this is a seriously good dessert to eat when the weather is hot

Kadam Week Prompt Five: Our First Noel

Kurt and Adam either meet or reunite while participating in a volunteer event.

In this fic, Kurt decides to spend Christmas Eve working in a LGBT youth shelter. Burt comes along to help (no Blaine all up here in this bitch) and Kurt meets a kind young man whom found his NYADA audition “Breathtaking.” ^_^

There are a few more switcheroos in this fic: Burt doesn’t tell Kurt about his cancer until the day after Christmas. Kurt’s going to be seriously upset (and not happy that Burt didn’t tell him immediately; I think I would be too) but I’ll say that Burt wanted Kurt to not have to worry about it over Christmas (and the kid DOES worry.)

Plus, on a more selfish note, I have to keep this fic fairly short if I want to finish the week’s challenge, and if Adam and Kurt wanted to talk shop about cancer, this story would be considerably longer.  

Please enjoy!

-O-

Kurt never believed he would credit Sue Sylvester with having a good idea (let alone a philanthropic one) but her enlisting the Glee club to volunteer at a homeless shelter last Christmas Eve had been a surprisingly sweet initiative on her part. That had lasted all of one day, but he thought it would be a good annual tradition to adopt.

When he thought he would be spending Christmas alone this year, Kurt had signed himself up to work at a halfway center known as the “Rainbow Connection,” a center which provided aid to displaced LGBT youth in New York City.

But Burt had shown up at the door with a tree, very nearly inducing a heart attack of Kurt’s own. After the tree had been put up and they’d waved Rachel off for her cruise, Burt had volunteered to come along with Kurt to the shelter. The man had signed up considerably late, but none of the staff minded.

“We really need all the help we can get,” said the curly-haired man whom shook both their hands at the check-in desk. He was wearing a Santa cap. “We won’t be turning away anyone today, that or any other day.”

Kurt looked around the center’s reception room. It was a weathered place, bearing scratch marks on walls with chipped and faded paint. Old pipes gurgled from the ceiling, and the carpet was frayed and water-stained. He might’ve been imagining things, but judging by its slightly lopsided halls the place seemed to be actively sinking into the earth. Burt looked around too, brow furrowing.

“If I have anythin’ to say in Washington about any gay kid shelter—and damned well I do—I’m not gonna stand for Ohio’s shelters getting this beat up.”

Kurt thought the building was in desperate need of a facelift, but the staff had tried cheering the place with an explosion of color: There were LGBT flags and safe space stickers everywhere you looked, a burst of silver and blue paper chains surrounding a battered menorah on a crooked table, and a kenora surrounded by red and gold tinsel not far away. Christmas lights were wrapped around the battered old pipes, and down the halls were intermittent little Charlie Brown trees the staff had likely picked from the remains of Christmas tree lots. They’d been loved into life with handmade decorations, photos of staff members and shelter comers. Kurt’s heart ached and his throat tightened as he looked at them, looked at the resource posters for food, foster care, financial aid, and STD prevention and care.

“I’m glad this place exists.”

“Me too,” said Burt heavily. “But I’m real sorry that it has to.”

“We got a whole lot of people coming in tonight and tomorrow,” said the shelter attendant, and they turned to face him again. “The weather tonight is supposed to set a new record for the coldest Christmas NYC’s seen in eleven years.”

Kurt felt a hot wave of guilt. His dad had flown so far to see him, had saved him from being one of the displaced teens coming in for a respite from the cold, to the only Christmas they were likely to get. He stepped closer to his father, and Burt wrapped an arm around his shoulders, hugging him.

“Now to find jobs for you both. Can either of you cook?”

Burt muttered a “Not really,” while Kurt nodded. “A little.”

“’A little’ meaning my kid cooks better than anyone I ever met. Uh, don’t tell Carol I said that.”

The man sighed, looking profoundly relieved. “Right then. Kurt, if I could just have you take a right down the hall to the kitchen, they’ll put you to work. Mr. Hummel, if you’ll just come with me, please…”

Kurt reluctantly waved goodbye to his father, headed into the kitchen area, where he was pleased to find lots of people already at work, bustling over trays of turkey, foil casserole dishes of potatoes and cranberry sauce.

The man in charge eagerly put Kurt to work on the Christmas cookies. As Kurt picked up an icing bag, for one sliver in time, his mother’s hands were wrapped around his much smaller ones, guiding his decorating for Santa’s cookies.

He blinked, and got to work carefully decorating snowflake shaped cookies, making silvery curly-ques atop light-blue icing, dotting them with glittery sugar and chocolate chips. He knew he was being silly; people would be more interested in eating the cookies then looking at them, but he didn’t want the dessert to seem perfunctory. He’d yelled at his bemused father for trying to stick a plate of oreos in front of the fireplace when that just wasn’t the same.

