Pearls and BowtiesCharacters/Pairings:
cisgirl!Blaine, Emma, and mentions of cisgirl!Kurt and cisgirl!Cooper; mention of cisgirl!Blaine/cisgirl!KurtRating:
name changes in order to fit some characters' new sexes and genders, very minor spoiler for 4x13 (clothing related), but really through 4x06.Word Count:
Blaine has complicated feelings about pearls and bonds with Ms. Pillsbury over Kate Spade.
Pearls and Bowties
Blaine gets her first set of pearls when she turns sixteen and it comes in an ocean-blue box, the name unfamiliar to her.
"Do you know who that is?" her father asks and Blaine shakes her head. She's familiar with Tiffany and Cartier and Harry Winston, but she's never heard of Mikimoto before.
"Mikimoto is known for pearls. Everyone woman should have a set of pearls," he continues and she's so tempted to hand it back to him, saying it's lovely, but she's not going to be his vision of what a proper lady should be. But she was raised to open the box and admire the necklace with a smile before responding with, "It's beautiful, thank you so much!"
The necklace rests nicely on her collarbone when she manages to work the clasp (which is beautiful enough to show off, she thinks). Her father nods and smiles, happy with his choice and she's pretty sure the necklace slowly tightens into a chokehold.
She hates feeling like this, hates that she can't appreciate such a wonderful, generous gift, that it has to hold unsaid meanings and weigh her down.
"Stop being such a snot," Colby says on the phone. "It's just Daddy's way of saying he loves you."
"But you should've heard the way he presented it – like it would magically change me into becoming the kind of proper daughter he wanted."
"You're reading too much into things. Listen, I gotta run, I have an audition for some credit commercial – I'm totally going to nail it. Kisses!"
It was the first and last time Blaine tries talking to Colby about anything serious until she visits Blaine at McKinley a year later, but even now it's still hard, years of being ignored and talked over too fresh in her mind, and experiencing it all over again with Kate, before Elle C., makes it worse.
Still, despite her reservations when she first received the gift, she wears it often. Maybe it's a little sad that she does it just so maybe her father will catch her wearing it, which always brings a smile to his face, every time.
At Crawford, girls with eagle eyes would zoom in on it and ask if it were real, which always made her uncomfortable. At least at McKinley, no one notices or cares, which is somewhat of a relief, even though she still hides it well in a secret zippered compartment in her satchel when she changes for gym.
Kate always liked the necklace, staring at it with envy sometimes.
"Pearls are timeless," Kate says once as she sketches out another suit she's considering on wearing to her junior year prom. "And you have Mikimoto," she continues, her sharp eyes zeroing in on the little 'M' charm that hangs off the necklace. Blaine lowers her gaze with a blush, adjusting the necklace so the clasp is resting on the back of her neck, the 'M' hidden in her hair. "I'd accept it without another thought."
Blaine doesn't really try to broach the subject of her family that much afterwards. But she does understand where Kate's coming from – Blaine's admired Audrey Hepburn in her massive pearl necklace in Breakfast at Tiffany's when she was growing up and thought they made women look a classy that's not so prevalent anymore. Maybe it's a romantic view that's dated, but at seven watching her mother get ready for a black tie function, putting on her jewelry before heading out the door, always made her think that's the kind of grown up she wants to be: classy and sophisticated.
While she's far from that naïve seven-year-old girl, there's still this part of her that's a little giddy when she puts on her pearls and stands in the mirror before leaving the house for school, feeling just a little like her mother. It's really silly at this point, especially since she knows she'll never have that sort of effortless elegance like her mother, that in the end she's still playing dress up.
So, she's almost resigned to the pearls' constant presence around her neck, how it reminds her of good and bad things.
(Sometimes she thinks she's five times older than her age and she's trying to make up for it with bright colored tights and headbands with bows on them.)
However, while her mother has always been a source of inspiration and something to aspire to, these days she's actually been inspired once or twice by Ms. Pillsbury, who's always dressed nicely and colorfully and while Blaine wouldn't personally wear a number of her clothes, she can imagine herself in ten or fifteen years doing so.
But when Blaine comes in to Ms. Pillsbury's office to talk about missing a few days of school to visit colleges, she notices the triple strand pearl necklace around Ms. Pillsbury's neck, how there's a black jeweled bow on it, standing out proudly against the rose pink of her blouse and –
"Ms. Pillsbury, that necklace is beautiful," Blaine gushes, surprising Ms. Pillsbury, who was focusing rather intently at her laptop.
Ms. Pillsbury looks up with a deer in the headlights expression, like Blaine caught her doing something she shouldn't be doing. "Oh, Blaine! Hello!" She brings a hand to her necklace. "Yes, thank you!" She looks down at her computer screen and then squeals, clapping enthusiastically. "Yes! I got it!"
Blaine cocks her head to the side for a moment before asking, "Are…you on eBay right now?"
Ms. Pillsbury smiles sheepishly. "I found a Kate Spade skirt that was previously unavailable. I've been bidding against my arch-nemesis who always wants the clothes I want, but I won!"
Blaine bites her bottom lip for a moment as she walks inside the office and takes a seat across Ms. Pillsbury. "If you don't mind…may I inquire which skirt?"
"Oh, yes!" Ms. Pillsbury turns the laptop towards Blaine, showing a picture of a skirt with different colored bowties.
"I love it."
"Isn't it darling?" Ms. Pillsbury brings a hand up to her necklace again. "This is also from Kate Spade – I decided to spoil myself," she continues with a happy smile.
"Is it really? Is it a new piece because I haven't seen it on their website," Blaine asks, not really surprised because it's so adorable.
"You haven't?" Ms. Pillsbury gives Blaine a mockingly stern expression. "Whatever you came to me about will just have to wait a few minutes because you will absolutely love the new pieces." She turns the laptop back around to type in the website before showing Blaine the 'new arrivals' page.
Blaine sees the theme immediately. "They're all bows."
"I know! I'm going to have to stop myself from buying everything," Ms. Pillsbury sympathizes.
"There's a dress with bowties on them," Blaine laments as she scrolls down, the price way outside her range.
"If any of them go on sale at more reasonable prices on eBay, I'll let you know."
Blaine looks up at Ms. Pillsbury and grins. "I've never tried the whole bidding-on-eBay thing."
Ms. Pillsbury looks past Blaine to make sure no one is in the hallway and can overhear before she says, "I can teach you. During your free period, that is. When you don't have homework. Or studying." She nods, confident she's covered her bases and if there's one decent thing about this school, it's Ms. Pillsbury, she's sure of it.
"I appreciate that," Blaine says, scrolling down and finding Ms. Pillsbury's necklace, which is in fact quite expensive. There's no way she can justify that kind of purchase and she can just imagine what her father would think, wondering why she's wearing 'cheap' jewelry when she has better.
While it may be cheaper in comparison, it has a kind of personal twist of character that speaks to Blaine, that makes up for any supposed lesser quality; it shows off who she is, that she can appreciate the classic and the fun and it can all be her.
It weirdly gives her hope, a potential freedom that she can maybe take if she reached out a bit further, that one day she won't have to compromise or mute who she is.
She brings a hand to her own necklace, rolling a pearl between her fingers with a smile.