"I'll be fine, Artie." Kurt reassures, flipping through the cue cards for their presentation methodically. The lined paper is covered in his neat scrawl. Artie frowns and opens his mouth, but without even looking up from his task, Kurt cuts across him, "I don't make excuses, Artie. It's just a headache."
"A really bad headache," Artie points out, watching as Kurt flips open their Spanish textbook and makes a note about pronunciation next to a word he has to say, "You threw up less than an hour ago."
Kurt sighs, closing the book and shuffling the cards together against the table so they're lined up. "I took something for it. I'll be fine." He snaps an elastic band over the cards and sets them on the table, adjacent to the textbook.
Artie wants to protest some more, wants to tell Kurt that Mr. Schuester will understand; Kurt never gets sick, never gets headaches, never complains about anything that actually bothers him–except possibly Rachel's clothing. There's no use protesting: Kurt is determined to do their presentation.
The bell rings, signalling the end of their free period, and Kurt stacks his books neatly atop one another and then pushes them into his side bag smoothly, "Are you ready?" Artie pushes the wheels so his chair drifts backwards from the library table, and Kurt falls into step beside him as they leave.
Schue smiles brightly at them as they enter the room, asking, in Spanish, if they're "Ready for your presentation?" Kurt replies back in perfect Spanish, which makes Schuester beam.
Ten minutes into class, Karofsky is jumbling words together at the front of the room; Artie looks to Kurt and frowns, because Kurt is rubbing his temples with both hands. Normally, this wouldn't be alarming–rubbing his temples is a clear sign of annoyance from Kurt–but Kurt isn't watching Karofsky. His eyes are closed, screwed shut in pain, and his chin is tucked down against his chest.
Artie wishes he could kick him, get his attention under the desks, but he can't, so he hisses, "Kurt, what's up?"
Kurt opens his eyes. The strain in them is clearly visible, the skin around them tight and wrinkled, and Artie knows that he's not okay, but Schue calls their names and Kurt stands swiftly, making his way up the two rows to the front of the class. Artie sighs loudly, following behind him.
Kurt starts easily, and because of Glee club they're incredibly sharp when it comes to following cues from the other, so Arties slips into his portion the moment Kurt stops talking.
He's droning on and on, listening to the smooth sound of the sharpie Kurt is using on the white board; he's used to the sound, they've practiced this twice in the choir room–Kurt will write examples as Artie talks about the concepts behind them.
The sound shouldn't stop until Artie is almost finished, but he's still got about thirty seconds of talking when the sharpie clatters to the floor behind him; Artie pauses, glancing over his shoulder at Kurt, whose head is bent again, down and almost pressed against the white board.
"Kurt?" he whispers, rolling back and a little to the side so he's half-facing Kurt, half-facing the front of the room, "You okay?"
The room is deathly silent as Kurt's head shakes in the negative, and then he turns, dropping to his knees and throwing up in Schuester's garbage bin. Artie wheels forward, but he can't help at all, not from his chair, and then Schue is there, whispering in Kurt's ear in a rushed tone.
Kurt makes a strange squeak in his throat and falls, nearly landing face-first in the bin of his own vomit, but Schue catches him, turning him and laying him down on his side. He fishes for a pulse on Kurt's neck and then tries to wake him, quietly calling his name. The class is deathly silent.
And then Kurt has a seizure. Kurt's arm flares out and knocks Schue away from him and into Artie's legs; Artie's chair moves backward without him doing anything, and Schue moves forward again to hold Kurt down. It's horrible.
Artie looks up at the class, dreading the possibility that one of the bullies thinks it's funny, but most of the students look either stunned or terrified. One girl is crying. Karofsky has his phone out, spitting details out into the mouthpiece, and Artie realizes with a pang of guilt that Karofsky, of all people, is the one who knows to calls 9-1-1. His own phone sits forgotten in his jeans pocket.
Once Kurt stops seizing, Schue makes the rest of the class leave. Karofsky tells him quietly that he's called for an ambulance and one is on the way and Schue nods, obviously fighting tears; Artie doesn't move, even when Schue tells him he should probably leave, that he doesn't have to see his friend like this.
So it's just the three of them for a few moments, Schue sitting with one hand against Kurt's neck to monitor his pulse and the other holding Kurt's own, limp hand.
