Uninvited Criticisms, Part 1

Nov 27, 2011 20:53

Or, Why Kurt Hummel Is a Terrifying Human Being on Black Friday, and Blaine Anderson is Insane For Loving Him Anyway.

For everyone who wanted a sequel to Unsolicited Advice, and for strangeangelsxx, who wanted to know what Blaine would think of Kurt’s more divalicious side.

If you’ve never read UA before, no need to go find it, here’s what you need to know: Sometimes, when Kurt Hummel goes out around town, other people aren’t on their best behavior. And sometimes, those people need a vicious tongue-lashing (but not that kind, because ew) to remind them how well-mannered, classy people behave in public. It’s a thankless job, but somebody has to do it.

A/N: I did actually have this ready to go for Black Friday. Sadly, my relatives don’t believe in the healing power of wireless. Enjoy it anyway!


Friday, November 25th, 11:27am:

Everyone in the food court was staring at him. He was sure that his face was an extremely unappealing shade of red, and that the vein in his temple was bulging unattractively.

And yet, he couldn’t bring himself to stop yelling.

“And for crying out loud, will you pull up your pants?” he demanded shrilly, glaring up at the seven foot tall meathead in front of him. “Nobody in this very big room wants to see your underwear. We’re not even slightly interested. At all. Get a belt, wear tighter pants, put on some weight-do whatever you have to do to cover yourself up, because right now, you’re about three millimeters away from full on, HBO-levels of indecent exposure-which, given the number of minors in this room, would be a well-deserved misdemeanor charge!”

Before his opponent could respond, a voice broke through the murmuring crowd.


Kurt whipped around. And paled dramatically.
Blaine was standing there, surrounded by Mercedes, Tina, Santana, and mall security, looking at Kurt with a bewildered expression, like he’d never seen him properly before.

Kurt swallowed.

“I don’t suppose you’d be willing to pretend you didn’t see that?” he asked nervously.

72 hours B.F. (Before Friday)…

Kurt was fixing his hair at his locker when Mercedes and Tina came bounding up to him.

And immediately started coughing. “Boy, stop destroying the ozone,” Mercedes demanded, waving her hand in front of her face to clear away the mist. “Tina’s mom said Friday was all right, so you can pick us both up at my house.”

“If she asks, we got eight hours of sleep, ate a healthy breakfast, and started planning ahead for the science fair,” Tina interjected, taking Kurt’s hairspray away and putting it back on the shelf, nose wrinkled in distaste.

Kurt ignored her. “Excellent,” he said breathlessly, taking one last look at his reflection in the mirror before closing his locker. “Project Black Friday is a go, then.”

He linked an arm with each girl as they started toward the choir room. “There’s just one small, tiny, miniscule flaw in the plan,” he admitted with a sigh. “Finn let it slip to Blaine that we were planning on being at the mall when it opens on Friday, and he wanted to know if he could come.”

Mercedes stopped in her tracks. “You didn’t,” she accused sharply.

“I did!” Kurt wailed. “It was horrible; he was looking at me with that kicked puppy expression he gets sometimes and talking about how his family never bothered to go and how the Warblers were never interested, and it was like I was outside my own body, watching myself agree when he asked me if it would be all right if he joined us.”

Tina looked back and forth between them, clearly confused. “Wait,” she protested, “I don’t get it. Why shouldn’t Blaine come? He’s your boyfriend, and he’s crazy about you-he’d probably buy you coffee and hold your spot in line and help carry your bags, all without you even having to ask.”

Kurt and Mercedes looked at each other, eyebrows raised.

“Tina,” Kurt said slowly. “Do you remember the time I said something mean about Rachel’s shoes?”

Tina frowned. “Which time?” she wanted to know. “You do that at least three times a week. You did that this morning.”

“And I stand by that critique,” Kurt sniffed. “I don’t even know where she bought plaid penny loafers; those monstrosities were hideous. But I digress-I meant the time I asked her why on earth she had purple sparkly ribbons lacing up her tan shoes, and Blaine told me to be nice and told Rachel that he appreciated her creativity.”

“So?” Tina asked.

Kurt sighed, exasperated. “So, that was me being nice, and Blaine was worried about me hurting her feelings,” he explained, whining just a little. “How do you think he’s going to react when he sees me on Black Friday? I’m a terrible, vicious, single-minded monster on Black Friday! Blaine’s going to take one look at me and freak out, if he doesn’t break up with me on the spot.”

Tina shook her head. “You’re exaggerating,” she said calmly. “I’ve been shopping with you before, and you’re only really mean when people deserve it. And Blaine’s not going to break up with you-it’ll be four in the morning, he won’t even be awake enough to notice.”

