He doesn’t want to wear the black bowtie. The orange and black feels too much like Halloween, and though that’s approaching, it’s too soon to break out the theme outfits. But the brown one is missing and now that he’s decided to wear one he can’t just give up - every spy needs a Bond girl (or boy) and Blaine wants to look the part.
“T, does Mike still have my brown bowtie?” Blaine yells from where he’s hunched over his dresser, rifling through the scraps of fabric. “The one with the leaves on it?”
“Oh. Um.” Blaine jolts in surprise, hitting his wrist on the corner of the drawer and hissing when her voice comes not from down the hall where she’d been camped out on the couch, but instead from his doorway.
“We may have...sullied it?” she offers, hands already raising in defense. “I’ll buy you a new one, I promise. Hey,” she frowns when Blaine’s eyes narrow into a glare. “Would you rather I’d given it back so you could wear a tie that Mike--”
“Do not finish that sentence. Just, go. Go away and do not finish that sentence.”
“Why are you matching bowties to your uniform, anyway?” Tina asks, blatantly ignoring Blaine’s dismissal but at least she’s talking about something else now so he allows it, even when she sits right on top of the reject pile. “Jitters isn’t exactly formal. There’s a dancing coffee bean on your shirt.”
“Drrrzaguh,” Blaine mumbles into his sock drawer, searching there just in case he’s forgotten about a different brown tie (he hasn’t) and it’s gone rogue.
“What was that?”
“There’s a guy,” Blaine sighs as Tina sits up straighter, eyes suddenly bright with curiosity. “Not like that, stop looking so excited, just - a guy who comes into Jitters most mornings.”
“Aww, you’re trying to impress him,” Tina grins, her voice going all squeaky like it does when she thinks Blaine is being particularly adorable. These moments usually coincide with the moments Blaine thinks Tina is being particularly annoying. Go figure.
“So who is this guy? What’s his name? Is he in school? What’s his story?”
“His name is Kurt,” Blaine says, and he can’t help the smile that comes with it. It seems to happen every time he says Kurt’s name. Luckily he can play it off as friendly customer service at the shop, and every other time he’s said it he’s been alone in his room so there hasn’t been anyone around to coo at him the way Tina is right now.
“And...I don’t know?”
“Blaine,” Tina starts, her amusement tinged by pity as she ticks Blaine over from Adorable to Hopeless on her mental judgment scale. “You don’t know anything about him?”
“I think he might be a superspy who needs my help in stopping the biggest fine art heist of the 21st century?” Blaine offers weakly, and Tina flops backwards onto his bed, an arm thrown over her eyes.
“You already gave yourself a Bond Girl name, didn’t you?”
Tina lifts her arm, staring evenly at him as he fidgets with the fabric in his hands.
In the time it takes Tina to stop laughing, Blaine manages to roll her off the pile of bowties, reorganize them in their drawer, and call for a pizza. Which he charges to her credit card.
“It’s not my fault,” Blaine says, collapsing next to a still snorting Tina on his bed. “You and Santana have been talking about my ass all month. I’m developing a complex.”
“Shh, sweetie, no,” Tina giggles, reaching out blindly to pat Blaine’s hip. “You wear this ass with pride.” They’re quiet for a few minutes as Tina’s laughter dies out. “Have you ever talked to him?”
“I give him his coffee every morning.”
“You know what I mean.”
“You should. It won’t be like--”
“The leaf bowtie was from Brooks Brothers, if you want to replace it. I liked that one,” Blaine interrupts, pulling himself off of the bed and hoping that Tina takes the hint. He’s really not in the mood for the latest installment of Tina’s romance pep talks.
“I’m going to have to wear the black one tomorrow. Ugh, I’m going to look like a pumpkin.” He holds the polo up, draping the black bowtie (matte with a textured pinstripe) over the shoulder.
“Well we can’t do anything about the color, but I have an idea,” Tina says as she stands up. She takes the shirt from Blaine’s hands and heads down the hall to her own room, pep talk forgotten.
Santana laughs for ten straight minutes when he gets to work and she keeps yelling, “It’s the great pumpkin, Charlie Brown!” every time he rounds a corner or comes back from the kitchen, but Blaine doesn’t care. He looks damn good in a bowtie and if super secret spy Kurt is going to rely on him for help then he needs to look the part.
At least Santana hasn’t noticed that Tina helped him take in his polos last night so they’re snug around his waist and biceps.
Kurt doesn’t show up at his normal time. Blaine tries not to be disappointed, even though he stayed up late altering clothes. Things happen; he probably has a million time commitments (like protecting priceless art from a world-renowned thief) that are more important than sitting in a coffee shop. But lately he’s the only interesting thing in Blaine’s otherwise mundane life.
