Title: I Will Wait for You if You Do For Me (from the song by I Fight Dragons)
Pairing: Kurt Hummel/Blaine Anderson (Klaine, AU)
Rating: T for Teen / PG-13 (just to be safe)
Warnings: Character death. You'll probably cry.
Author's Notes: This is, stylistically, different from anything I have ever written before. It's based off of a graphic I saw on Tumblr (sadly, I have lost the link, but for those of you who have seen it, you'll know which one it is as you read this story). Be warned that the scenes jump from the present to memories he has had. Also, I do change perspectives one time, but it was intentional. The only thing I ask of you is that you don't comment on the more technical aspects of this story. I did very little research for it. I just wrote. So suspension of disbelief. Use it. I hope you enjoy. (:
"Blaine's dead, Kurt."
He opens his eyes, the sun warm on his face. Smiling, Kurt's fingers twist into the blades of grass, the spring breeze soft and cool. Across the park, he can see children playing on the monkey bars or swinging on the swing set, and he finds himself feeling more content than he has in a long time.
Rolling over onto his stomach, Kurt looks up and sees Blaine standing a few feet away, holding two bottles of water. Kurt sits up onto his knees, taking one of the bottles when it's offered to him. Smiling widely as Blaine sits next to him, Kurt twists the cap until the seal snaps, and he takes a long drink, sighing contentedly once he has swallowed. When he glances over, he sees that Blaine is staring at him.
"What?" Kurt asks, self-consciously.
"Nothing," Blaine answers, shaking his head and opening his own bottle, taking a drink. The breeze rustles the grass, and Blaine runs a hand through his hair as Kurt watches.
Looking away, Kurt bites his lip a little and grips the grass, ripping little chunks out of the ground. The end of the month is approaching.
Calloused fingers wrap around his, preventing him from tearing up the grass anymore. "Hey," Blaine murmurs, sliding a little closer, pressing their arms against one another and twining their fingers together. "What's wrong?"
Kurt doesn't answer – just stares at their hands and that ring on his left hand. Blaine leans forward and presses his lips to Kurt's shoulder, his curls tickling the brunet's cheek. It takes a few minutes before Kurt will look at him. And even then, there are tears in his eyes. "I just really love you," he answers thickly.
Smiling gently, Blaine kisses his cheek. "I really love you, too."
Kurt smiles, and blinks.
Blaine is gone.
He's not smiling anymore.
The sun is still shining, but instead of looking at Blaine, he's looking at a headstone.
"Baby," says a voice at Kurt's elbow.
He doesn't react.
1994 – 2018
"Kurt, it's time to go home now," Mercedes urges maternally.
"Home?" Kurt answers dully, his eyes burning though he doesn't feel like crying. Not anymore. "I don't have a home."
"What are you talking about?" she asks, pressing her fingers against his shoulder, rubbing circles against his black pea coat.
Kurt doesn't look away from the headstone. "I don't have a home," he repeats dully. "My home is gone."
"No regrets, just love."
My home is dead.
"Blaine is dead, Kurt."
He opens his eyes in the middle of the night and finds himself face-to-face with Blaine. He's asleep, and Kurt finds himself totally entranced by his boyfriend's look of utter repose. Slowly, he reaches out, tailing his fingers along Blaine's jaw, feeling stubble against his fingertips. Just as he brushes them against Blaine's lips, Blaine exhales and blinks his eyes open.
"I'm sorry," Kurt apologizes instantly, though he doesn't look very sorry. "Did I wake you?"
Blaine just stares. Then he smiles.
"…What?" Kurt asks wearily. He doesn't like the look in Blaine's eye. It's the look that tells him that he's plotting something.
"I think I want to marry you."
"…I beg your pardon?"
Grinning sleepily at Kurt's shell-shocked reaction, Blaine leans in a little. "We should get married."
His smile threatens to split his face in half. Kurt feels his eyes tear as he clasps both of Blaine's hands tightly. "Really?"
"Of course." Without batting an eyelash, Blaine pulls Kurt closer so their bodies are pressed close together, their noses gently brushing against one another. "Why would I ever joke about this? I want to call you my husband." Against his cheek, Kurt feels Blaine's gentle smile turn into a grin. "And I want to be able to tickle you whenever I want without you threatening to break up with me!" Suddenly, he begins to tickle Kurt. Squealing, the brunet squirms in his lover's arms, shrieking with a combination and delight and resistance.
"Stop!" he yells, laughing. "Stop! Stop! Stop!"
He manages to roll over, Blaine's hands pressed to his back, clamping his eyes shut.
He allows himself a few moments to breath before those warm hands are no longer there.
Blinking his eyes open, he looks over his shoulder. Blaine isn't in the bed anymore.
A quiet thud makes him raise his head, and Kurt sees him across the room at the dresser, selecting a fresh set of cargo pants, a plain standard-issue army T-shirt, and underwear. His heart sinks at the sight, and before he can roll over and pretend to go back to sleep so he doesn't have to face the truth, Blaine glances up.
His expression is a mixture of remorse, guilt, and apologetic. "I'm sorry. Did I wake you?"
