, his own arm coming up to curl comfortably around Kurt’s hips. He cuddles into Kurt’s side, more demonstrative than he’s been all night. Kurt’s not sure if that’s a result of the alcohol or the present company, but he’s happy to go along with it either way, especially if it accelerates the process of getting them out of here and back to their apartment. “Do you, um, do you know Jackson?”

“We’ve met,” Jackson says coolly. “Hello, Kurt.”

Kurt levels him with a hard look, just shy of being a glare. “Jackson. I see you’ve met my husband.” It’s intentional this time – not just a claim, but a warning. If Jackson even thinks about trying his twisted mind-games on Blaine, Kurt will burn his life to the ground.

“Charmed,” Jackson drawls. He regards the pair of them with barely-concealed distaste. “Well, if you’ll excuse me…”

He doesn’t bother to actually finish the excuse, just slithers off into the crowd. Kurt watches him go, trying not to sneer too obviously. It could easily be read as jealousy, and the last thing he needs is for some stupid rumor to start spreading about Jackson meddling in his marriage.

“He seemed…nice,” Blaine says.

Nice isn’t exactly the word Kurt would choose. He really has to work with Blaine on being less forgiving of people’s irredeemable character flaws. “He’s a toad, honey. It’s okay to hate him.”

Kurt,” Blaine admonishes, but he’s laughing, ducking his head a little to hide the grin tugging at his lips and eyes.

“Well, he is,” Kurt says, unrepentant. Secretly, he’s just thankful that Jackson didn’t arrive at NYADA until after Blaine had already left. He would have ripped Blaine to shreds, and Blaine would have let him, insisting all the while that he was a great guy, really, just misunderstood.

That’s the way Blaine is, of course. He wouldn’t be Blaine if he didn’t see the good in almost everyone. Kurt loves that about him, but he hates how vulnerable it leaves him to getting manipulated. He never seems to learn, even after getting burned: by Sebastian, by NYADA, even by his own father. Sometimes Kurt wishes he could protect Blaine from all the nastiness in the world somehow – just cradle him against his chest and cover his ears and growl at anyone who comes too close.

Wow, okay, maybe he’s a little drunker than he thought, too.

Blaine has taken advantage of Kurt’s distraction to shift around next to him, looping both arms around his waist and burrowing into his embrace. He peers up at Kurt with bright eyes. “I’m glad we came.”

Kurt smiles, pleasantly surprised. “Yeah?”

Blaine returns the smile. “Yeah.” His nerves seem to have vanished. He was a wreck earlier, but now he looks perfectly comfortable to be standing here with Kurt, an island in a sea of bad memories. He looks happy, and confident. Strong.

God, I am so proud to be with you, Kurt thinks, for probably the thousandth time since they started dating. He almost says it out loud, but Blaine’s had enough to drink that he might get weepy, and if he starts crying Kurt will probably follow, and that is not at all what he had in mind for tonight. There’s a time and place for tearful affirmations, and Kurt would much prefer to be having triumphant “taking on the world” sex in their bed rather than sobbing into Blaine’s neck in front of half the powerhouses of the NYADA gossip mill, thank you.

“Come home with me?” he asks instead, toying with the stiff silk of Blaine’s bowtie.

Blaine catches his hand and brings it to his lips, pressing a kiss to Kurt’s ring. “Always.”

+

They’re both starting to fade by the time they make it back to their apartment. Kurt still has plans, though, and they reek of smoke, so they shed their clothes and stumble into the shower together. They wash their hair first, because they’ve learned from experience that if they don’t do it now, it won’t get done. Kurt helps scrub the gel out of Blaine’s curls, and Blaine returns the favor with a leisurely scalp massage that makes Kurt feel like he could dissolve in pleasure, just melt away and slip down the drain like the suds from their hair.

“How are you so good at that?” he moans. Blaine’s hands slide out of his hair, and he squints one eye open. “And why are you stopping?”

Blaine is already cracking open Kurt’s body wash. He offers Kurt a cheesy wink. “You may recall that hair washing is only one of my many talents.”

“Mmm.” Kurt grabs Blaine by his wet, narrow hips and drags him in close, almost making him drop the body wash in the process. “Remind me.”

They lather each other up, trading lazy kisses while they slick their soapy hands over every inch of skin they can reach. It’s not the most efficient way to get clean, but it’s unquestionably the most fun. There’s something dreamy about being together like this, the world narrowed down to the shapes of their bodies and the warm water pelting down on them, everything cloaked in a thick haze of steam.

Blaine is impatient tonight, it seems. It doesn’t take long before he’s going in for the kill, teasing Kurt’s nipples with one hand while the other drops down to fondle his hardening cock.

