Title: You Are the Ballon to My Grand Battement
Spoilers: 3.13 (Heart)
Word Count: 4,849
Warnings: One reference to a sex act that doesn't occur in the story, mild language
Disclaimer: I don't own Glee, and I don't make any money writing this stuff.
Summary: Kurt's Valentine's Days have changed over the years.
Author's note: I set out to write a fluffy Valentine's gift for t_megagirl. It didn't quite work out to be all fluffy, but I'm crossing my fingers that it comes across as sweet and hopeful, anyway. ~ Ballon describes a springy vertical jump in ballet. Grand battement is a high kick. ~ Thanks to anxioussquirrel for reading through the parts I'd written before she went to bed. Anything that doesn't work happened because I stayed up past her. ~ And thanks to verdandil for fixing my French! ~ As always, comments and questions encouraged!
Valentine's Day, 1998
When he finishes decorating the heart-shaped sugar cookie given to him by Mrs. Hummel, he looks at it proudly before handing it to Kurt.
"I put lots of glitter sprinkles on it because you like them," Toby says, beaming. "Now you can be my Valentine."
Kurt looks up from the cookie he is assiduously decorating and throws an arm around Toby, who is sitting next to him on the bench of the plastic play table. "Thanks. You can be my Valentine, too. But this cookie – " he points to his work of art " – is for my mom. I'll make yours next."
Toby is nonplussed at this news. He understands that filial love takes priority over romantic love at this age. He is, after all, four years old as well.
"What about me?" Jennifer whines from across the table, swirling her fingers around in the pile of pink frosting she's mounded on top of her heart. She seems more interested in licking the excess off of her fingers than in adding any beauty to it with sprinkles and silver nonpareils. Kurt really doesn't understand her. "Isn't anyone going to make me a cookie?"
"My next one if for you," says Toby, taking a bite out of an unfrosted cookie. Jennifer looks appeased. "But you can't be my Valentine."
"But I want to!" Jennifer snaps. "I want to be everybody's Valentine."
Mrs. Hummel pipes in from her spot at the kitchen counter, where she's unloading the next batch of cookies onto cooling racks. "Be nice, Toby."
"But she can't, Mrs. Hummel. I'm gay."
Mrs. Hummel looks up at Toby quizzically, something between a question and a laugh forming on her face. "Oh, I didn't know," she finally says. "Are you sure?"
"Yes," Toby says. "My mom said that gay is when two boys hug and kiss and get married. I hug and kiss Kurt and I'm going to marry him when I grow up, so I'm gay."
Kurt blushes delightedly at the news. Toby and he have played at being married countless times – Kurt does the cooking, Toby rocks the baby – but he didn't know that they're actually going to get married one day.
"Well," Mrs. Hummel says, resuming her task of sliding the cookies one by one onto the racks, "you'll have to ask Kurt first if he's okay with that. When two people get married, it has to be both their decision."
"It's fine, Mom," Kurt says. "I'll marry Toby. He'll be a good father."
Toby leans in and rubs his nose against Kurt's cheek.
"That tickles!" Kurt squeals, but he doesn't really mind.
Jennifer huffs. "You still have to make me a cookie, Toby."
"I will," Toby says. "I love you, too. Kurt will be my husband and you can be my sister."
"Okay," Jennifer sighs, but soon she is humming happily to herself and licking more icing off of her fingers, so the solution must suffice.
Valentine's Day, 2001
Kurt barely remembers Toby now. His family moved to Pittsburgh in the spring of 1998, and though their parents keep in touch, the boys' low literacy levels don't make it easy to write love letters. So they don't.
Besides, Kurt has someone else in his heart now. Marcus Kramer is funny and friendly and has pretty, soft hair. He never plays rough on the playground and he can jump higher than everyone else in their ballet class. Kurt wishes he could jump that high (even though Madame Braun says it's not how high you can jump, it's how lightly), and Marcus has even tried to show him how he does it, but Kurt's not quite there yet. But Kurt can kick higher than Marcus, and Marcus is impressed with that, so it's not all hopeless.