Kurt shrugs and drops his head back on the pillow listlessly. He can't stand the thought of Blaine going through basic training. Because he knows that at the end of it, Blaine isn't coming home. He'll be going overseas.
It's not the being alone part that scares Kurt the most. He can do that. He can live knowing that Blaine is alive, engaged to him, and coming home after his tour. It's the fact that there is a chance that once Blaine goes over there, he won't be coming back.
Not alive, at least.
"Hey," Blaine whispers, the bed sinking lower as he rests his hand on Kurt's back. Unconsciously, Kurt leans back into it, relishing the warmth, before gingerly turning his head to look up at his fiancée. "Everything's going to be fine."
"You and Blaine are like songbirds," Mercedes said one time in particular.
"How do you know that?" Kurt answers quietly, blinking slowly.
"Have a little faith?" Blaine brushes his fingertips through Kurt's hair. "You're worrying for nothing. I might not have to do any fighting at all."
Kurt turns away again, feeling tears prickle his eyes.
"How do you mean?" he responded, confused.
Blaine leans down and presses his lips to Kurt's hair before getting off the bed and heading into the shower. It's not until he's gone that Kurt lets his tears fall, hot and fast, down his cheeks.
She shrugged. "You know. Certain songbirds mate for life, and when one of them dies… well, the other one dies of heartbreak, too."
"Did you hear me? Say something, please."
Kurt watches Blaine get into his uniform for the last time, though he doesn't know it yet. The bags are packed, sitting on the stripped bed. While Blaine goes overseas, Kurt's heading out to New York to try and break his way into the fashion industry. He's already got an internship at a fashion magazine, a la The Devil Wears Prada. Their apartment has already been snatched up by some poor community college-goer who hates their parents enough to want out.
"Are you ready?"
Kurt blinks, looking up. "Huh? Oh, yeah. Sure."
They gather their things and head down to the apartment parking lot. They don't talk much on the way to the Anderson house, though Kurt has one of Blaine's hands in his in a death-like vice. Even after they get there, he stays silent as Blaine interacts with his parents, laughing and joking like he's only going away for a few days, not a few months. Kurt tries to cheer up, he really tries, but it's impossible.
They pile into Blaine's parent's Yukon XL and head to the airport. He rests his head against the window, watching as they drive through Lima before getting into the backroads – not heading in the direction of the airport at all. For a moment, he's confused.
He blinks and looks over at Mercedes behind the steering wheel of his Navigator.
"I have to ask… what're you gonna do now?"
He turns away again, staring out the window. "I'll go back to New York," he answers. Truthfully, he hasn't even thought about what he's going to do, how he's going to go on. It had been hard enough living there alone, knowing that Blaine was over there fighting for America. It would be harder now, knowing he would never have anyone to come home to.
Abruptly, a sob rips from his throat, tears burning his eyes so strongly that when he blinks, they roll down his cheeks, hot and fast. Mercedes looks over at him, alarmed at the sudden transition from total indifference to absolute heartbreak, and pulls over onto the shoulder of the road. "Baby," she says, heartbroken, unbuckling her seatbelt. Kurt's sobs are too loud in the car, almost like they're a physical manifestation of sound, suffocating him. He struggles to take a proper breath as he's drawn into Mercedes' arms, clinging to her as tightly as he possibly can.
"He's gone!" he screams, angry and heartbroken and alone and terrified of nothing and everything all at the same time. "He's gone…"
"Are you there? Did you hear me? Kurt, please…"
He crawls into the bed at his father's house that he hasn't used in years, laying face down against his pillows. Though he'd never say it, he hopes he smothers himself to death by accident. He's exhausted, but his mind is so wired and he's so tense all over that he can't force himself to sleep. He rolls over onto his side and stares aimlessly into the dark, his eyes wide and raw and unblinking.
Eventually, he does close his eyes, and when he opens them again, he's laying on the couch. Well, no. Not his father's couch. Blaine's couch.
He sits up abruptly, looking around, disoriented. The door of the parlor opens, and Blaine steps inside, carrying a bunch of blankets. He blinks at Kurt, and then smiles, his dimples creasing his cheeks and making his eyes crinkle. Kurt wants to kiss every ripple, every wrinkle, every part of him.
"You're awake!" Blaine notes, surprised. He drops his armful of quilts onto the nearby armchair, collapsing onto the couch beside Kurt. "How was your nap?"
"I don't even remember falling asleep," Kurt admits, running a hand through his hair. He's sure he looks like a mess, but he could care less right now.
"Yeah." Blaine rubs the back of his head a little, smiling sheepishly. "You kind of dozed off on the way back from Dalton. You were like a little kid when I tried to get you into the house."
Kurt hopes he doesn't look as red as his face feels. "D… Did you carry me?"
His boyfriend dodges the question by pulling an envelope seemingly out of nowhere. "Look at what just came in the mail."
Grinning widely, Kurt takes it from him, looking at the university logo. He pulls out the packets of papers, the printed Congratulations! making him smile even wider than before. "This is fantastic." He rifles through the pamphlets, the instructions, the physical forms, and stops short when he sees a pamphlet he doesn't expect.