Mercedes looked pityingly at her. “We’ve both been shopping with him before,” she reminded Tina. “You think Blaine’s not going to notice when he makes a salesclerk cry, or threatens a group of middle schoolers with a mannequin arm? Or gets arrested by mall security again? He’s still not allowed back in Nordstrom.”

“Which I’m not at all bitter about, by the way,” Kurt interjected dryly.

“Whatever, you still buy from them online,” Mercedes waved dismissively. “Point is, just because Blaine’s head over heels for the Fashion Gestapo here, doesn’t mean he’s not gonna notice when heads start to roll.”

Tina was beginning to look uneasy. “That…could be a problem,” she admitted.

Mercedes nodded fervently. “Is there any way you could uninvite him?” she suggested.

Tina and Kurt both looked at her as if she had suddenly grown an extra head. “And say what?” Kurt wanted to know. “Sorry to raise your hopes and then dash them like an awful, terrible boyfriend, but I’m afraid if you come you might find out that I’m secretly an awful, terrible person?”

Tina shook her head. “It doesn’t work like that,” she explained to Mercedes. “He can’t uninvite Blaine without a really good reason, and even then he’d still have to make it up to him later. We’ll just have to think of something else.”

Kurt’s expression shifted. “Well,” he said slowly, “I did come up with a potential solution to run by you two.”

Mercedes frowned at his tone. “It doesn’t involve a muumuu and a bowl of fruit, does it?” she asked warily. “Because you know I love you, but there are some things you can only talk me into once before I want to hurt you.”

Kurt shook his head, taking his arm out of her grasp and wrapping it around her instead. “Nothing that drastic,” he promised. “I just thought that maybe you could…distract Blaine, a little, while we’re shopping. Not the entire time, just whenever it looks like I’m about to lose it.”

Now Tina was frowning as well. “Distract him how?” she wanted to know. “Because watching you scream at people is even more awful and compelling than Toddlers & Tiaras. I’m not sure the Thanksgiving Day Parade could distract Blaine from that.”

Kurt sighed. “I don’t know,” he replied, exasperated. “Pretend to get hurt. Pretend you see someone in a Dalton blazer. Pretend Santa’s giving away free hair gel and bow ties, I don’t care-just think of something interesting enough to hold his attention for two minutes. Please?”

Mercedes nodded. “I hate to say it, but it might be your only chance,” she told Kurt, reaching up and patting his hand. “I’m in.”

Kurt’s eyes sparkled. “Fantastic,” he breathed.

They both turned to Tina, who sighed again. “You really can’t behave yourself for one day?” she asked, already sounding resigned.

Mercedes and Kurt exchanged A Look. “It’s Black Friday,” Kurt said gently.

“Of course not.”

Friday, November 25th, 3:28am:

Blaine was starting to suspect that asking to tag along with Kurt and their mutual friends when they went holiday shopping might have been a questionable decision.

On the outset, it seemed like the perfect plan: more time with Kurt (who would be in his element-according to the Official Kurt Hummel Holiday Ranking Chart, only Fashion Week came close to inspiring the same amount of joy in his boyfriend’s sweet heart), the opportunity to spend part of Thanksgiving at the Hummel-Hudson house (on the couch, but that didn’t stop the occasional midnight visit), help with his holiday shopping from, hands down, the best shopper he had ever met, etc.

And he did need help. Blaine might be more of a romantic than he had originally thought, but it had still taken him until he was thirteen to figure out that not everyone appreciated Big Mouth Billy Bass the way that he did.

However, his enthusiasm was dampened a bit when he was shaken awake in the middle of the night by a very insistent hand.

“Blaine,” Kurt whispered, his breath warm and coffee-scented on Blaine’s cheek. “Blaine, wake up; it’s morning.”

Blaine blinked sleepily, groaning a bit. “No, it’s not,” he croaked, looking blearily at Kurt. Whom he could barely see-the Hummel-Hudson’s living room was almost completely dark, but for the small amount of light shining in through the kitchen.

Kurt smiled, stroking Blaine’s hair. “It’s 3:30 in the morning,” he pointed out. “Note the use of the word ‘morning’.”

He kissed Blaine lightly before handing him a mug of coffee. “The mall opens in an hour, so we have to be ready to go pick up the girls in about twenty minutes,” he told Blaine. “Do you need me to pick out an outfit for you?”

Blaine, tangled in his blanket on the couch, struggled to sit up. ”I can pick out my own clothes,” he mumbled, taking a sip of coffee. Then another, bigger one-Kurt had added extra sugar, and it was kind of exactly what he needed.

Kurt looked at him pityingly. “Sweetheart, I know that you can pick out your own clothes,” he allowed, in what Blaine secretly thought of as his Magnanimously Faux-Patient voice. “70% of the time, anyway. But Black Friday isn’t just any old day, it’s an event. Look.”