"Is he going to be okay?" Artie can't help how pathetic he sounds. He's been in a bad car accident, but he barely remembers that and he doesn't know how to deal with this, with Kurt not being okay. And he's met Kurt's dad, he knows just how much they love each other, how Burt will just not be okay if Kurt isn't.
Schue smiles thinly at him, "Of course he'll be okay, Artie." His gaze drops to Kurt's pale, clammy face, and his smile fades away as he repeats the words. It sucks, knowing that he's trying to convince himself of the same thing, especially as his hand twitches and then moves on Kurt's neck: he lost the pulse.
The paramedics crash through the door, bringing a wave of sound in from the hallway and pushing Schue away from Kurt; Artie wonders if Mercedes knows it's Kurt, knows it's her best friend laying on the floor of a classroom, but then he thinks, If she knew, she'd be here. It takes a moment for him to realize every single member of Glee would be forcing their way in if they knew it was Kurt.
And then the paramedics are using the portable defibrillators on Kurt's chest, and his body is jerking violently with the force of it. Schue stands, shakily pulling himself up on a student's desk, and then moves around to clasp a hand on Artie's shoulder.
The paramedics work for a few more minutes, shocking Kurt's body several times. They're trying to restart his heart now, Artie panics, Kurt doesn't have a heartbeat.
When they stop, Artie sighs, thinking he's okay, but then they're lifting him slowly onto a stretcher and pulling a smooth white sheet over his face. No.
They lift the stretcher between them and leave; Artie can still make out the smooth line of Kurt's nose under the blanket. He follows, hitting Mr. Schue's hand away and rolling over the toes of several students.
He shakes his head, and Mr. Schue kneels down in front of him. "He was okay. He was fine, Mr. Schue. He said it was just a headache."
His teacher doesn't say anything, just leans forward and wraps his arms around him, hugging him in the middle of a crowd of stunned students.
"Who died?" somebody whispers, and then Artie is crying, sobbing against his teacher's chest, trying to push him away, wanting desperately to go after his friend. He knows there's nothing he can do, but he doesn't want to: he wants to go on expecting to hear Kurt's sarcastic voice, his fantastic, high, beautiful, unique voice; wants to think Kurt is going to be there, dancing with Mercedes or trading barbs with Puck, smiling at Finn or fixing his own clothes.
Mr. Schue lets him go, and Artie realizes he's crying too, they're both just sobbing in the middle of the hallway. He moves away, out of Artie's sight, and then his chair is moving, slowly drifting towards the choir room.
The entire glee club is there, looking shaken. Puck stands immediately, "What the hell happened? Did somebody actually die?"
Rachel sniffles, waiting expectantly for an answer. Nobody knows it's Kurt.
"Guys, I think everyone should sit down." Tina moves forward, immediately putting herself on Artie's lap and wrapping her arms around his neck.
"Where's Kurt?" Finn asks, and it's so innocent, such a normal, expected question. Artie lets out a noise and presses his face to Tina's neck, and it seems to be all the answer he needs.
Finn breathes out, a loud "No," spilling as he stands and kicks a chair over; Puck swears; Mercedes lets out a wail and he hears somebody–Santana, he thinks–move to comfort her; Rachel dissolves into uncontrolled sobs.
"What–what happened?" Quinn asks, quiet and sounding like somebody has torn her throat out.
"I'm not sure," Schue says, because it's true. Artie doesn't understand either.
The only sound for a long time is crying. Rachel stops for a while, sniffling into Finn's sweater, but Mercedes doesn't; her crying is long, unbroken sobbing, and Artie thinks it's probably hurting her physically to keep crying by now.
Figgins comes in about an hour later, calmly telling them that Kurt had an aneurysm and it ruptured, which is what caused his death. It's what killed him.
Nobody knows what to say, but Figgins tells them they should all go home, go, be with their families, and Finn gets up immediately. They watch him leave, but nobody else goes.
This is family. This is who they need to get through this, and Rachel says as much. Puck takes Finn's place, wrapping his arms around Rachel and stroking her hair like he cares about her. They stay for hours, long after their parents show up and congregate in an empty classroom, long after school lets out.
They find out later that Finn went to Kurt's house, went to see Burt, but that he was too late: Burt had already put a bullet through his head.
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