It’s almost 9:30 when Blaine finally spots him. He’s just outside the window (the window he usually sits at), pacing the sidewalk with the phone to his ear. He’s speaking rapidly, ignoring the dirty looks he’s getting from other pedestrians as they dodge around him. He looks distressed, at least in the brief glimpses Blaine catches of him each time he abruptly turns to change directions; he keeps running a hand through his hair, almost tugging at it, and even though Blaine barely knows him, that seems like a very un-Kurt thing to do.
It’s another ten minutes before Kurt hangs up the phone, and even then he doesn’t come inside, just leans back against the window and takes what looks like a very deep breath before tilting his head back to rest against the glass. Blaine tries not to stare at where his ass is also pressed against the glass and mostly fails. He’s really glad Santana is at the bank; she’d never let him live it down.
When Kurt still hasn’t come inside five minutes later, is still just standing against the front window and staring up into the sky, Blaine takes a deep breath of his own, closing his eyes for a moment before starting the espresso machine. He's almost out the door before he remembers to pull his apron off, tossing it under a nearby table.
“Nonfat mocha for Kurt?” Blaine asks softly, barely louder than the bells jingling against the front door as he slips outside. Any louder and he’s worried his voice would crack, but Kurt seems to hear him just fine, with the way he startles and not so subtly runs the back of his hand across his face before looking at Blaine with wide eyes.
“So you can speak,” Kurt says, giving Blaine the same beginning of a smile he has been for weeks. “I was beginning to think there was a sea witch who needed a stern reprimand.” Blaine chuckles quietly and shrugs, the movement bringing Kurt’s eyes back to the coffee in his hand. “You know my coffee order?”
“Of course I do,” Blaine mumbles, smiling back as he hands it over and waving Kurt off when he goes for his wallet. “On me. You looked like you could use it.”
“One of those days,” Kurt nods, closing his eyes the way he always does with the first sip and opening them again to look over the lid at Blaine. “One of those days it’s barely even started yet, ugh.” He shakes his head quickly, like he’s trying to shake the thoughts right out of it, and gestures to the cup. “Thank you, Blaine. This was really nice of you. You have restored my faith in humanity.”
“I do what I can,” Blaine shrugs. He can feel the heat in the back of his neck but hopes that he isn’t blushing too severely. Regardless of whether or not he can pull off orange, he definitely cannot pull off red and orange.
“I actually wanted to ask--” Kurt starts, but he’s cut off by a large group of college girls bustling past Blaine into the shop.
“I have to go,” Blaine cuts him off with a slightly manic wave to the door, already backing toward it. “I’m the only one here - Have a good day. Or a better one. I -”
“Sure, of course,” Kurt nods, his own hand much more graceful as he gestures to the group of girls inside before lifting his cup. “Thanks, again, maybe--”
He’s cut off by the door closing, and Blaine doesn’t think he’s imagining the slight frown he’d seen right before he turned to jog behind the counter. He doesn’t know what Kurt “wanted to ask” but he’s more grateful than disappointed at this point, because he’d used up his pre-determined ration of small talk and, had he stood there any longer, surely would’ve devolved into mildly panicked, potentially offensive rambling.
Kurt’s still visible through the front window when Blaine starts taking orders - they all want frappes, of course, ugh, this is going to take forever; hopefully Santana gets back soon - and he looks like he’s thinking about coming inside to finish his coffee. Blaine’s torn between hope and panic; he always likes seeing Kurt but whatever that was outside (conversation, normal people would call it), he doesn’t know keep it going right now. He needs to plan for things like these; otherwise he’s going to accidentally zone out staring at Kurt and Kurt will ask him something and he’ll blurt out “Your eyes” and then find out that Kurt had asked what his favorite food was and...there’s just no way spontaneous conversation can lead to anything good, not today.
Santana doesn’t make it back in time to help and by the time Blaine finishes the last round of blending, Kurt is nowhere to be seen. Blaine’s relief is tinged with disappointment, part of him wondering if maybe it would have been easy like it always is in his head, if he’d just tried.
Blaine had talked, at least. And even though Kurt hadn’t confessed his secret identity and given him a spy mission, he’d smiled.
That’s enough for today.
Blaine has gotten so used to showing up to the Tisch administrative building and being disappointed that he walks right past the production list. It takes Marcia’s scoff and surprisingly firm grip on his arm as she wheels him back around for him to notice that the display case isn’t empty anymore.
“It’s a wonder you don’t walk right into traffic, with how observant you are,” Marcia mutters, but she stands next to him, watching as his eyes scan the lists. He skips over the dramas for now; he’s musical theater and wants to see the musicals before he considers anything else.