He made rainbow cookies with gender symbols atop them, cookies in the shape of an ace with black, blue and purple frosting, glittery blue, pink and white striped stars to represent the transgender flag. Perhaps he went a bit too far by making little gingerbread men in frosting tuxedos holding hands with each other, but he could not resist. Soon he made little gingerbread women with icing skirts doing the same, followed by large heart cookies. Feeling sheepish, Kurt nonetheless got to work writing on the hearts, wondering if they seemed too much like Valentine’s-conversation candy.

“These are all lovely.”

Starting, Kurt whirled around, nearly knocking the young man beside him in the ribs with his elbow—there really were too many cooks in the kitchen. “Oh! Oh, I’m sorry. And thank you.”

The young man smiled. He was a tall bean pole, with dark blond hair tousled beneath his beanie, with light-blue eyes and a small cleft in his chin. Kurt felt the bottom briefly drop out of his stomach. “It’s quite alright. I’m sorry; there isn’t too much space here.” He had a British accent.

He took a careful step back, still smiling down at Kurt’s cookies, expression soft. “Oh, these are wonderful. You make pastries as well as you sing, Kurt. People will be fighting over them.”

Kurt’s face was suddenly as flaming as his cookies and he looked away, smiling broadly.

“I hope not. And thank you again, ah—“ His eyes widened in surprise as he realized that while the stranger knew his name, Kurt didn’t know his. And certainly he wouldn’t forget a face like this one.

It was the stranger’s turn to flush. “I’m sorry; I’m a fan, not a stalker.” He frowned. “Stalkers aren’t allowed to say that, are they? Ah, well. Adam Crawford.” He extended a floury hand, and Kurt took it with a bemused smile. “I forget you’re not a NYADA student just yet.”

“How did you know I got in?” Kurt asked wonderingly.

“I heard your performance at the Winter showcase.” Adam smiled again, eyes warm and bright. “If Madame T didn’t let you in after that, I can only conclude she’d need to be shut in an asylum.”

Kurt laughed aloud at that, surprising himself. “Well, thank you. I think Rachel was the showstopper though.”

“Rachel Berry?” asked Adam, brow creasing. “She was fine. But the way you sang…” Adam shook his head in stunned amazement. “It was positively…breathtaking.”

Kurt colored a little more, knowing he ought to get back to the cookies and yet rooted to the spot. “Thank you.”

“Fair warning,” said Adam, moving to check the bubbling pot he’d been working over. He scooped out a ladleful and after blowing on it for some time took a tentative sip. “The moment you finished singing the Apples gathered outside to discuss potential tactics on how to recruit you. I likely would’ve discovered where you lived and shown up on your doorstep with my homemade apple pie. You wouldn’t have stood a chance.”

“Wait, what? The Apples? And recruit me for what, being gay?”

“Of course you can’t recruit people into being gay. You can only become gay by sitting too close to the telly,” Adam said seriously. Then his face fell and both he and Kurt burst out giggling. Adam wiped his eyes.

“The Adam’s Apples are the show choir group I founded.” Kurt’s eyes lit up at once. “I thought you were remarkable, but to be honest, I didn’t have much hope, considering how good you are and we’re…” Adam shrugged helplessly. “Well, show choir. Even amongst misfit artists, show choir members are treated anathema at NYADA.”

“That’s okay. I was part of my high school glee club, and even nerds threw rocks at us from cars. But pie and show choir both sound excellent to me.”

Adam opened the oven and Kurt got a hot waft of decadent cinnamon and melting brown sugar, along with the gentle smell of apples. “Come to the dark side, Kurt. We have pie.”

“As long as it’s not koolaid.”

“And try a bit of this,” Adam offered, fetching another saucer and offering Kurt a small scoop of soup. Throwing Adam a dubious look, Kurt blew on it and tried, eyes closing.

“Oh dear God, that chicken and dumpling is divine.” He laughed and shook his head. “Did you follow me here so that you could win me over to your show choir with food?”

It was stupid, but he couldn’t help but wonder if Adam maybe cooked this way for someone else.

“Is it working?” Adam asked innocently, chuckling when Kurt nudged him playfully. “No, dear. I come here often. I only just so happened to recognize you.”  

“Are you…are you a volunteer as well?”

“Yes,” said Adam, stirring the pot and adding pepper. “School and the Apples keep me busy and I can’t come as often as I like, but I like to volunteer as a day camp counselor here. The facility works with the state to find lgbt-friendly foster homes for minors, but lots of them like to come here and participate in therapy or art classes.”

“Are you…” He ought not to ask, not to ask— “Are you here with your family tonight?”

Adam smiled and shook his head. “No, they’re back across the pond in Wessex, but no one minded a bit when I came out, not even my gran. I’m afraid I’m saving my money in the kipper for a longer vacation opportunity in the summer, so I won’t be with them this year.” He exhaled, and looked at the window, beckoning Kurt over with a finger.

“Still….”