Burt Hummel drops Kurt off at ballet class after school on Monday. Kurt is excited because everybody loved his Valentines at school today, and everyone here is going to love them, too. Especially Marcus, because he made the best one for him.
But as soon as Kurt walks into the dance room, Florence is in his face, shouting, "Marcus is going to be my boyfriend!"
Kurt's not sure if this is a statement of fact or a threat until he sees that Marcus is right behind her, clinging to her hand and giggling.
"We're going to be ballet partners and I'll do the fish dive and he'll catch me, just like in Swan Lake!" Florence's enthusiasm would be admirable, if it weren't simultaneously dashing all of Kurt's hopes and dreams.
Somehow, Kurt remembers his manners. "I'm happy for you," he says, and reaches into his bag to find Florence's card – a red construction paper heart with a ballerina (drawn with the help of his mother) that he outlined with glue and decked in glitter.
Florence waves it around excitedly, some of the glitter falling loose from it like snow, but she doesn't seem to notice. Specks of it land on the front of her white leotard to becoming effect. "Oh, it's beautiful, Kurt!" she squeaks, throwing her arms around him. "Let me go get yours!" She drops Marcus' hand and runs across the room to find her bag among the large pile of totes in front of the mirrors.
Marcus has his satchel with him and pulls out a small card from the front pocket. It's one of those store-bought cards that comes in packs of 12 or 24 at the grocery store. "See?" he says, handing it to Kurt. "It's Red Lightspeed Ranger. I remembered he was your favorite."
"Thanks," Kurt says, and he doesn't know whether to smile or to cry, because Marcus remembered Kurt's favorite Ranger. But when Marcus plays Power Ranger weddings alone in his room, he's probably not marrying the Red Lightspeed Ranger off to the boys. He probably sets him up with – yuck – Pink Lightspeed Ranger.
Kurt opens his bag and is about to pull out Marcus' card – it's easy to spot, it's the biggest one there – but then he stops and looks Marcus in the eye. "I'm sorry," he says. "I forgot to make you one."
Kurt's not sure if that's a disappointed look on Marcus' face, but if it is, Marcus covers it up quickly with a smile when Florence returns.
"Did everyone like their cards?" Burt says later when they're driving home.
"Yes," Kurt says. "The girls liked the ballerinas and glitter."
"What about the boy?" asks Burt.
"I didn't give him one," Kurt sighs and kicks the back of the seat. It's the passenger seat, and it's empty, so his dad probably won't yell at him for that. "I'm getting too old to give Valentine's cards to boys."
"Huh," says Burt. "I don't know. You're never too old to tell people you care about them. Like me. I'm old, but I'm gonna tell you right now: I love you, kiddo."
"I love you, too, Dad," Kurt says, but the words are rote and pouty and petulant, and Kurt is still kicking the back of the seat.
When Kurt goes up to his room, he doesn't open his bag to look through his Valentines – not even to dig out the ones with lollipops and Hershey's Kisses and tiny bags of M&Ms taped to them. He can't stand to look at that largest Valentine of all yet – the one that's cut out from an entire piece of red construction paper. Kurt drew the two dancers on it himself – it was easy, because there were no tutus to worry about, just one stick figure jumping and another kicking high. "You are the ballon to my grand battement," it read in silver glitter pen. That was the hardest part, copying those French words out.
Well, no. The hardest part was finding out that Marcus is never, ever, going to be the ballon to Kurt's grand battement. He wonders if anyone ever will.
Valentine's Day, 2010
Even though Valentine's Day is on a Sunday this year, it didn't keep the McKinley High Pep Club from its annual tradition of making all the single people feel like losers. They didn't cancel Carnations and Roses Day – they just changed it to the Friday before Valentine's Day. Kurt and Tina and Mercedes tried to makes themselves feel better about being single by sending each other half a dozen carnations each during home room, but they still felt like losers for not receiving any roses – while Rachel Berry, who is usually an enthusiastic participant in any pity party, gloated around for most of the day with the single red rose she'd received from Finn.
