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Breathe In Now

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There was nothing more embarrassing than getting something caught in your teeth at a work function, Kurt Hummel thought as he tried to subtly suck a strawberry seed from between his back teeth. His tongue just wasn’t sharp enough to get into the groove properly and there was no way he could stick his finger in his mouth and just hook it out like he so desperately wanted to do.

He had been trying for a few long minutes to dislodge the seed to no avail. He wanted to leave the conversation his boss was having with a few benefactors but he was the executive assistant and he couldn’t just leave no matter how much he wanted to.

Kurt grew frustrated with every passing moment. It was at the stage where all he could do was feel the seed with his tongue every time he went to speak or every time he breathed and it was driving him nuts.

Kurt waited for a break to appear in the conversation so he could dash off to the men’s room to dislodge the seed but luck just was not in his favour. He tapped his foot against the hardwood floor beneath his feet and promptly received a glare from his boss. He bit back a sigh and glanced around the room, all the while poking at his teeth with his tongue.

His gaze landed on someone across the room who was staring straight at him. Kurt flushed immediately, realising the guy had seen him probably pulling weird faces trying to dislodge the seed.

“Excuse me a moment, please,” Kurt said to his boss, Isabelle, and the people she was talking to.

He quickly darted away and headed for the men’s room and breathed a heavy sigh of relief when he realised he was alone. Kurt quickly used his fingernail to hook out the seed and immediately rinse off his finger and rinse out his mouth.

Kurt reached for the paper towel dispenser and pulled out a sheet to wipe down his face with as he looked at his reflection in the mirror. It was bad enough that he had hastily left his boss; it wouldn’t do him any good to go back looking like a drowned rat.

Kurt left the bathroom a few moments later and re-joined Isabelle, who turned to him and told him to mingle with the other guests at the party.

Work parties were something Kurt both loved and hated. Working for Vogue as the executive assistant to the fashion editor was both fun and hard work. Kurt got to experience so many things, meet so many people, and have a flawless wardrobe to boot but sometimes the work parties were utterly boring.

Especially when it was a party for the benefactors of the magazine, like this one was.

Of course Kurt knew that without them and their support and donations that the magazine would probably fail, so he was grateful for them but some of the people were so stuffy. Most of them probably didn’t even care about fashion like he did and they were just there because of their wives or daughters.

Kurt approached the bar and ordered himself a martini and leaned against the bar to wait for it.

“So, did you get it?”

Kurt looked over his shoulder at the man that had just approached him. He raised an eyebrow at him. “Get what?”

“Whatever was in your tooth?”

Kurt flushed, recognising that the man had caught him trying to get rid of the seed from his tooth before. “I did, thank you.”

“Good to know,” the other male replied. “I’m Blaine, by the way.”


The bartender put Kurt’s drink down in front of him and Blaine ordered the same drink as Kurt’s. Kurt noticed he had a kind, genuine smile and he wondered what Blaine was doing at the party; then he noticed the slight greying hair at Blaine’s temples. Kurt figured that meant Blaine was one of the many lawyers who represented Vogue , was a rich benefactor or something equally boring like the rest of the men Blaine’s age in the room.

Kurt took a sip of his drink, letting the cool liquid soothe his slightly sore tongue. He nodded at Blaine before leaving him at the bar to re-join the crowd of boring business people and to pretend that he was having a grand old time listening to them speak.

Thankfully the end of the night came sooner than Kurt expected and he was making his way out onto the busy New York streets to get a cab home. He just wanted to take off his shoes and go to bed.

He knew wearing new shoes to a party like this was going to have its side effects but he’d hoped that his shoes wouldn’t hurt his feet that much.

Kurt wrapped his coat around himself a little tighter, feeling the chill of the September air biting at his cheeks already. He hailed a cab and climbed in, giving his street name to the driver. He leaned back against the seats and pulled out his BlackBerry, instantly opening his calendar to check his schedule for the next day.

