Disclaimer: I don't own Glee or any of these characters… if I did, Karofsky wouldn't exist anymore, Jesse wouldn't have been such an asshole (albeit one I believe legitimately fell for Rachel), and there would be a LOT more Blaine.
A/n: So this is a tough story. It's pretty intense emotionally, and it's LONG. Longer than any other one-shot I've ever written, both by the number of words and the length of time it took me to write it. Fair warning - this is going to make a lot of people cry.
Kurt didn't like churches. Or funerals. Or anything dealing with death. He had barely slept for two days, doing his best to stay by Blaine's side through all of this. The older boy needed his support, and Kurt had done his best to be there through all of the funeral preparations, the unwanted visitors, and everything else that had to be done.
He'd disappeared from school a week earlier without any warning. Kurt had called and texted at least a hundred times before Blaine had responded, and now Kurt felt awful for bothering him. The response had been short and completely uninformative:
I'm fine. Family emergency, be back in a couple of days.
And that was all Kurt had heard in the course of five days. Two days earlier he'd gotten a phone call from Blaine in the middle of the night.
Kurt groaned as he heard his cell phone start to ring. He rolled over and picked up the phone from his bedside table, glancing at the screen before he answered. He definitely wasn't expecting any phone calls in the middle of the night. "Blaine? It's the middle of the night…"
"K-Kurt?" Kurt felt his heart break as he heard the tears in Blaine's voice. He suddenly didn't care what time it was.
"What's wrong? Are you okay?" Kurt sat up and got out of his bed quickly, rummaging around trying to find clothes because he could tell that Blaine needed someone without even knowing what was going on. He completely ignored Finn's groans about how it was too early for anyone to be up.
"God… Kurt. I… I need you. Y-you're the only one who can understand…"
"Okay… I'm coming. Where are you?" Kurt picked up his school bag and dumped out its contents, throwing some random clothes inside just in case. He didn't know what was going on, but a phone call in the middle of the night was never a good thing. And if it was that bad, Kurt wasn't sure he was going to be able to leave Blaine by himself any time soon.
"Can… can you just meet me at my house? I can't stay here. I don't know if I can do this…"
"I'm on my way, okay? Just hang on." Kurt slipped his feet into his shoes, turning to Finn's mumbling form. "Finn, tell my dad I'm going to Reynoldsburg. I don't know when I'll be back."
"What? Kurt, it's the middle of the night!"
"It's an emergency, Finn! I'll call in a few hours… just go back to sleep." Kurt rushed up the stairs and out of the basement, grabbing his keys as he made his way towards his SUV. "Blaine, are you still there?"
"Yeah… yeah, I'm here."
"Do you want me to stay on the phone? We can talk…"
"Y-yeah. Please. I just… I can't be alone right now. I just want to hear your voice."
"Blaine, what's going on? Are you okay?"
"She's dead, Kurt. Oh God… I can't believe she's dead…" Kurt switched on his Bluetooth headset as Blaine trailed off, turning on his car and starting the two hour drive to Blaine's house.
"Your mom?" Kurt asked, praying that he was wrong. Blaine only had his mother; the older boy's father had been out of his life for years, only sending a check each month to make sure that Blaine and his mother were taken care of and mailing checks to Dalton to cover tuition. There wasn't any other family.
"I don't know what I'm going to do, Kurt… I'm a teenager for fuck's sake! I'm not supposed to be alone!" Kurt heard what he thought was the sound of brakes screeching.
"Blaine, are you driving?"
"I have to go home. I have to get away from the hospital… I've been there all week, I can't stay there anymore."
"Okay, but Blaine… you need to calm down. Just focus on driving right now, don't think about it."
"Okay… okay. Just don't leave me alone…"
"I'm not going to. I'm going to be there as soon as I can."
The sun was slowly starting to come over the horizon as Kurt pulled into the driveway of Blaine's house.
"Hey, I'm here. Where are you?" Kurt asked, parking his car behind Blaine's in the driveway.
"Front porch. I… I couldn't make myself go inside." Kurt got out of the car quickly, dropping his Bluetooth headset back into the cupholder and grabbing his phone as he hurried to find Blaine. The older boy was curled up on a chair, wrapped in a blanket that Kurt recognized as being the one Blaine generally kept in the trunk of his car for emergencies. It was old and ratty, but it was warm. And given the fact that it was freezing outside, Kurt was thankful that Blaine had gotten the blanket out.