Since the carnations didn't do much to cheer him, Kurt decided to host a Single Ladies' party at his house today. No coupled person will be allowed to enjoy his signature chocolate mousse, chocolate soufflé, chocolate fondue and chocolate tortes. It will be a Valentine's party to make lovebirds wish they could be singletons again.
Tina and Mercedes are hanging the last of the decorations in Kurt's room when Brittany rings the doorbell. She's surprised to see Kurt answer it. "I thought this was a Single Ladies' party. What are you doing here?" she says, stepping through the threshold and handing Kurt her letter jacket.
"Since I'm the host, I get to be an honorary lady." Kurt hangs her coat. "My singlehood, unfortunately, is not honorary."
"No. Being single is very honorable." Brittany follows Kurt down the hall to the basement stairs. "It means you can make out with more people, without it being cheating."
"If only I had people to make out with," Kurt mumbles.
"Oh, if I were a boy, I would totally make out with you," Brittany says. "I'm sure all the guys want to. They're just too afraid to say it."
"I'm not sure how reassuring that is, Brittany, but thanks."
Once Brittany's there, the party is officially started. Kurt invited Quinn, too, but she seemed to take the invitation as a personal affront. "I won't be single for long," she told him. So he's not waiting around for her.
They watch Boys on the Side and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and Mercedes wants to watch My Best Friend's Wedding next because "It's better to have a gay friend than a boyfriend" (receiving nods of approval from Tina and Brittany), but Kurt doesn't think he can stand a movie today where Julia Roberts doesn't get exactly what she wants, so instead he asks Tina and Brittany if they want to help him teach Mercedes the "Single Ladies" dance, since it's the Single Ladies' party, after all.
And so that's what they do, high on sugar and chocolate, and Burt stomps a couple times from the kitchen to get them to turn the music down because he's a total buzzkill. Kurt is amazed at how much more flexible his hips have become since he learned this dance, and he really does feel like he has the finest ass in the world when he slaps it. (Brittany confirms his discovery out loud.)
After years of awkward puberty and more awkward coming out, he's starting to feel proud of this body and the things it can do. He wishes there was someone other than himself and these three lovely girls who could see just how wonderful it is – someone male, and gorgeous, with an ass almost as fine as his and a nature that's kind and loving.
But at least Kurt Hummel understands that he's amazing and irreplaceable, even if no other boy does.
To discover that you love yourself, he decides, may be the best Valentine's gift of all.
The revelation won’t last long. Pretty much as soon as the ladies leave, he’ll be back to wishing that Finn will finally turn gay or bisexual or at least straight-but-gay-for-Kurt, and that it’ll happen today so he won’t have to finish off his Valentine’s Day alone.
But the thought will come back to him from time to time, and when it’s most important, he’ll remember that loving himself is as important as being loved.
Valentine's Day, 2011
This is not how Valentine's Day was supposed to be this year. By now, Kurt was supposed to have his first real handholding (flirty hand-grabs by your best friend with no boundaries do not count), his first real kiss (locker room assaults also do not count), his first serenade (which went to an Elvish assistant manager at the Gap instead), and his first boyfriend.
Because he was convinced that Blaine felt the same way. Absolutely convinced. (Actually, he's still mostly convinced. But he's also convinced that Blaine is never going to do anything about it.)
Instead, this is how the Valentine's season has gone: Kurt was humiliated in front of the Warblers, who must have figured out by now that he has a massive crush on Blaine. And then Blaine friend-spaced him, apparently thinking that "I really, really care about you" and "I don't want to screw this up" are adequate consolation prizes for "Happy Valentine's Day, sweetheart" and "Kiss me now."
So, instead, Kurt spends Valentine's Day evening singing silly love songs (including "Silly Love Songs") at Breadstix. Kurt lobbied for a setlist of breakup songs to go with the theme of the Lonely Hearts Club Dinner, but the Council rejected "I Will Survive," "Candles," "Stronger," "Crazy," "I Know It's Over," "Boys Don't Cry" and even "F**k You" as "too depressing."