Kurt arrived back at his apartment, which he shared with three friends, a short while later. He immediately took off his shoes, slipped them into the closet by the door and sighed in relief.

He headed straight for the bathroom to take a long, hot shower. After his shower, he fell straight into bed, unable to function long enough to do anything else.

When Kurt awoke the next morning, it was to the sound of the front door slamming. He groaned and buried his head underneath his pillow. A door slam like that could only mean that one of his three room mates were unhappy and from the short, sharp sound, Kurt was pretty sure that it was Rachel.

Barely three seconds later, there was a knock on his bedroom door. Kurt contemplated ignoring it in favour of sleeping five more minutes. He knew that Rachel wouldn’t give up so easily though, so he called out to her and she came in moments later, a frown on her face.

Kurt wordlessly lifted the covers on the opposite side of the bed and Rachel crawled under the blankets and immediately curled around him. Kurt wrapped his arms around her small frame and just let her seek comfort from him.

He didn’t need to ask what had happened – Rachel had been dating a guy from her vocal class at NYADA and things between them had been getting more than a little tense lately. Kurt had witnessed a few arguments between them. Logan, the boyfriend (ex-boyfriend, Kurt’s mind corrected, if the door slamming was anything to go by), had recently got his first part in an off-Broadway show and ever since, he had been acting like a stuck up asshole. Kurt had told Rachel that Logan wasn’t good enough for her but Rachel was stubborn when it came to the things that she wanted.

Kurt wouldn’t say “I told you so” to her because even though he was right, he wasn’t that type of friend. He just wanted Rachel to be happy and Logan was never going to be able to do that. Rachel deserved the sun and the stars, she deserved love – true love – and Kurt wanted to see her happy, not settling for the first selfish idiot in one of her classes.

Eventually, Kurt had to get ready for work. Even though it was a Saturday, he had things that he had to do to prepare for Monday and he had a date that night with someone that Santana had set him up with. Hopefully this guy would actually be gay, unlike the guy that Mercedes had set him up with two weeks beforehand.

“Boys are jerks, Kurt,” Rachel grumbled from his bed as Kurt laid out his outfit for the day.

“I know, Rach,” Kurt agreed. He knew Rachel just needed to vent and get it off her chest and he had absolutely no problems with letting her do that. It’s what friends were for.

“He doesn’t even have that nice of a voice,” Rachel added vehemently. “Well, no, that’s a lie, even to my perfectly trained ears, he has a nice voice but he just sucks.”

Kurt smirked. “He does,” he replied. “And not in the good way, either.”

“Kurt!” Rachel exclaimed with a squeal, throwing a pillow at him. “We should go out tonight, just us girls.”

“I’d love to, sweetie,” Kurt said as he started to change out of his pyjamas. “But I have that blind date tonight.”

“Cancel?” Rachel asked pouting at him.

“It’s one of Santana’s friends – she’ll skin me alive if she finds out I cancelled,” Kurt explained. “Or you know I would in a heartbeat.”

Rachel pouted and let out a long suffering sigh and yanked his blankets over her face. “I should be a lesbian.”

“I’m sure all the girls would love you,” Kurt replied absent-mindedly, taking advantage of her sight being blocked to quickly get dressed. He finished and perched on the end of his bed to lace up his boots. “Just don’t sleep with Santana,” he added as an afterthought. “She’ll eat you alive and spit you back out.”

Kurt glanced over his shoulder at her and reached out a hand. “C’mon, let’s get something for breakfast before the others get up.”

They were half way through eating cereal together when Mercedes walked into the kitchen, half asleep, groping for the coffee pot. Kurt smiled as he watched her. Every morning was the same; Mercedes led a full, busy life, so coffee was as much a necessity for her as it was for the rest of them. She could barely function without that first cup in the morning. Most days she could barely find the coffee pot and pour herself a mug.

Santana sauntered into the kitchen a few moments later, looking absolutely impeccable, as always. She was wearing an amazing pair of Jimmy Choo heels that Kurt often found himself envying and she flashed them all a smirk.