He stood up and posed elegantly, and Blaine raised a tired eyebrow. Everything Kurt was wearing was undoubtedly stylish, but it was certainly different than his usual look.

“Note the lack of buttons, straps, or decorative zippers,” Kurt explained, brushing an imaginary dust speck off of his sleeve. “Everything is streamlined and functional, for maximum dressing room convenience, and distinctly-but-tastefully colorful, so that it’ll be easy for you to find me in a crowd.”

“I can always find you in a crowd,” Blaine pointed out, slightly petulantly.

Kurt smiled brilliantly. “I am rather eye-catching, it’s true,” he agreed.

Blaine smiled.

“Finally, the athletic sneakers,” Kurt continued. “Which wouldn’t have been my first choice, I’ll admit, but they’re comfortable enough to stave away blisters for the several hours I’ll be wearing them, and they’ve got enough height to them that I should have a reasonable idea if any pants I try on would need tailoring, in order to fall properly with my boots.”

Blaine thought doubtfully about the button down shirt, vest, and dress shoes in his overnight bag. “Maybe you’d better pick out my clothes,” he conceded.

Kurt beamed. “I knew you’d see it my way,” he trilled happily, picking a set of clothes up from where they were hidden under the coffee table and handing them to Blaine. “Get dressed,” he ordered, stroking Blaine’s cheek and standing up, “I’m making you pancakes.”

Blaine’s forehead wrinkled in confusion as he watched Kurt leave the room. “You hate pancakes,” he pointed out, feeling like he missed something.

Kurt’s laugh echoed from the kitchen. “They’re only for you. Like I’d eat carbs right before trying on clothes,” he retorted, far more cheerful than anyone had any right to be before dawn. “I have enough energy bars in my satchel to last until dinnertime, at least. Plus, they weigh a ton, so between them and the studs sewn into the fabric, my bag should double as a weapon at close range, if necessary.”

Choosing to ignore that statement-he was still too tired to differentiate between Kurt being earnest and Kurt being sarcastic-Blaine looked at the clothes in his lap. On top of the grey slacks and stretchy black sweater was a pair of socks.

A pair of socks with a note taped to them. Wear these! You’ll get blisters and be unhappy if you don’t! Kurt’s handwriting admonished.

Blaine drained the rest of his coffee in a single gulp. It was going to be a much longer day than he had anticipated.

Friday, November 25th, 4:18am:

Kurt was watching the nearly empty road as he drove, he really was. But he couldn’t stop himself from sneaking the occasional glance at Blaine, who looked particularly adorable slouching in the passenger seat, half asleep and wearing Kurt’s slightly-too-long for him clothing. Or at least, Kurt thought he was only half asleep-he hadn’t actually participated in the conversation since Mercedes and Tina had climbed into the backseat, but every once in a while Kurt would see him take another gulp from the travel mug of hot chocolate Kurt had pressed into his hands after watching him nearly face-plant into his pancakes.

It was really a good thing that Blaine looked so good in Kurt’s clothes, or Kurt would have had to kill him when the sleeve of his favorite cashmere came within millimeters of the syrup for the third time.

In the backseat, Mercedes was explaining the shopping schedule to Tina, with visual aids from Kurt’s satchel. “This column is the Best Case Scenario-all the stores we’d go to and things we’d get if everything worked out perfectly,” he heard her say. “Obviously, that’s not going to happen, so we have everything there split into Needs and Wants, based on their importance. If we can get 70% of the items on the Needs list, and at least half of those are on some sort of sale, then Kurt considers the day a success.”

A quick glance in the rearview mirror showed Kurt that Tina was looking a bit overwhelmed. Or skeptical; it was hard to distinguish between the two in the dark. “We made this year’s schedule a few weeks ago, when the print ads came out,” he explained, “but it’s flexible, if there’s somewhere you want to go that’s not on there.”

“Flexible? Kurt, it’s laminated,” Tina pointed out.

Kurt faked surprise. “Oh, is it? I guess you don’t get a say, then,” he lamented, laughing as Tina hit the back of his seat with her tiny, ineffectual fist.

“Seriously though,” he added, “you don’t get a say for the first hour-the first hour is critical. And actually, we’re going to stick you and Blaine in the line as soon as we get into each store, and we’ll go get everything.”

“What if we get to the counter before you finish?” she wanted to know.

Kurt rolled his eyes. “It’ll never happen,” he promised, pulling into the already overcrowded mall parking lot. “Everyone does the same thing-you won’t get up to the registers for at least nine minutes. Trust me, we’ve got it down to a science.”

“Need to get a video game,” Blaine mumbled from the passenger seat, surprising them all with his slightly off-topic contribution. “Wes’s little brother.”