The first title makes his stomach drop a little: Nunsense. There aren’t even any male parts in that show. But, oh, right, there’s that cluster of senior girls who rumor has it have been Paulson’s favorites since even before he was the Dean. It makes sense that he wants to showcase them. That doesn’t stop Blaine from rolling his eyes.
“Put the claws away,” Marcia laughs - she must have heard his huff, because he doesn’t think he’s yet mastered the ability to roll his eyes hard enough for people to hear it - and unnecessarily shoves him closer to the list. “Keep reading.”
“Looks like all that junk you put in your hair might come in handy.” Marcia’s voice breaks Blaine out of his stupor. This is a good show. This is a good show for him. He doesn’t even bother with the rest of the list. He really has a shot at--
“Hey,” he frowns when her words sink in, a hand unconsciously going up to smooth over the top of his head. “If you saw what this looks like without all this junk you’d understand. These are...pretty modern,” he says, waving toward the list. “I’m surprised. I thought Guys and Dolls was a sure thing.”
“So did he. What do you think was holding him up? We basically had to hold an intervention and point out that if he didn’t post a list there wouldn’t be any shows this year and the board probably wouldn’t look too favorably on the new Dean if that happened.”
“We?” Blaine grins when Marcia raises an eyebrow.
“The royal we, smartass. Now, the list is up, tell me you’re happy.”
“Good. Now leave, unless you brought me coffee, in which case give me the coffee and then leave.”
Blaine wants to kiss Marcia on the cheek, but that seems like far too much, so he settles for twirling her in a circle. Or rather, trying to, because she plants her feet and gives him a look that plainly says, “I don’t twirl” so he just shrugs and does a spin of his own before heading for the door, feeling lighter than he has in days.
The weekend passes quickly, between agonizing over audition songs with Tina and then being forced into a de-stressing guys’ night with Mike that ends with losing a bet and the worst hangover Blaine has ever had in his life and so much gloating from Mike that Blaine is now officially terrified of Halloween. Mike’s parting yell of “I’ll let you know when your costume’s ready!” and the mischievous glint in his eyes worry Blaine more than the fact that he has literally no idea where his left shoe is. And those shoes are his favorites; he needs to stop loaning or otherwise allowing his favorite accessories to be in Mike Chang’s presence, because first it was the tie and now it’s a shoe and, frankly, he’s worried for his messenger bag’s safety.
Blaine wears a bowtie again Monday morning; he knows Kurt isn’t a spy (probably) and he himself isn’t a Bond girl (yet) but he likes it. He’s been wearing ties since boarding school, and something about the slight pressure of a knot at his throat is comforting, makes him feel more secure and confident. Besides, Kurt is always so impeccably put together, Blaine figures it can’t hurt to put in a little effort.
Not that he’s doing this for Kurt.
It doesn’t matter, anyway, because Kurt doesn’t show up on Monday. Or Tuesday. And Santana shakes her head without even offering a snarky comment when Blaine comes in Thursday morning, which he takes to mean Kurt wasn’t in on Wednesday. There’s no sign of Rachel, either, and Blaine is actually a little worried.
He was totally weird last week when he gave Kurt that coffee; that’s the only explanation. It was too forward and then he’d just stood there and stared like a giant creep and Kurt is probably too uncomfortable to come back, and has kept Rachel away so Blaine can’t ask about him and Blaine’s never going to see him again. Which maybe shouldn’t affect him the way it does, but his stomach feels hollow at the thought of Kurt just disappearing from his life, even if Blaine hasn’t been able to say more than a few dozen words to him.
Kurt doesn’t show up Friday, either, and the only thing that stops Blaine from completely spiraling over the absence is that he is too busy spiraling over the fact that the Hairspray auditions are this weekend and the week he’s had to prepare has been exactly enough time to convince him that he should give up on the acting thing and maybe become a dentist (except, gross).
He’s been watching both versions of the movie (and a bootleg of the last Broadway run) all week and he’s never been so glad to have a roommate who once had her own performance aspirations, because instead of getting annoyed and locking him in his bedroom, she’s woken him up every morning by slamming his door open and belting out, “Good morning Baaaaaaaltimore” (and god he wishes she’d reconsider performing, even if it’s only in her spare time) and has even been teasing her hair every night to make running lines “more authentic.”
Mike has been over most nights, too, helping him with his dancing; he can now mashed potato with the best of them and yesterday he told Tina she was the cat’s pajamas and they weren’t even rehearsing.
Maybe it’s a good thing the auditions are tomorrow.
It’s well into the evening before Blaine stumbles (literally stumbles - he hasn’t been able to feel his feet since about three this afternoon) through his front door and Tina catches him, steering him more steadily toward the sofa before she lets him collapse. She leaves him for a minute, and when she comes back it’s to set a big glass of water and a mug full of steaming tea in front of him before she sits down, barely concealing her curiosity as she stares at him with wide, expectant eyes.