Kurt, though – well, he’s not done playing yet. He drags his hands all over Blaine’s body, savoring all the curves and planes and angles he loves: the softness of Blaine’s belly, his firm biceps, his beautiful back, the thick muscles of his thighs.

Blaine mouths hungrily at Kurt’s throat, rutting up against his hip. “Please,” he breathes. He flicks his tongue over Kurt’s pulse point, just as his thumb ghosts over the very tip of Kurt’s cock. “Please touch me.”

Kurt tilts Blaine’s chin up and kisses that greedy mouth. “Don’t worry. I’ll take care of you.” He slips a hand down between the round curves of Blaine’s ass, and Blaine groans, head falling back against the wall. “In fact, I already told you how I’m going to do it.”

With that, Kurt takes advantage of the setting to follow through on his promise from earlier, spinning Blaine around and pushing him face-first against the tile before dropping to his knees. He urges Blaine’s thighs apart with eager hands, spreading him wide to get his mouth exactly where he wants it.

Blaine cries out at the first touch of his tongue, and it just keeps going from there, a steady flow of moans and whines and whimpers as Kurt works him over. Kurt can hear his fingertips squeaking against the tile, scrabbling desperately, until at last one hand comes flailing back and lands solidly on Kurt’s head.

Told you so, Kurt thinks to himself, as Blaine’s fingers twist frantically through his hair. He would smirk if his mouth weren’t otherwise occupied. He does so love being right.

He loves this more, though, so he gets back to it. His fingers skid over the slippery swell of Blaine’s ass, digging for purchase, holding him open so he can kiss and lick and suck until Blaine’s legs are threatening to buckle and the water is running cool.

They barely bother to dry off before they’re tripping over themselves to get to the bedroom, shivering and giddy. Kurt shoves Blaine down onto the bed and hoists his hips up to finish what he started. He loses himself in Blaine’s body – the taste and heat of him, the trembling of his thighs, the scent of his own soap warmed by Blaine’s skin – and Blaine shakes and swears and writhes and comes all over the duvet, sobbing out Kurt’s name.

He’s still sprawled face-down on top of the covers when Kurt comes back from brushing his teeth. He looks like every sexual urge Kurt has ever had, all dark golden skin and wanton invitation. Kurt is seriously tempted to just jerk off all over his back, but then Blaine is rolling over and tugging him down into a filthy kiss, one broad palm curled around his cock.

Blaine moves down his body and sucks him slow and sweet, almost unbearably tender. Kurt is already close at the start, and Blaine refuses to bring him any closer, just tortures him with the soft, wet slide of his mouth, tight enough to keep him aching on the edge but not nearly enough to drag him over it. He laves delicately under the throbbing head of Kurt’s cock, darts his tongue into the slit, kisses his way down to the base and then licks back up to do it all over again. He cradles Kurt’s tight balls in one hand, rolls them ever-so-gently while his other hand is busy stroking Kurt’s cock in a slow, twisting rhythm.

“I can’t,” Kurt gasps, straining under Blaine’s ministrations. “More, I can’t, I need – “

“Ssssh.” Blaine pouts his swollen lips and presses a hot, sloppy kiss to Kurt’s cockhead. “You can. Just let me.”

Kurt’s half delirious by the end, desperate both for an orgasm and for Blaine to crawl back up into his arms where he belongs. Blaine was so far from him for so long; he doesn’t understand how he can miss him so much now, with Blaine’s mouth on him and Blaine’s arms curled possessively around his thighs. But oh, he does, he does, he – oh

Blaine stays down there for a long while afterward, as he sometimes does, his mouth gentle around Kurt’s hypersensitive cock. They’ve never talked about it, but Kurt gets the sense that Blaine finds it comforting in some way that he himself can’t really understand. Any other time, Kurt would let him linger as long as he wanted, but he feels strangely untethered tonight, after what Blaine has just put him through – insubstantial, like he might float away without Blaine’s weight to anchor him. He twines his fingers into Blaine’s damp curls and tugs him up, up, until Blaine is laid out heavy and loose on top of him and he’s warm all the way down to his bones.

The apartment is still around them, quiet but for the usual mysterious clanging sounds from the upstairs neighbors and the faint rumble and blare of distant street traffic. There’s music swelling in Kurt’s chest, wordless and joyful. He breathes with the melody, lets it guide the sweep of his hand up and down Blaine’s bare back.

“Thank you,” he whispers into the darkness.

He can’t see Blaine’s smile, but he can feel it, small and sleepy against his neck. “What for?”