“Blaine, you’re…well, I’d say ‘awake’ but I’m not sure,” Kurt breathed, smiling. “Tell me what game it is when you can complete your sentences; I’ll get it for you online on Monday-you and Tina are first timers, you’re not ready to buy electronics yet.”

“People lose appendages doing that,” Mercedes confirmed. “Ten bucks says the first fist fight happens in Best Buy.”

“Fist fight or physical confrontation?” Kurt wanted to know. “Because if hair-pulling or scratching counts, my money’s on Juicy Couture.”

Mercedes hummed, thinking about it. “I’ll take that bet, but only if any fight you’re involved in doesn’t count.”

Kurt’s eyes widened, and in the rearview mirror, he could see Tina bite her bottom lip nervously. “I mean, not that-“ Mercedes started backpedalling, before Kurt shook his head violently-Blaine would probably think that the offhanded comment was a joke if everyone let it go, but not if Mercedes guiltily started trying to explain it away.

Blaine reached over and clumsily patted Kurt’s arm, eyes still closed. “No hair-pulling,” he reminded Kurt, voice thick with sleep. “Damages the roots.”

Kurt smiled in relief. “That’s right, Blaine,” he agreed. “Finish your drink, all right? All the caffeine pills I ground up and mixed in there must have sunk to the bottom, if you’re still this tired.”

Friday, November 25th, 6:41am:

Kurt was extremely pleased with himself. They’d been in the mall for just over two hours, and already he’d bought more than half of the items on his list (most from the Needs category, even), gotten Blaine into three Michael Kors sweaters (and did he ever wear them well-he was going to have to reconsider the concert tickets and homemade scrapbook he was planning on giving Blaine for Christmas), and helped steer Mercedes and Tina away from some truly eye watering fashion decisions. And Blaine, who was barely awake enough to question Kurt’s ninja parking skills at the start of the morning-Artie had promised him his handicap parking permit in exchange for a favor last Halloween, and Kurt was all too happy to cash in on that-had still turned out to be a decent shopping companion.

And by ‘decent shopping companion’, Kurt meant ‘too tired to do much besides stand in line where Kurt or Mercedes put him, hold lots of bags, and smile sleepily at Kurt for the first hour of the day’.

Now that Blaine had woken up properly (Tina had lost the coin toss, and had crowd-weaved her way to the food court for the first Starbucks run of the day), he was starting to get into the spirit of the trip, even offering Kurt a consolatory hug when he and Mercedes both turned out to be wrong-the first catfight of the day had reportedly gone down in Victoria Secret, involving carnage, tears, and one girl walking out with a handful of her opponent’s hair. He honestly hadn’t cared about winning, but Blaine’s growing enthusiasm for his favorite holiday, in combination with the excellent progress they were making around the mall, made him beyond happy. So happy, in fact, that he had made it approximately 132 minutes into the shopping trip without yelling at a single person.

He should have known that it would be too good to last.

Freshly caffeinated, the four of them were halfway between the food court and Victoria Secret (just to see if the rumors of five overturned displays were true) when Mercedes spotted the jewelry kiosk.

“Five minutes,” she promised. “I have twelve little cousins, and they all want bling for Christmas.” Kurt, feeling generous, agreed to the stop. He stayed with Mercedes, scanning the earrings with a detached interest, while Tina and Blaine went to look at the Christmas-themed stand several feet away.

There were a few pairs of earrings that Kurt could make work for some of the Glee girls, and a pair or two that Carole might have liked, but none of them really spoke to him. Leaving Mercedes with her handful of jewelry, Kurt wandered around the oversized cart to examine the offerings on the other side.

Or at least he would have, if the entire other side hadn’t been blocked by a twenty-something woman and her enormous stroller, parked in exactly the most inconvenient manner possible.

Eyeing the three children in the stroller warily-two of them may have been asleep, but toddlers still made him nervous, with their sticky hands and inability to articulate their feelings-Kurt cleared his throat softly. “Excuse me,” he said politely, “would you mind moving your stroller back a little?”

The woman looked over at him, dark circles under her eyes. “Would you mind waiting your turn?” she retorted, with far more disdain than Kurt’s request should have warranted, before turning back to the bracelets.

Kurt bit back the instant flare-up of his temper. “I’m not asking you to move,” he seethed quietly, trying to keep his tone as neutral as possible. “I’d just like you to move your stroller back a little so that I can take a look at the necklaces.”

Behind them, the one awake baby threw her bottle on the ground and started to cry. The woman didn’t react. “If I move the stroller out of arm’s reach, someone could take it,” she snapped back. “Can you wait 30 seconds for your precious girly necklaces, Princess?”

Princess? Oh, it was on. Kurt opened his mouth to let her have it.