“Morning,” she greeted as she filled her thermos with coffee when Mercedes put the pot back down. “Mama’s going to go woo some big ass clients today.”

“How you got a job at a law firm before even finishing school is beyond me,” Rachel piped up.

Santana winked at her. “That’s because I’m just that good.” She blew them all a kiss before leaving the room, heels clacking on the hardwood floor as she left their apartment.

“She is way too perky for this time of the morning,” Mercedes grumbled into her mug.

Kurt smiled and shook his head. “Just imagine what she’ll be like when she’s actually working proper cases, not just sitting in on meetings.”

Mercedes and Rachel groaned in unison at the thought.

“Alright, ladies,” Kurt said. “I shall see you both later. Have a great day.”

Kurt took his thermos full of coffee off the counter and left Mercedes and Rachel in the kitchen to finish breakfast together.

By the time Kurt got to the Vogue building, he was late. He didn’t really have a set time that he had to arrive by but he wanted to get there as soon as possible to get what he needed done so he could go home and prepare for his blind date.

He couldn’t believe he’d let Santana talk him into going on this date. He wasn’t even sure that Santana knew the kinds of guys he liked. Mercedes at least had some idea but the guy was straight, which had been rather embarrassing for them both. At least he hadn’t been a homophobe. He had been flattered and they had finished their coffees before parting ways, so Kurt didn’t count the night as a total loss.

Kurt exited the elevator onto his floor and made his way down to his office to put his coat down and to log onto his computer. He took a sip from his thermos and crinkled his nose at the taste. He had forgotten to put sugar in it. With a sigh, Kurt got up to head to the staff kitchen at the other end of the building.

He passed a few other people who had also decided to come into work on Saturday and he gave them a small, courteous nod.

Kurt rounded the corner into the kitchen and immediately collided with someone else. He gasped as he felt hot liquid coating his hand and he looked down to see that the person he had bumped into was covered in coffee from both his own mug and from Kurt’s thermos, which he hadn’t bothered to put the lid back on when he was at his desk.

“Oh my god, I am so sorry!” Kurt exclaimed immediately grabbing some paper towel from the counter to mop up the guy’s chest and his own hand.

“It’s okay,” the guy replied, placing his hand on top of Kurt’s own. “I’ll just take it off.”

“Oh,” Kurt said, startled. “Okay.”

The guy looked vaguely familiar but Kurt figured he was one of the many, many workers he hadn’t met yet – probably from a different floor.

The guy whipped off his shirt, revealing a light grey tank top that was stuck to his skin from the wet patch of coffee on the front. Kurt couldn’t help but stare. This guy had an amazing body.

“At least I’m in the right place for clothes, huh?” the guy said, peeling off the tank top as well.

“Uh huh,” Kurt replied dumbly, unable to take his eyes off the guy’s stomach as more skin was revealed. He had to force himself to look away – it wouldn’t do to ogle someone and for Isabelle to find out. Isabelle was lovely and open with her own affections towards certain people but she wouldn’t be happy with a sexual harrassment lawsuit if Kurt was caught leering.

“Here,” Kurt said, coming to his senses. “I can get that out if you want?”

The guy shook his head. “No, it’s fine,” he replied. “I have a sweater in my bag; I can just wear that instead.”

“Are you sure? Like you said, you are in the right place for clothes, after all.”

The man smiled and Kurt felt his toes tingling just looking at it. “I’m sure. You’re Kurt, right?”

Kurt nodded. “I am,” he replied. “Please don’t tell Isabelle,” he added, panicked.

The guy chuckled. “I won’t tell her,” he replied. “Promise.”

Kurt sighed in relief.

“I’m Blaine, we briefly met last night,” the guy continued. “You had something stuck in your tooth…”

Kurt flushed and put a hand to his forehead. “This is so embarrassing.”

The guy – Blaine – chuckled again. “I’ve experienced worse.”