"Blaine?" Kurt walked up to the older boy, kneeling down next to the chair and gently running a hand through Blaine's curls. He could see tears glistening in Blaine's eyes behind his glasses, making the boy's vacant stare even more heartbreaking than it would have been otherwise. Kurt hadn't even seen Blaine in his glasses other than a couple of days when Blaine had pulled an all-nighter and couldn't get his contacts to go in. Judging by the dark circles under his eyes, it had been days since Blaine had actually slept. "What do you need me to do?"
"I don't know… I don't know what to do, I don't know what I'm supposed to do. I don't know who to call…"
"Okay. Let's start with getting out of the cold. Where are your keys?" Kurt took the keys from Blaine's hand, walking over to the front door and opening it before he walked back over to Blaine and gently pulled the boy to his feet. He held the blanket around the older boy's shoulders as they walked inside, shutting and locking the door behind them. "You need sleep first."
Blaine didn't resist Kurt's efforts to steer him up the stairs and down the hall to what Kurt knew was Blaine's bedroom. The bed was still made, indicative that Blaine hadn't been home in a while. Blaine never made his bed. But Kurt simply pulled back the blankets and helped Blaine into the bed, pulling off the older boy's shoes and covering him with the blankets.
"Stay with me, please," Blaine begged. Kurt nodded as he pulled the glasses off Blaine's face and carefully placed them on the nightstand.
"Okay. I'm just going to lay down too." Kurt moved around to the other side of the bed, kicking off his own shoes and crawling under the blankets next to Blaine, reaching over to hold the older boy's hand. He was a little surprised when Blaine turned and pulled him closer, almost as if he needed the comfort of feeling Kurt's body pressed against him. But the boy's eyes closed and he drifted off to sleep before Kurt could say or do anything about it, and he didn't think he should move away when Blaine clearly needed his presence.
Kurt glanced down at the screen on his phone for what felt like the millionth time that day. His dad was on his way to Blaine's house to help the boy figure everything out. Kurt had gotten yelled when he'd finally woken up and called home, but as soon as Burt Hummel had heard the explanation the man had agreed to drive down and do what he could.
Blaine had slept on and off all morning; Kurt had done what he could around the house, checking on Blaine constantly to make sure that the older boy didn't need anything. Now there was nothing more for him to do but wait. Blaine was in the shower getting ready to go take care of all the things that had to be done, including a trip to the funeral home to make arrangements.
The doorbell rang and Kurt jumped up from the couch, thankful for his father's arrival. He opened the door and wrapped his arms around his father in a hug. "Thank Gaga you're here…"
"How is Blaine holding up?" Burt asked, walking into the house and closing the door behind him. Kurt led the man into the living room so that they could sit down until Blaine came downstairs.
"He's still in shock, I think. He slept most of the morning, and now he's getting a shower," Kurt replied.
"How about you? Are you doing okay with this?"
"I'm fine, dad. Why wouldn't I be?"
"I can think of a lot of reasons, actually. Have either of you eaten anything yet?" Burt asked.
"No. I made some coffee a little while ago, but Blaine said he wasn't hungry and nothing really sounded appealing to me."
"We'll stop when we go out and get something for the two of you to eat. Does he have any family we need to call?"
"His dad's alive somewhere. But Blaine hasn't talked to the man since he was a kid." Kurt looked up as he heard Blaine shuffling down the stairs, toweling his hair dry. The older boy was only wearing a pair of jeans with a belt, almost as if he'd forgotten that he was getting dressed. Kurt watched from where he was sitting as Blaine's feet hit the tile at the bottom of the stairs and the older boy sat down with a soft thud. Kurt watched for a moment as Blaine leaned forward and buried his face in his hands, the boy's shoulders shaking in silent sobs.
Kurt slowly padded over to Blaine and sat down, putting an arm around him and just holding the older boy as he cried.
"I'm here…" Kurt whispered.
"I'm sorry… I shouldn't…"
"Just shut up and cry. You need this. Go ahead… let it out." Kurt tightened his grip around Blaine's shoulders and just held the boy for a while, until finally Blaine's shoulders stopped shaking and Blaine sat up. His face was red and wet, but he looked calmer than he had before.
"Thank you. I needed that."
"I know. It won't be the last time, either," Kurt replied. He sighed and reached up to wipe tears from the older boy's face. "But I'm here. You don't have to be alone through this."