“Hey look at this!” he heard Blaine exclaim at the next kiosk, holding out an elf hat to Tina.

Oh, right. He didn’t want his boyfriend to think he was a homicidal, insane person.

Slowly, gritting his teeth-but just a little, because teeth were expensive to replace if damaged-he turned back to the woman. “By all means, take your time,” he offered dryly. “We have nothing better to do but acquiesce to your schedule.”

She pointedly ignored him. Kurt took a deep, slow breath, willing his blood pressure back down. He’d think of happy things instead: Blaine. Coffee. 50% off sales. Blaine bringing him coffee at a 50% sale. His inevitable takeover and coronation as reigning monarch of Europe.

Or the world. He wasn’t picky.

As if he knew what Kurt was thinking, Blaine looked over him and smiled, elf hat on his head. Kurt smiled back.

And that might have been the end of it, if Kurt hadn’t turned back to the kiosk in time to see the woman slipping a pair of bracelets from the display into her pocket. Kurt couldn’t help himself. “Seriously?” he hissed. “You’re really going to do that?”

The woman glared back at him. “None of your business,” she replied scathingly.

That was it. Turning back around, he waved his hands in the air until he caught Tina’s attention, then pointed back and forth between himself and Blaine, miming strangling someone and shaking his head frantically.

Tina looked at him, uncomprehending, for a few seconds. Kurt waved harder.

When it finally came together in her head, she rolled her eyes at him, sighed, and took a step back. “Oh, ouch!” she yelled suddenly, prompting Blaine to drop his hat and rush to her aid.

Kurt turned back to the woman, who was miraculously still standing there examining jewelry. “Okay, listen,” he whispered harshly, “I have about 90 seconds before my boyfriend notices I’m doing this, so don’t interrupt. First of all, this is a jewelry counter, not a preschool. There are no turns, everyone is free to look at whatever they want, as long as they’re not getting in anyone’s way. You and your insanely oversized stroller? Are getting in everyone’s way.
“I thought I said don’t interrupt,” he said coldly, when the woman opened her mouth to protest, “I’m on a schedule; try to keep up. As I was saying-having a stroller full of children doesn’t magically entitle you to anything: not to all the space you want, not to petty larceny, not to being rude to people. When someone politely asks you to make room, the appropriate response is to politely make room, not to malign the asker. Particularly not in front of your kids, by the way. I won’t even go into how concerning it is that you were concerned about the stroller getting taken, rather than your kids, because I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and pretend you meant both.”

He glanced down at the kids; the one on the left was starting to stir. Mindful of disturbing them, he lowered his voice. “Insulting strangers and shoplifting are a horrible example to set for them,” he continued, “and while you’re clearly not watching them, since your daughter’s bottle is over by the music store and she’s been crying about it for the past three minutes, they’re watching you. Look, I’m not saying that being a parent is easy-my dad was a single parent, I know it’s not. But part of raising children is showing them how to behave in public and treat other people, especially when they’re young and impressionable.”

He glanced back at Blaine, who was watching Tina with wide, concerned eyes. “I don’t know how you managed to twist your ankle in these boots,” he was commenting lightly, “they’re so…sturdy looking.”

Something inside of him softened. Blaine would make an incredible dad, someday.

He turned back to the woman. “I’m not going to report you if you don’t put the bracelets back,” he sighed, looking at the kids in the stroller again. “But think about what you’d want them to do in your shoes, ten years from now.”

And with that, he flounced over to the other side of the kiosk, where Mercedes was waiting for him.

Friday, November 25th, 8:03am:

It was another hour-with only two near misses-before Kurt’s cover as a reasonable human being was nearly blown. And this time, it wasn’t even his fault.

He, Blaine, and Tina had just dropped Mercedes off at the sporting goods store-Mr. Jones was an avid golfer-and had been heading for the east wing (Blaine wanted to go to Nordstrom, and Kurt was wracking his brain, trying to think of an excuse to stay his mandated 10 feet away from the entrance) when a sharp set of claws dug into his back.

“Ladies and hag,” Santana purred, appearing out of nowhere behind them-a skill she had likely traded her absent soul for-with Brittany and Becky in tow. Muscling her way in between Blaine and Kurt, she wrapped an arm around each of their shoulders. Kurt, well-practiced in the ways of Santana, reached up automatically and stilled her wrist before the shopping bags she was carrying (one of which was, in fact, a Victoria Secret bag with several stray red hairs clinging to the rim) could hit him in the chest.

Blaine was less lucky.

“I thought I’d see you and your sad minions here today,” she addressed Kurt, ignoring Blaine as he hissed in pain, maneuvering his way out of her grip and prodding at the newly-formed scratch on his collarbone.

Kurt glared at her, reaching out to rub Blaine’s arm sympathetically. “You’re up late,” he commented. “Don’t demons generally sleep during the day?”