At least Blaine looks at him while he's singing "I love you" and Kurt can pretend that it means something, even though it probably only means "I love you in that awful, evil let's-play-that-we're-just-friends way that will ultimately make neither of us happy."
And then Blaine further drags out Kurt's painful hopes by walking him to his car and giving him a lingering hug when they get there – so lingering that Kurt has to repeat This means nothing, this means nothing, he probably hugs girls like this over and over in his head so that he doesn't get distracted by the solidity of Blaine in his arms, the sound of breath so close to his ears, the soothing and exhilarating brush of hands on his back.
He tries to read nothing into the embarrassed way that Blaine smiles and looks away from Kurt's eyes when he pulls away, mumbling, "Happy Valentine's Day."
"I guess," Kurt sighs, stepping into the Navigator and giving Blaine a little wave as he shuts the door.
Kurt tries not to read anything into the fact that Blaine stands at the front of the parking space, watching Kurt leave, until he's out of sight.
When Kurt gets home, he reaches into the back of the freezer for the pint of Chubby Hubby he keeps hidden from his dad behind bags of frozen brussels sprouts, goes up to his room, and gets his sketchbook out. He tears out the silly heart with "Blaine + Kurt" in the center, the page upon page of the name "Blaine" written in different script and print styles, the half-dozen designs for Valentine's cards he might have given Blaine if they had been dating by now.
He stares at them as he devours the Chubby Hubby, wondering who's stupider – him or Blaine. He really can't decide.
What he can decide, once the Chubby Hubby is gone, is what to do with all this. He takes the sheets of paper downstairs and walks over to his father's desk, switches on the shredder, and starts feeding them through one at a time.
Last year's Valentine's Day, when he had absolutely no hopes of dating anyone, was so much happier than this. He loves and respects himself and needs to start acting like it. He needs to start saying goodbye.
Valentine's Day, 2012
After the party, Kurt drives Blaine home. He takes the long route, not ready to say goodbye to him yet after these weeks apart. Well, it’s not quite that – he’s seen him as recently as Sunday. But not seeing him at school as part of the minutiae of daily life has been harder than Kurt imagined it would be.
That’s what Kurt wants to say. He wants to say how much he missed Blaine while he was gone and how seeing Finn and Rachel make out became more misery-inducing than ever and that he even started to resent Brittany and Santana. Instead, what comes out of his mouth is, “Dave Karofsky thinks he’s in love with me.”
Kurt’s eyes are on the road, but in his peripheral vision, he can see Blaine’s face turn toward him. That fedora is still on his head; Kurt feels vaguely like he’s in a 1940s noir movie. “What happened?” Blaine says quietly.
“He came up to me at Breadstix today in a gorilla costume and – wait, rewind. For the past week I’ve been getting Valentine’s cards signed from my ‘Secret Admirer’ and – “
“You didn’t mention this to me.” Blaine doesn’t sound angry, but Blaine rarely sounds angry even when he is, so –
“I thought it was you being cute. I was – I thought I was playing along with your game and you were going to do this big reveal on Valentine’s Day and I was going to say ‘C'est toi? Tu es mon admirateur secret?’ and you were going to say ‘J'ai essayé de te le cacher pendant si longtemps, mais je n'en peux plus’ and I was going to say ‘Je t'ai toujours aimé, si seulement tu savais à quel point' and then we were going to kiss and – “
“Wow. I wish it had been me. A card every day of the week? I never pictured him as a romantic.” Blaine turns his face back toward the road, then groans suddenly. “Oh my god. Dave Karofsky does romance better than I do.” He bangs the back of his skull against the headrest.
Kurt takes his right hand off of the steering wheel and rests it on Blaine’s leg. “Don’t say that, Blaine. Please, never say that. I mean, it seemed very romantic when I thought the cards were all from you. But when I found out it was Dave, it was just – sad.”
“So, what happened?”
“I came to Breadstix early because I got a note from my ‘Secret Admirer’ saying he’d be there before the party and I was so excited to see you that I didn’t even do the pompadour like I’d planned because it would take too long and I got there and I didn’t see you anywhere and there he was in the gorilla costume and I thought it was you – “
“Wait. Why did you think it was me?”