"I don't think I can do this, Kurt. I don't think I can go down there and make all of the plans and act like I can handle all of this because I can't."
"I'm sure you're stronger than you think, Blaine. Besides, I called my dad. He came to help, if you want him to…" Kurt watched silently as Blaine nodded.
"Yeah… okay." Kurt smiled slightly, ruffling the older boy's wet hair.
"Go finish getting dressed. I'll bring you some coffee, and then my dad said he would take us to get something to eat when we go out."
Kurt watched Blaine carefully as the boy got out of Kurt's SUV. At the restaurant it had been easy to get Blaine out of the car, but Kurt felt like he had been standing outside the vehicle for ages while Burt tried to coax Blaine out. Kurt could see that there were fresh tears in Blaine's eyes as he exited the car, and Kurt reached out and took his hand in an attempt to comfort the older boy. Kurt knew that it wasn't really possible for him to make the pain go away, but he wanted to be there to at least try to help.
Kurt's dad had a box full of paperwork they'd spent almost an hour gathering from various places around the house and from the safe deposit box at the bank, things that were essential for what they were about to do. Insurance policies, birth certificates, and the like.
"I don't think I can handle this…" Blaine whispered, leaning his head against Kurt's shoulder as they walked towards the building.
"That's why my dad and I are here. You can do this… we're going to help."
Blaine managed to make it through the bulk of the arrangements without breaking down. Something told Kurt that having something to do, having details to pay attention to, played a big part in keeping the boy together. In the end, it was picking out the casket that sent the boy over the edge, running out of the room and falling down to the floor by a trash can as he retched. There wasn't anything anyone could do but wait for it to be over as Kurt gently rubbed the older boy's back.
"I'm sorry… I just can't do this…" Blaine whispered, shaking his head as he stared absently down into the trashcan at the contents of his stomach. From the look on his face, Kurt could tell that Blaine wasn't actually seeing what was in the trashcan. "I… I can't be this strong. I'm not supposed to be doing this…"
"You're doing fine… you've been so strong already, Blaine." Kurt watched as Blaine shook his head.
"I can't do it anymore… please, Kurt. Let's just go."
"It's one more decision… one more thing to decide, a little bit of paperwork, and then we can go," Kurt reassured, taking the older boy's hand. He smiled up at the funeral director as the man handed him a bottle of water. Kurt uncapped the bottle and handed it over to the older boy, who took a few slow sips. Kurt stood up, taking Blaine's arm and gently helping him to his feet. "You can do this, okay? I know you can." Blaine just nodded, his eyes still absently staring as his body moved mechanically.
It took another twenty minutes to get through everything before they could leave, but Kurt was just thankful it was over. He wasn't sure if he was going to be able to keep Blaine from falling apart completely much longer.
Kurt had every intention of giving Blaine the front seat for the ride back to his house, but the older boy followed him into the backseat of the SUV as Burt got in the driver's seat. Kurt moved all the way across the seat, surprised when Blaine followed him as far as he could and buckled himself into the center seat so that he could curl himself up next to Kurt and tuck his head into the hollow between Kurt's shoulder and chin. Kurt carefully put an arm around Blaine's shoulders, gently rubbing the older boy's arm as they sat there. If it hadn't been for the circumstances, Kurt would have felt confused about the entire situation. But this… Kurt knew it was just that Blaine needed to feel that Kurt was there, to have a warm body he could curl up against and try to forget everything.
"Do we have to do anything else?" Blaine asked softly.
"The funeral home will take care of everything else. Except calling your family… but Kurt and I can take care of that when we get back to your house if you're not feeling up to it. We'll just need you to tell us who to call."
"I don't have any family to call… I don't even know if my mom had my dad's phone number. I don't even know anything about him…"
"We'll figure it out, okay?" Kurt was thankful for his father; Kurt didn't know what to do to help Blaine, but for some reason it seemed as though Burt knew exactly what Blaine needed to hear. Or at least how to say what needed to be said in a way that would at least limit the pain the boy had to deal with.
"I'm not even sure I want to see him again… he just disappeared. All he ever bothered to send were checks. He couldn't even be bothered to remember my birthday…"
"Even if you don't want to see him, he needs to know. Especially if he was sending your mom money for you…" Burt began. Blaine shut his eyes as the man spoke and Kurt shot his father a look in the rearview mirror to indicate that it probably wasn't a good time for that particular conversation. Blaine didn't need to know that Kurt's dad knew about the financial arrangement there. It wasn't necessary; that was something that could be discussed later, when Blaine wasn't on the verge of losing it.