Santana smiled appreciatively. “That’s cute, that you think I sleep,” she commented. “And why would I miss such a golden opportunity to maim ‘other people’ and score some free swag?”

Santana air-quoted with abandon, and it was only a quick yank on the back of his shirt from Tina that saved Blaine from taking another bag to the chin.

Behind Santana, Brittany smiled hazily. “The manager at the candy store gave me this,” she shared, holding up an enormous gift basket stuffed with Ghirardelli. “It’s like my birthday, only with more violence.”

“Britt, that still has the price tag on it,” Tina pointed out. “That wasn’t free; it was like, $100.”

Brittany flicked the tag in question before shrugging. “He gave it to me,” she insisted nonchalantly. “All we had to do was go away.”

Becky nodded in agreement. “He said he gets queasy at the sight of blood,” she confirmed.

Santana’s eyes were sparkling at Kurt, like a particularly evil Disney villain. “Did you kill anyone yet?” she demanded, voice both gleeful and malicious. “I have money on you being responsible for the first Ohio fatality of the day.”

Kurt could see Blaine frowning, confused, out of the corner of his eye. He refused to look over as he shook his head. “That’s a terrible thing to joke about,” he informed Santana piously. “I may be passionate about it, but in the end, it’s just shopping-nothing worth getting excessively worked up over.”

Santana looked at him with an expression of sheer disbelief. “You’re kidding, right?” she asked skeptically. “You’re like the Dexter Morgan of shopping-there’s probably a basement somewhere that’s full of the rotting corpses of your retail enemies.”

Before he could answer-and honestly, what could he say to that?-comprehension dawned in Santana’s eyes. “Britt-Britt, give Elvis Jr. some chocolate,” she ordered. “His owner hasn’t let him off the leash for a few days; he probably hasn’t eaten anything but kibble.”

Brittany and Becky descended on Blaine and Tina with the gift basket while Santana yanked Kurt aside. “This is priceless,” she mocked happily. “You’re not going for the jugular because you’re afraid of upsetting your boytoy, aren’t you? I knew you couldn’t be that nice and goody-two-shoed on your own.”

Kurt glanced back at Blaine, who was watching helplessly as Brittany and Tina argued about whether human puppies would enjoy-or be poisoned by-the chocolate. Unnoticed by him, Becky was sizing him up for a collar from behind.

Reasonably sure that Blaine’s attention was off of him for the moment, he turned back to Santana. “I’m going to die,” he moaned. “Insults and criticisms keep building up in my head, and I have to keep toning them down or wait until he’s not listening, and it’s completely destroying my shopping rhythm. I nearly bought a cotton pashmina, I’m so off my game and stuffed with unreleased ire.”

Santana smiled cunningly. “That’s…incredibly pathetic,” she agreed, making Kurt groan into his hands in misery. “Listen, ditch him for a few minutes and come with me. I need a few things from the bookstore, and I need someone to distract the manager.”

Kurt frowned. “I’m not sure what to be more surprised by,” he commented, “you asking me for help when you have Cheerios at your disposal, or the fact that you need something from a bookstore.”

Santana’s smirk didn’t flicker. “Coach Sylvester needs them for her semi-annual book burning rally,” she explained offhandedly, examining her nails. “And the manager is a college-educated ‘mo, so we’re not doing much for his perverted little heart.”

Kurt took another glance at Blaine-now happily munching chocolate-before narrowing his eyes. “You want me to flirt with a bookstore manager so that you can shoplift?” he hissed. “What is wrong with you?”

“Oh, don’t act like you’re so shocked,” Santana scoffed. “And distract him however you want-ask him how to help you find a How To Get Over Yourself and Stop Being Such an Ice Queen Gay Virgin manual, I don’t care. Just do it, and I won’t blow your cover and tell Blaine that you usually rack up more carnage than Puck does in Call of Duty between Thanksgiving and Christmas. And I’ll let you yell at anyone you want.”

Kurt didn’t hesitate. “Blaine,” he asked sweetly, snapping his boyfriend out of his sleep-deprived, Brittany-induced trance of bewilderment. “Do you think you’ll be okay at Nordstrom without me? Santana’s calling in a favor, but it shouldn’t take more than half an hour or so.”

Blaine looked at him sadly. “But you love their women’s boots,” he pointed out, “are you sure you want to miss that? We can wait for you, or Tina and I could come with you, and then we could all go together.”

Kurt thought of Blaine, sweet Blaine, watching him aiding and abetting Santana’s life of crime before chewing out scores of well-deserving shoppers.

And panicked slightly. “We’re going to the Gap!” he blurted out, making Blaine start with surprise, before turning beet red. “Why don’t you and Tina just go on your own, and you call me when you’re done?”