“Well?” she finally asks, poking him in the side and making him groan. He whines around his tea when she keeps poking, a wordless plea for a momentary reprieve, and luckily he communicates with Tina this way often enough that she gets it. He knows she’s impatient (she’s been texting him all day, by the end of the afternoon the messages just devolving into punctuation marks as her excitement grew) and he wants to talk about everything, but he has completely sweated through his clothes and every inch of his body is sore and tired and his brain feels like it’s leaking out of his ears.
“If you run me a bath with that foamy vanilla stuff you use,” Blaine says when he puts the empty mug down, looking up at Tina with what he knows are his best puppy eyes. “Then I will give you a minute by minute rundown of my day.”
The puppy eyes must work (they always do) because Tina hops up without complaint and Blaine hears the water running a few moments later. He feels like a zombie stumbling the short distance to the bathroom down the hall. All of the muscles in his legs are trying to cramp and he actually falls into the wall at one point, right before he reaches the door, making Tina jump and frown at him as he drags himself into the bathroom.
“I’m just gonna avert my eyes until you get in the tub,” she says carefully, like she’s talking to a small child or a crazy person, and holds her arms out, extended toward Blaine. “So if you fall, I have at least a shot at catching you before you crack your head open.”
Blaine scowls, but then every muscle in his right leg cramps at once and he pitches to the side, forced to steady himself against the sink. “Maybe not the worst idea,” he shrugs. Even if he was worried about Tina seeing him naked (and that ship sailed long ago; she has the habit of knocking as she opens doors instead of before, which makes the knocking completely useless in the first place) he’s too tired for modesty so he just strips off his clothes and hobbles around her to the bathtub, hissing at the heat of the water and making a completely inappropriate sound as he sinks in. She went heavy on the bubble bath and he’s covered from the chest down in fluffy, delicious smelling white foam.
“No falling asleep!” Tina yells, voice echoing in the tiny room, and Blaine’s eyes snap open. He doesn’t even remember closing them; he’s just so comfortable.
“I don’t find out until Wednesday,” he starts, wiggling his toes a little under the water as the feeling starts returning to his feet. “But I think...I think I have a shot.”
He hadn’t been the only one with slicked back hair, but he was the only one who didn’t look like he was trying too hard, he knows. He’s always worn his hair like this, and the director had even said that, commented almost immediately that the show was “right up Anderson’s alley.” Blaine had tried not to preen too obviously; it probably didn’t work, judging by the looks he received from his classmates.
Normally, he would’ve just done his monologue and his prepared song, then a few dance assessments in small groups, and waited to see if he’d gotten a callback; that’s how it always was last year, and how it’s been pretty much anytime he’s auditioned for a show. But because Dean Paulson took so long to post the shows, and it’s the first show scheduled to go up, everything had been in one day. (“You should all be familiar enough with the show that this isn’t a hardship,” he’d said when he announced the process that morning, and they’d all known better than to say anything to the contrary.)
So he’d done his monologue, which was fine, and his song, which was as close to perfect as he was ever going to get. And then waited around for a long time while everyone else finished, restless in his attempts to keep his muscles loose. He’d messed up a little on one of the combinations the choreographer had shown them, but so had almost everyone else (feet don’t do that, he’s pretty sure not even Mike would do that properly on the first try). Then there was a lot more waiting and then...
“I got a callback,” he grins, and Tina gasps appropriately even though he’s pretty sure she figured that out already, given how late it was when he got home. “Me and that guy Brian, remember him, his eyes and nose and mouth are all way too close together in the middle of his face? And this freshman, something with a D, I can’t even remember, but he kept leering at me trying to distract me. It was annoying.” Tina rolls her eyes at that and looks like she’s going to say something, but she doesn’t, so he continues, turning the hot water back on for a minute and leaning toward her a little now that most of his back is unknotted.
“But we all had to sing Ladies’ Choice and D-whatever couldn’t stay on beat to save his life and Brian was ok but it just felt really flat, ya know? But I--”
“Bubbles, Blaine,” Tina interrupts, and Blaine glances down to see that he’s been rising out of the water as he leans toward her and is now flashing her.
“Whoops,” he grins as he sinks back down. “Anyway, I did that thing where I slid on my knees with the mic stand, like I practiced -” Blaine scowls when Tina laughs, because he knows she’s thinking about him hitting himself in the balls with the Swiffer the first time he’d tried it. “Shut up. I did it, and it was perfect, and they loved me.”
“I knew they would,” Tina smiles, and Blaine kicks his legs and accidentally shrieks a little in excitement, the reality of the day hitting him. He could get this part.
“Tell anyone I made that noise and you’ll be sorry,” he warns, pointing a sudsy finger at her, but even he doesn’t believe the threat.