“Because one of the cards last week was delivered by a gorilla.”
“Not really, but when I thought it was from you, it was.”
They’re getting closer and closer to Blaine’s house, and Kurt really doesn’t want their entire conversation there to be taken up with Dave Karofsky, so he pulls off into a parking lot next to the river.
“What are you doing?” says Blaine before Kurt has a chance to cut off the engine.
“There’s only a few minutes more until I have to drop you off at your house and I wanted to spend this time telling you how glad I am to see you and that you’re not wearing the eye patch anymore and I missed you more than is reasonable and – and instead we’re talking about Dave in a gorilla suit. I just – I want to finish this conversation and also get to the other stuff before I have to say goodbye to you.”
“You don’t have to say goodbye.” Blaine is looking straight at Kurt with both eyes and wow, Kurt hadn’t forgotten what it was like, but he’d also gotten used to the other way of looking. He’s glad he can see both of them again. “I mean, I have a present for you and – my parents are on a date until later, so it’s not like my mom will be dragging you away from me for tailoring advice like she usually does.”
“Okay,” Kurt says, and he turns back out to the road, and tries to finish the Dave story as quickly as he can, without brushing off how hard it was to look in the eye of someone who loves you and tell him that you don’t love him back. Kurt’s had that done to him before, but he never imagined he’d have to do it to someone else.
Kurt reassures Blaine umpteen times that he's pretty sure that Dave's not stalking him, or that maybe he was this past week but he doesn't think he's going to continue. In any case, Kurt doesn't think he's going to be able to enjoy butterscotch for a while.
“I’m sorry, Kurt. I should have been there. My idea of romantic was making a grand entrance at the end of the show. It’s stupid.”
“No, it wasn’t stupid.” Kurt rubs Blaine’s leg again. “It was a grand gesture. I love you and your grand gestures.” He bites his tongue and does not say Except when they’re geared toward assistant managers at the Gap. It’s Valentine’s Day, after all. “Also, you let me sing the best parts of the song.”
“True. I guess I am pretty romantic, aren’t I?”
“You are.” Kurt lets out a dreamy sigh and Blaine covers Kurt’s hand with his. They stay linked like that the rest of the way to Blaine’s house, until Kurt has to make a sharp turn into the driveway.
“Ready for your surprise?” Blaine says as they step out of the car.
“I don’t know. Does it involve rimming?”
“Sex is not your surprise, Kurt. But we have time for it after your surprise if you still want it then.”
“I don’t know Blaine, it’s a school night,” Kurt teases as they walk through the front door.
Blaine takes Kurt by the hand and pulls him to the dining room without letting Kurt take off his coat or shoes or put down his satchel.
On the table, there are ten origami figurines – but not the cranes or tulips or boats he learned to make in middle school art class. They’re nothing, really, like Kurt’s ever seen.
“I made one for you for every day I was out of school. It was a little hard at first without the depth perception, but I got used to it. This one is a ballet dancer, because you told me you used to take ballet when you were little, and this one is an azalea, because you said last year that that was how you knew that spring is really here. And this one is a bee so I can fly it around your head and make a buzzing noise – bzzzzzz, bzzzzzzzz – and say ‘Bee mine.’”
Kurt takes Blaine’s wrist gently in his hand and snatches the bee carefully from his fingertips, placing it on the table. It has a head and a thorax and two wings and six legs and it looks like an honest-to-goodness bee. It must have taken hours to make. And it’s for him.
“I will,” Kurt says. “I will be yours.” He pulls Blaine in and kisses him with all the longing built up from those days apart and those secret admirer cards he thought were from him. He kisses him until he can’t anymore because his forehead keeps bumping into the brim of Blaine’s hat. He starts to tip it back but Blaine’s hands dart up, holding it tight to his head.
“Nope. This is staying on my head until you’re done looking at your present. Otherwise I’ll get carried away with kissing you. I’ve missed you like you wouldn’t believe.”