Kurt could feel Santana barely restraining her laughter behind him as Blaine quickly backed up, grabbing Tina. “Uh, yeah,” he stammered sheepishly. “Let’s do that, good idea. Macy’s next?”

Kurt forced a smile. “Macy’s next,” he agreed. “Call Mercedes and tell her, all right? Have fun!”

He watched Blaine practically drag a bemused Tina down the corridor. “I’m cheating on my boyfriend with my volatile temper,” he remarked dryly. “I think I’m going to relationship hell for this one.”

Santana threaded her arm through his. “Does that make me your Dirty Rotten Mistress?” she wanted to know. “Because I’ll do it, but my services don’t come cheap.”

“Your services are Bargain-Basement clearance sale cheap,” Kurt retorted without malice, “and I’m still not interested. Let’s go get this over with, shall we? Blaine won’t make it half an hour before his White Knight syndrome kicks in and he feels compelled to call and rescue me from you, so I only have so much time to be generally horrible.”

Friday, November 25th, 9:14am:

The bookstore manager turned out to be extremely unattractive, and Kurt had made Santana promise to only steal Republican political biographies and Southern Fried Cookbooks in exchange for his ongoing cooperation. He had to admit, though, that after wheedling the manager into special-ordering a year’s worth of Italian Vogue back issues, then verbally eviscerating a throng of middle schoolers for shrieking loudly, folding back pages, and nearly knocking down a little old couple three times without apologizing-Irving and Rose were very grateful for his intervention-he did feel a whole lot better.

So much so that, when he’d parted ways with Santana and met back up with the others, he was feeling benevolent enough to let Blaine pick out his own bowties, while he held their place in the dressing room line.

Really, at times he could be such a humanitarian, it was almost painful.

No matter how well he planned his Macy’s trips, Kurt couldn’t avoid the dreaded dressing room lines during the holiday season. Luckily, there were steps he could take to minimize the wait: a careful analysis of the store’s traffic patterns, reassessed every few months, indicated that the dressing rooms near the lingerie section were consistently the emptiest. His self-formulated algorithm of anticipated wait time (factoring in number of people waiting, number of items each person held, number of dressing rooms total, gender of each shopper, etc.) was second nature by now, and was critical criteria in making the wait-or-abandon decision.

And when he was inevitably stuck waiting, more or less patiently, for his turn, there was always Fruit Ninja.

Tina had abandoned them all to go “check out the bedding. For college”, and would have to be woken up at the end of their jaunt. There were a mere three people ahead of Kurt in line, giving Blaine and Mercedes about 9 ½ minutes to get back before a dressing room opened up for them (the rooms were big enough to share, under duress). He had a fantastic pair of jeans to try on, among other things, and he was the calmest he had felt all day. And perhaps, if Mercedes finished up first, he could ask her nicely to go wake up Tina, and he could check ‘Hooking up with a gorgeously attractive, handsy musician while surrounded by Choos’ off his bucket list.

Life was good.

Or it would have been, if the girl at the front of the line would quit arguing with the salesclerk and get with the program-her shrieking had broken his concentration for the third time, making him miss a falling watermelon on his screen. A watermelon.

Quitting out of the game, Kurt looked up at the scene in front of him. The yeller was roughly his age, though he didn’t recognize her from McKinley. She had a heap of clothing at her feet-Kurt nearly had a stroke before realizing it was all brands he didn’t care about-but was shaking what had to be the World’s Most Heinous dress in the face of the terrified looking salesclerk.

“…size I tried on was marked $19.99, and this one clearly says $24.99,” the girl was arguing. “I don’t want to pay an extra five dollars just because somebody mismarked the price on this one.”

The salesclerk grappled for the walkie talkie clipped to the back of her jeans. “If I could just-“ she started timidly, before being verbally steamrolled.

“It’s ridiculous,” the shopper was ranting again, “this keeps happening. Every store I’ve been in so far has had the same problem. I don’t understand why it’s so hard to mark things; it’s not rocket science.”

Kurt frowned. Privately, he agreed with the girl’s basic point-he, too, had been frustrated and discouraged before by the general trend of mismatched pricing at the mall. But it was no worse today than any other day, and she was presenting her argument a.) to the wrong person, b.) excessively rudely, and c.) while inconveniencing the other twelve people in line. And to top it all off, the poor employee-who couldn’t have been more than eighteen or nineteen-was shaking so badly that she kept missing the button on the walkie talkie that would have called security.

Looking around, Kurt could see that, while other people were watching the scene with annoyance and/or secondhand embarrassment, nobody else was planning on stepping in. It would have to be him. Kurt Hummel, Damsel-Rescuer Extraordinaire. He cleared his throat and stepped forward.