The remainder of the drive home was silent, with Blaine curled up against Kurt. Kurt did his best to ignore the growing wet spot on the front of his shirt, but he wanted to do something to try and make things better for Blaine. He couldn't think of anything that would actually make it hurt less for the older boy. And Kurt hated that he couldn't do anything for Blaine.
Kurt looked down at Blaine as they pulled into the driveway of the boy's house, smiling down at him as Kurt realized that Blaine had fallen asleep against his chest. "I hate to wake him up… I don't think he slept at all while his mom was in the hospital," Kurt commented.
"What happened to her? Did he tell you?"
"No. He just sort of disappeared from school…" Kurt began. "I think he mentioned her being sick a while ago. But it didn't sound like it was that bad."
"Obviously whatever it was ended up being worse than he let on…" Kurt sighed before reaching down to unbuckle his seatbelt and gently shaking Blaine to wake him up. "Hey… we're back at your place."
"I don't want to go inside… I don't want to be anywhere near this place."
"I don't know that you're going to have much of a choice, kid…" Burt began. Kurt and Blaine both turned to see the vehicle that had pulled up next to them in the driveway.
"Look, my son and I are going to be here at least until after the funeral. I can talk to my wife about afterwards…"
"Mr. Hummel, that's all well and good but it's my job to make sure that Blaine is taken care of." Kurt turned so that he could see Blaine's face as they sat at the top of the stairs, listening in on the conversation that was taking place in the living room between Kurt's father and the social worker that had shown up.
"He's one of my son's best friends, Miss Carter. And right now what Blaine needs is some stability that you can't provide."
"And you think that your family can?" Kurt watched Blaine's face, trying to figure out what the older boy was thinking.
"I can put a roof over his head, keep him in the same school. My son's mother died when he was nine. My family is about as stable as you're going to find in this country, Miss Carter."
Kurt watched as Blaine stood up and walked the rest of the way up the stairs, heading into his bedroom. He followed immediately, more concerned about what Blaine was thinking than the argument that was going on in the living room without them.
"You notice that neither of them are thinking about asking me what I want. They're planning out my future in there…" Kurt watched as Blaine paced around the room silently fuming for a moment.
"They just want to do what's best for you, Blaine."
"And I don't get a say in that?" Blaine asked, turning to Kurt and crossing his arms. Kurt watched silently as Blaine sat down on the side of the bed and sighed. "I just want them to ask for my opinion. I want to control something about my life. I need to control something. Because I'm not used to being so completely out of control and I don't know if I can take much more of this."
"I can talk to them…" Kurt began.
"Please. I need this." Kurt nodded and turned to walk out of the room. "If your dad asks, I'm going to say yes. I just don't think I can deal with not having any control right now."
The argument didn't seem to be getting any closer to a resolution as Kurt walked down the stairs. "I understand that this is your job… but that kid doesn't have anyone but his friends. And I'm not going to let you put him in some foster home – or a group home – that's going to take him away from that." Kurt stopped at the bottom of the stairs with his arms crossed.
"Have either of you thought about asking Blaine what he wants to do?" Kurt asked. He watched as the social worker and his father both turned around to face him. "He wants to be in control of something in his life. This is something he should be given a say about."
"He's sixteen years old…" the social worker started.
"He's old enough to live by himself if he wants. If he's old enough to do that, why isn't he old enough to decide who he's going to live with?"
"That's the best idea I've heard all day." Kurt smiled slightly at his father, glad that the man was on his side. It made things easier. "Blaine should get to decide if he wants to."
"I'm supposed to make sure that Blaine's best interests are being taken care of…" the social worker began.
"Isn't it in his best interest for him to be happy?" Burt asked. "Look, if you want to come and visit our house or whatever the hell it is you do for foster families, I'm okay with that. But if that kid chooses to come to live with my family, then that's where he's going to be." Kurt watched as his father stood up. "Where's Blaine? We need to talk to him."
"I'll get him to come down." Kurt turned and went back up the stairs, ducking his head into Blaine's room. He was still sitting on the bed, just staring at the floor a few feet away. "My dad wants to talk to you, at least. He agreed with my suggestion that they ask what you want. Not sure the social worker is buying it, though."
"Maybe she'll see it once I talk to them…" Blaine started, standing up. Kurt followed the older boy downstairs and stayed at the edge of the room as Blaine sat down on the couch near Kurt's dad.