Kurt sincerely doubted it. Blaine was standing there, in the middle of the Vogue staff kitchen, shirtless, looking like some kind of Adonis and Kurt couldn’t think of a single thing that the guy had ever done that would be as embarrassing as Kurt felt right then and had the night before.

“Uncle Blaine are you – why are you shirtless?”

Kurt looked up at the female voice that had suddenly joined their conversation. “Oh, that’s my fault,” he said immediately. “I accidentally spilled coffee on… your uncle?”

Blaine nodded. “I’m here with Audrey to do a photoshoot.”

“I… You’re… You’re a model?” Kurt stuttered.

Blaine smiled his distractingly charming smile again. “Today I am.”

Kurt forced himself not to lick his lips in response.

“C’mon, Uncle Blaine, we’re going to fall behind,” Audrey insisted.

“I’d better go,” Blaine replied.

Kurt nodded and gave Blaine a small wave as he left, still shirtless and possibly the best looking guy Kurt had ever seen.

Kurt slumped against the kitchen counter and sighed. He had never been so embarrassed in his adult life.


Blaine followed Audrey back to the other room, still completely shirtless from his incident with the guy in the Vogue kitchens. He couldn’t help but smile to himself as he pictured Kurt’s flustered face in his mind. It was kind of endearing.

“Uncle Blaine, not that you don’t have a hot body, from a completely objective and non-creepily incestuous standpoint, I mean, but why did you strip in front of that Kurt guy instead of going to the men’s room?” Audrey asked as they walked.

“Oh,” Blaine said. “I don’t know.”

“Mmmhmm,” Audrey replied with a smile. “Sure you don’t. I’m sure it wasn’t just so you could get shirtless in front Kurt back there?”

Blaine chuckled. “No, of course not,” he replied. “Besides, I think he’s a little too young for me.”

“Whatever, Uncle Blaine, you’re a fox – even dad says so,” Audrey admonished.

“Yeah, well, Cooper still thinks that he’s a fox and he’s fifty three now.” They stopped just before entering the room so Blaine could get his sweater out. He knew he was just going to have to change again anyway but he didn’t want to walk into the shoot shirtless - that wouldn’t do any good for Audrey at all.

“My dad is a fox,” Audrey replied with a grin. “C’mon, I want to get this photoshoot done with my hot uncle so I can send it to the modelling agencies!”

“I still don’t get why you wanted me in your shoot, Aud,” Blaine said as he pulled his sweater over his head. He straightened it around his body and followed her back into the room where they were doing the photoshoot.

He watched as some of the Vogue employees fawned over Audrey, fixing her hair and make-up one last time. His sweater was deemed nice enough for the shoot, which Blaine was thankful for, and he set about to pose with Audrey.

She was insistent on being a model and since Cooper’s law firm, Anderson and Sons, were not only large benefactors to the magazine but had been representing the magazine for decades now, it gave Audrey the opportunity to have her modelling dream.

Blaine was just her prop today. He didn’t mind it - he loved his niece more than anything and he would do whatever he could to help her career.

He was thankful that he didn’t have to do much beyond make Audrey look pretty. Hopefully he wouldn’t come off as some creepy older guy, he didn’t want that, but Audrey had assured him that he didn’t look older than thirty, which was nice to hear, even if he knew it was a blatant lie.

Blaine didn’t mind his age. He was forty-three and his forty-fourth birthday was in a few short months. He had lived a good life so far. Sure, he had been through his ups and downs, including giving up practising law with his father and brother (and soon to be Cooper’s son, Grant, when he was old enough and had gone through law school; and Cooper’s eldest twin sons, Charles and Eric were already working in the firm). It wasn’t something that Blaine regretted.

He had been through a lot in the last decade and not all of it was a career change.

He had met Dale in his second year of law school. Dale was smart, handsome, had a smile that could charm just about anyone. He was a third year law student and absolutely swept Blaine off his feet.

They had dated for a long time before Dale had given Blaine a key to his place and told him to make himself at home.