“Kurt!” Blaine called from the doorway.

Whirling around, Kurt quickly dropped his bitchface and plastered on a smile. “Hello,” he said brightly, looking at the assortment of bowties in Blaine’s hand. “Success?”

Blaine nodded. “I lost one,” he admitted, “some guy snatched it right out of my hands, can you believe it?”

Kurt made a noise of sympathy. “What did you do?” he wanted to know.

Blaine shrugged. “I let him take it,” he answered, unconcerned. “I figured he must need it for something really important, if he was that worried about it.”

Kurt had to fight not to raise an eyebrow-it was a lot harder than he thought. “You’re too good,” he said instead. “Come here.” Blaine happily melted into his hug.

Kurt sometimes forgot how well Mercedes knew him, but he was so glad that she did: Kurt barely had to look in her direction before she was looking at him skeptically. Now? she mouthed, picking up on his unnaturally tight features. He nodded almost imperceptibly before rolling his eyes at the scene to his left. She glanced at the girl-still hounding the salesclerk-before nodding back. I got this, she mouthed again.

The entire exchange took less than five seconds.

“Kurt,” she said brightly-unnaturally so, but Blaine was still looking sleep-deprived, so it probably didn’t matter. “Will you hold our stuff? I have to show Blaine something.”

“Now?” Blaine wondered, letting go of Kurt and turning around. “But it’s almost our turn.”

Mercedes sighed. “It’ll just take a second,” she pushed. “It’s literally right outside; we’ll be back in two minutes. Seriously-120 seconds, I promise.”

Kurt could have picked up on his cue without the extra emphasis Mercedes placed on the time-or the roguish wink she sent in his direction, but whatever. “It’s all right,” he allowed, giving Blaine a light shove in her direction. “I’ll watch our things, you go ahead.”

Blaine looked back and forth between him and Mercedes uneasily, but handed Kurt his bundle of bowties. “I’ll just be a minute,” he promised, looking earnestly at Kurt, as if trying to reassure him.

Kurt forced a smile. “No rush,” he called out, as Blaine followed Mercedes past the line of waiting customers.

He waited until they were out of sight (“But we’re in the lingerie section,” Blaine was saying, sounding a little scared) before rolling up his sleeve and stepping forward. “All right, this seems a little one sided,” he interrupted the customer mid-sentence, eyes trained on the second hand of his now-exposed watch. “And I have a very overprotective boyfriend returning in about 110 seconds, so let’s make this quick, shall we?”

Glancing up, he noticed that both girls had fallen silent, staring at him in shock. Good.

“Right,” he answered himself. He turned to the salesclerk. “What’s your name?”

She blinked, looking surprised, or perhaps confused. “Shelley,” she answered nervously.

Kurt rewarded her with a reassuring smile. “Okay. What exactly is your job title, Shelley?” he asked.

Shelley’s grip on the radio relaxed slightly. “I’m a dressing room associate,” she said, only a fraction of the former quaver still in her voice.

Kurt nodded. “Thank you,” he breathed. He turned to the girl with the dress and pointed back behind him. “This is Shelley,” he said without sarcasm, as if it were brand new information. “She’s a dressing room associate. She works here in the dressing room, where her job is, presumably, to put people into cubicles and take their unwanted items when they’re done. How am I doing so far?” he asked Shelley, who nodded encouragingly at him.

“Good,” he continued, turning back. “Note that nowhere in that description did I mention ‘marking clothing prices’, ‘changing clothing prices’, ‘being responsible in any way for clothing prices in the mall at large’, or ‘manipulating the cash register into reading your desired price’. That’s because none of those things are her job. Yelling at her won’t make them her job, and in fact, you yelling at her has kept her from contacting the people whose job it is to assist you with your complaints.”

The girl had gotten over her shock. “You don’t work here,” she spat, “and this isn’t any of your business.”

Kurt glared right back. “You made it my business when you kept Shelley from doing her job,” he retorted icily. “You’re in Macy’s on Black Friday. There are a finite number of dressing rooms, and you’re keeping an entire line of people from accessing them because you don’t want to spend an extra $5. Grow up and cut coupons, if you’re that concerned about it. There are also a limited number of employees, and you terrorizing them makes their day that much worse, and our day much longer. If you have a problem, go to Customer Services and ask for help like a human being, and get out of everyone’s hair.”

Picking up his things, he started for the door.

Before he could make it out, however, he turned around. “And that dress is hideous,” he sniffed. “Get something in pale blue, maybe a light green-trust me.” And with that, he swept out of the dressing room.

And realized that, in making his trademark fabulous exit, he’d inadvertently given up his and Blaine’s spot in line. Crap.

fanfiction, glee, writing, klaine, oh blainers, not on kurt hummel's bucket list, brittany s. pierce

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