"I don't know how I'm going to do this… I can't even tie my own fucking tie." Kurt looked up from where he was putting on his shoes, smiling slightly at the mess Blaine had made of the black silk tie around his neck. Kurt stood up and walked over with his left shoe still untied, reaching up to fix it. It only took him a minute to fix it into a full Windsor knot, just like the one they all used at school.
"There… you look good."
"I feel like I'm going to throw up again. I don't want to do this…"
"You can do this. Two hours, and then you can relax." Kurt reached out and put a hand on Blaine's shoulder. "I'll be right there with you the entire time."
"You shouldn't have to be… this shouldn't be happening…" Blaine began. Kurt watched as the tears started to slip down his face again and leaned in to wrap his arms around Blaine's body in a hug. "I just want things to go back to normal. I could deal with my mom being sick. She wasn't supposed to die…"
"I wish there was something I could say…"
"I just don't understand… she had diabetes for years. Until a week ago she was fine, and then all of a sudden she just… wasn't." Kurt couldn't help the tears that started to well in his own eyes as he heard what had happened; it was all too similar to what had happened to his own mother.
"I know it's hard. But you can get through this… it's not going to be easy, but you're going to be okay."
"I don't want to go, Kurt. I don't even know most of these people…"
"You'll regret it if you don't go. You may not think so, but it'll help if you go… it's sort of an important step," Kurt replied.
"I'm not ready to say goodbye. It's too soon…"
"I know. It's not fair… but you'll regret it every day for the rest of your life if you don't do this now."
"I keep forgetting she isn't here… I walked into her room this morning while you were in the shower to ask her a question." Kurt smiled slightly as Blaine pulled away from the hug, remembering how he had done the same thing after his own mother had died. "That's normal, right? Forgetting that she's gone?"
"Yeah, it is. But eventually you'll start to remember. And it'll start to hurt less."
"As much as it hurts right now, I'm not sure it'll ever get any better," Blaine whispered. "She was everything I had, and now she's gone." Kurt sighed, sitting back down on the bed so that he could finish tying his shoes.
"Boys, we need to get going. Carole and Finn are meeting us at the funeral home."
"They don't have to come…" Blaine began.
"They want to come. To be here for you. That's why we're all here," Burt replied. "You boys hurry up and finish getting ready. We need to leave in the next few minutes or we'll be late." Kurt nodded and stood up, checking his hair in the mirror one final time before he put a hand on Blaine's back to lead the older boy down the stairs.
The car ride was silent and tense; neither Hummel knew what to say, and Blaine seemed lost in thought throughout the entire ride. It was almost painful. As soon as the funeral home came into view, Kurt could see the way Blaine's body tensed. The older boy's knuckles were white from gripping the door handle as if it was going to run away from him and Kurt could see the muscles in Blaine's neck tighten uncomfortably. Kurt reached out and put a hand on Blaine's shoulder, gently squeezing it in an attempt to be reassuring.
"Relax…" Kurt whispered. He watched as a slight smile spread across Blaine's face for a moment. "It's okay. You can do this."
The sun beat down on the back of Kurt's neck as they walked towards the parking lot, leaving Blaine alone at the graveside for a few moments. He needed the time to say goodbye in his own way, without everyone crowding around him. But that didn't stop Kurt, Wes, and David from stopping at the edge of the cemetery to wait for him. They were his best friends.
"I can't believe he didn't say anything to any of us." Kurt glanced at David as the older boy spoke.
"I can. He didn't tell us the last time she wasn't doing well, either. Blaine has always thought that he had to take care of everything for himself," Wes replied.
"Well he can't do this alone. He needs us this time, even if he doesn't want to admit it," Kurt added. "He's moving in with us, for now at least. My dad invited him… and I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have taken no for an answer after the conversation Blaine and I overheard with that social worker."
"He's going to be okay, right?" David asked, looking Kurt in the eye.
"I think so. He's a mess right now, but he has us. We just have to be here for him, when he's ready to talk." Kurt watched as Blaine started to walk away from the grave and took a deep breath. "Nothing you say can make it better, okay? For now, he just needs you to be here for him."
A/n: So yeah, this has taken me over a week to write… it's probably one of the most intense pieces I've written since my dad's death, and it's the first thing I've written like this that didn't make me break down in tears as I wrote it. And it's probably one of my favorite things I've ever written.