Blaine loved Dale more than he had ever loved anyone else. He had been in other, short term relationships with a few different men before meeting Dale but once he had seen that smile, felt that hand holding his and those lips kissing his own, there was absolutely no one else in the world that Blaine wanted.

They were together for almost fifteen years when Dale cheated on Blaine with a guy who Blaine wasn’t even sure spoke English.

In hindsight, Blaine could spot the signs. During the last few years of their relationship, Dale began to take a lot of business trips out of the country. He said he was thinking of setting up a firm in France or somewhere European. Blaine had been excited – thinking they would make the move together – but Dale never invited Blaine along. In the beginning, he didn’t mind, he was too wrapped up in his own work - being a lawyer was a tough job and working with his father and brother had been gruelling at the best of times.

Then one afternoon, Blaine had left the office early for an optometrist appointment and he headed home straight afterwards to find Dale in bed with the guy - Paulo - and Blaine had walked out.

It was clear from that point on that Dale hadn’t been happy with him and even though it had hurt so much at the time, catching him like that, in the bed they had shared for more than a decade, Blaine knew there was no point in staying with someone who didn’t love him.

So he broke up with Dale. He had moved into a new apartment of his own less than a week later and with the support of his friends and family, he got through it.

It was shortly after the break up that Blaine realised he didn’t want to be a lawyer anymore. He didn’t want to deal with the corporate world and he didn’t want to run into Dale either.

After he had given his father his notice, Blaine took six months off to figure out what he wanted to do.

Two weeks later, he literally stumbled into a new career as a high school counsellor. He had been speaking to one of his closest friends, Tina Cohen-Chang, and she mentioned that a change like that might be good for him. Blaine studied part-time and was trained on the job by the previous counsellor a few months after he started studying and it felt right to be able to help teenagers the way he wished he had been when he was in high school.

As a teenager, he struggled with his sexuality and had only known one other boy in his year that had been gay. The other boy hadn’t come out until a long time after college and for the most part, Blaine couldn’t blame him. It was tough on the best of days to come out to friends and family but Blaine was lucky, for the most part. His parents, while unhappy that Blaine would choose to be gay, didn’t mention it or make a big deal about it like he had initially thought they would.

He had wished on so many occasions that there had been someone to talk to. Cooper was in his mid-twenties when Blaine was discovering who he was and while he said he would always be there for Blaine, Blaine knew that Cooper’s life and his studies were far more important than his little brother’s crisis. That’s why being a high school counsellor felt like the perfect path for Blaine – he could be there for the students when no one else in their lives could be. He would offer judgement free sessions and would help make their lives easier in any way possible.

It was tough, adjusting to a new job, a new life and a new home, but Blaine was able to do it. He had his bad days, just like everyone else, but he was happy and that’s what counted.

He had been a high school counsellor for three years and he loved it. It was a flexible job; it allowed him to create his own hours for the most part, as long as he was present during most school hours and some after hours.

His previous role at Anderson and Sons law firm still had him linked with Vogue magazine and he was good friends with some of the photographers and higher ups, which led him to amazing things like being able to help Audrey do a photoshoot out of regular working hours.

Audrey’s arms swinging around his shoulders brought Blaine back to the present. He let her jump on his back and they both smiled for the camera. He was pretty sure the shoot made him come across as her father, which he could live with.

“So, Uncle Blaine,” Audrey said once they were done for the afternoon. “Are you going to get that cute guy’s number or am I going to have to do all of the work for you again?”

Blaine playfully rolled his eyes at her. “That was once, missy, don’t get cocky.”

Audrey grinned. “So is that a yes?”

“No,” Blaine replied. “I don’t think a young guy like Kurt would want to date an old man like me.”

Audrey snorted indelicately. Blaine loved that about her. “He’d be a fool not to. Who knows? Maybe he likes older men! There’s only one way to find out.”

Audrey pressed a kiss to his cheek before leaving Blaine standing to the side, a little stunned, while she went and checked the photos that had just been taken.

Blaine shook his head and tried not to think about standing in the Vogue kitchen shirtless while Kurt stumbled his way through an apology.