The sight knocked the heart out of him; there was already an enormous line of people outside the shelter. Attendants were trying to shepherd people inside, but the line wrapped around the block. People were huddling together, all the while the wind was whistling and the world was being pillowed with snow. Kurt blinked again and prayed Adam didn’t notice him dab at his eye.

“Here I’m reminded it could be worse,” the taller boy said quietly, going back to his cutting board to slice potatoes. Kurt turned back to the cookies, tracing words on the desserts as quickly as he could. “I feel guilty.”

“Why?”

“I…my dad struggled with my coming out, it was so different than everything he ever was, and yet he took me exactly as I am, unconditionally.” Kurt palmed his eye. “I was so afraid when I told him that I’d…well, my friend Mercedes offered to let me stay at her place, if…”

Adam looked over at him, expression serious. “You shouldn’t have had to worry about that at all, Kurt.” Adam pronounced his name Kuht, and Kurt liked how it sounded. “No one deserves to be thrown out of their home for something they simply cannot help. While I’m very happy your dad is supportive, I wish that support were simply expected, rather than being an instance of sheer luck.”

Kurt smiled sadly. “My dad said something along the same lines.”

Suddenly he got an idea, and seized a package of paper cups and ripped off the plastic. Kurt grabbed a tray from a shelf beneath him, and after setting the cups upon it started filling them all from an enormous dispenser with cocoa. Adam watched curiously as Kurt feverishly sprinkled cinnamon in them all, grabbed his coat off the hook and started buttoning. “What are you…” He looked outside and his eyes widened with understanding. “Oh…”  

“I know I probably can’t give one to everyone in time,” Kurt said breathlessly, bustling for the emergency exit. “But I have to at least try.”

Stunned, Adam watched as Kurt headed out, the wind buffeting him as he did so. A second later Adam turned the burner and oven off, and started stacking a tray of his own, curiously sampling a hot cocoa with cinnamon. He closed his eyes. God, but that was delicious.  

He hurried out afterwards, the chill knifing into his bones, making him seize up. He’d been in such a rush to follow Kurt that he’d forgotten his coat. Kurt was already making a beeline for the line, his face flushed pink. Adam watched it for a stupidly long moment, then jolted and followed suit.  

By now the line was moving and more people had made their way inside, but no one rejected the cocoa, some sipping cautiously while others simply moved their faces over the steam, wrapping icy fingers around the hot cups.

Soon after the boys rushed in again, and again, and on the sixth time Kurt thought at least he was getting some exercise this Christmas. He and Adam kept bumping into each other as they served chocolate, and Kurt couldn’t help but huddle closer to the other boy—it really was bitterly cold out.

By the time they’d served cocoa to the last person heading inside they staggered back into the kitchen, exhausted, very flushed, very cold and cracking up. “Dear God, your hands,” Adam exclaimed, taking Kurt’s flushed hands in his own.

“Hello, pot. I’m kettle. You’re pink,” pointed out Kurt, and started giggling when Adam swatted at him affectionately.

Soon the food was moved to the counter, where the line was already waiting. He looked over at Adam. “Do you have any plans for Christmas?”

“Oh, I’ll…enjoy some movies and soup in bed. Catch up on my reading.”

Kurt said nothing to that for a few moments. Hours ago he’d expected a quiet day himself, had been able to excuse his not-returning to Lima on lack of funds (and a desire to avoid his ex.) But after Burt had appeared, the idea now seemed inexplicably lonely.

“Well, you’re sitting with us at the volunteer’s table tonight.” Kurt said crisply, voice leaving no room for argument. “Those are my terms if you want me to join the apples. Take it or leave it.”

Adam looked bemused, then amazed, and then laughed gleefully.

“You drive a hard bargain, sir. I’ll take it.”

-O-

Later that night, Adam would pass a cookie to Kurt that he’d made himself. It simply read, You’re Adorable.

And Kurt would stutter and look away, and Burt would lift a brow and throw an inscrutable look at his son, whom was glugging down cocoa to avoid answering. Burt’s uncertain expression would thaw (albeit begrudgingly) as Adam described his work as a counselor in the youth programs at the youth center, and his ragtag showchoir at NYADA, and how Kurt sounded like a silver bell at the winter showcase. (If Kurt hadn’t been red before, he was scarlet then.)

And Burt would invite Adam to take the Rockettes ticket he’d bought for Rachel before he knew she was leaving town. And Adam would stammer that no, he really couldn’t and Burt Hummel said calmly that he damn well could, and would because the tickets were non-refundable and ‘my kid just lit up like the star of Bethlehem, so will you not ruin my kid’s Christmas?’ And Adam was speechless, though he was already understanding that a wise man does not argue with Burt Hummel.

And Kurt would squeeze his hand underneath the table, and offer Adam the opportunity to come back home with them afterwards and eat too much food while they watched basketball (while his father did, anyway) and that sounded perfect, so of course Adam said yes. And of course Kurt would smile, eyes shining.

That would be their first Christmas together. It wasn’t their last.