“No,” Kurt sighs. “I think I would believe.”
So Blaine shows Kurt the rest of the figurines. There’s a hummingbird, because “they’re so beautiful, but if you’re not looking, you miss them completely.” There’s a cat “to remind you of me, because we both climb on furniture.” There’s Totoro from My Neighbor Totoro because Kurt introduced Blaine to that movie, and they both cry at the ending every time. There’s a frog prince, “because you make me feel like one.” And finally, needing no explanation at all, are a blackbird, a canary and a heart with an arrow through it.
Kurt’s so happy he starts to cry. “How long did this take you, Blaine?”
“I don’t know. I still got my schoolwork done. It just – it helped the missing you not hurt as bad.”
Kurt grabs Blaine’s hands and kisses each of his knuckles. “Your hands did this for me.”
“Yes, they did,” Blaine says, his voice almost breaking.
“I wish I could take you home with me.”
“Well, you do, sometimes.”
“You know what I mean,” Kurt says. “But I think Finn and Rachel are idiots for getting married now, so I guess I have to be patient.”
Blaine pecks him on the cheek.
“I have something for you, too.” Kurt reaches into his back pocket. But it feels stupid now.”
“I’m sure it’s wonderful, Kurt.”
“Well, there’s two parts. Remember last year before Valentine’s Day, when you found me in the hall and told me you had a surprise?”
“And it was a serenade for – ugh, yes. I remember.”
“I was drawing something and you asked me what it was and I told you it was sketches for a new clothing line or something. It wasn’t.” Kurt pulls a folded-up piece of paper from his back pocket and holds it in front of Blaine. “So on Valentine’s Day, I decided that you and I had pretty much no chance in hell of ever working out and I went through my sketchbook to tear out every page in which I obsessed over you, and I started putting them through my dad’s shredder. But I got to the one I’d been drawing that day, and I couldn’t. Because I kept remembering the way you hugged me in the Breadstix parking lot after the Lonely Hearts concert and I – I couldn’t believe nothing would ever happen. So I folded it up and put it in one of my desk drawers.”
He hands the piece of paper to Blaine, who unfolds it with trembling hands. It’s the heart with Blaine + Kurt inside.
Blaine looks up at Kurt, his brown eyes soft like the freshly turned earth. “Thank you for waiting for me,” he says quietly.
“You’re totally worth it.” Kurt wants to knock off Blaine’s hat now and start kissing him madly, but there’s another gift yet. He reaches into his satchel and pulls out a large kraft envelope, handing it to Blaine. “And this one is really stupid, because I made it for this boy in my ballet class when I was seven, but I chickened out before I could give it to him. I found it when dad and I were getting ready to move out of our old house last year. You deserve it so much more than that second-grade loser.”
Blaine pulls out a large paper heart with the words “You are the ballon to my grand battement," scrawled across it in glitter pen.
He looks up “Oh my god. You must have been so cute. Tiny Kurt! This was made with tiny Kurt hands! And already with the French, even back then!”
“Well, they’re ballet terms. I don’t think they really count.”
“Of course they count! Little tiny Kurt wrote this!”
“You’re very excited about little tiny Kurt.”
“Of course I am. Because maybe one day, we’ll have kids who look just like you did when you were little, and they’ll make little construction paper hearts and – “
Kurt can’t stop himself. He knocks the hat off of Blaine’s head and starts kissing him like crazy, and Blaine barely manages to slip the hearts onto the table before Kurt presses their chests together.
Blaine pulls his lips slightly away. “I didn’t mean to say that. I know you’re freaked out about Rachel and Finn.”
“Yeah. But I like the idea of one day,” Kurt says, and resumes kissing Blaine.
Later, when Kurt is driving back home with his box of origami figurines in the passenger seat next to him, he thinks how different this Valentine’s Day has been from any he can remember. It’s wonderful to be loved. It’s not so wonderful to break someone’s heart. But Kurt’s heart has mended from every breaking. The boy whose heart he broke will someday find someone, too.