The words are too bold. Like they're mocking him.
"Yeah," Blaine says softly, rubbing the back of his neck and hesitating to meet Kurt's incredulous gaze. "Reserve Officers Training Corps. I'm… I'm joining them."
It doesn't make sense. "Why would you do that?"
Blaine finally looks up at Kurt, his own expression one of mild confusion, as if he doesn't understand why Kurt hasn't made the connection yet. "…I want to go into the army after college, Kurt…"
"What…" He blinks, still uncomprehending. "Why didn't you tell me before?"
Blaine shrugs a little, looking down at the envelope in Kurt's lap. "Because I know if you put up a big enough fight, I wouldn't have done it." He looks up, his hazel eyes wide and gentle, unafraid of the future, whatever it has in store for him. "And this is what I want, Kurt. This is what I've wanted for a long time."
"And with Don't Ask, Don't Tell repealed, I can serve openly and still stay with you. I can still be with you." He reaches out, twining their hands together. "Just… all I ask is that you're supportive, you know? This isn't the end of the world. And it's something that's important to me."
Kurt doesn't say anything.
"Didn't we always say that we'd accept each other, just as we are?" Blaine insists, wanting to get some kind of response from his boyfriend. But Kurt just stares at Blaine, unable to form words.
Terror. He's terrified.
"You didn't ask my dad's permission first?"
Blaine just grins and shrugs, adjusting his scarf as he watches Kurt collect the various Christmas packages from the trunk of the Navigator. "Your dad likes me well enough. I figured it wouldn't be that big of an issue!"
"We're both talking about Burt Hummel, right?" To which Blaine just laughs at loud, taking an armful of gifts from Kurt. And though Kurt only smiles in reply, he still feels the prickle of fear in his stomach, making him feel a little sick with anxiety. What if Burt really doesn't like Blaine? What if Burt has just been putting on a good face for Kurt's sake? Then again, Burt Hummel is a horrible actor…
It's Carole who answers the door, and when Kurt walks inside, he instantly feels at home. He loves his place with Blaine, but he will always love this place, too. Inside, Finn and his most recent girlfriend (did he and Rachel break up again?) are already sitting on the couch drinking eggnog. All the pleasantries are exchanged, and Christmas at the Hudmel household is underway.
Dinner is just shy of awkward with the stranger at the table, though Kurt and Blaine are so comfortable exchanging old stories with Carole and Burt. Finn and the girl excuse themselves just after dessert, though Kurt and Blaine stay, eat more pie, and drink more wine.
"Hey, dad," Kurt says as they settle into the living room to watch A Christmas Story for the millionth time that day.
"'Sup, kiddo?" he asks, nursing his beer and glancing away from the television. The nickname makes Kurt smile a little, and he knows that he could be old and in a wheelchair, and his father would still call him that.
Blaine stares at Kurt, his fingers toying with the unobtrusive ring on Kurt's finger that has gone unnoticed. Kurt doesn't look away from his father, and he takes a deep breath. "Blaine asked me to marry him."
The room is silent. Carole abruptly appears in the doorway, her face alight with joy, though her eyes rest on Burt and she resists saying something as they all wait for the older man to say something in response. For a few moments, he just watches Kurt, expression unreadable, before slowly turning his eyes to Blaine.
"You asked my son to marry you?"
Blaine shrugs coolly and smiles. "It was more of a request."
Burt nods slowly and looks at Kurt again. "What did you say?"
All eyes are on him. Sitting up a little straighter, Kurt finally looks away from Burt and leans forward to press his forehead to Blaine's. "I said yes," he whispers, twining their fingers together. Carole squeaks, and he doesn't have to look up to know she's started to cry. He does, however, look away from Blaine to watch Burt.
Burt slowly gets out of his chair and makes his way across the room. Kurt reluctantly lets go of Blaine's hand as his father pulls him to his feet. Then, he's pulled into a warm, tight embrace, and Kurt hugs him back, pressing his face into his father's shoulder. "Congratulations," Burt says gruffly, pulling away and turning to Blaine, who has already stood up. He's hugged as well, and Kurt swears he can hear, "I'm trusting you with him," as he's pulled into Carole's arms.
"Yes, this is he."
"It's Wes. Listen, I… I have something –"
"Wes? Wes Claybrook? Wow – it's great to hear from you! But listen, Wes, I'd love to talk, but I'm actually on the way out the door for a fashion show –"
"Look, Kurt, you need to listen to me. It's really important. It's about Bl –"
"I'd love to talk, Wes, but really, this is very important for my job –"
"Blaine is dead, Kurt."
"Blaine is dead, Kurt."
Dead? That's… that's impossible, he's –
"Did you hear me? Say something, please?"
– he just called me yesterday!
"Are you there? Did you hear me? Kurt, please…"
Did I say that?
"Car bombing. Only one of them survived."
"How many were there?"
Is… is that my voice? I sound like a robot…
"Six or seven, maybe… They said it was instantaneous."
"I have to go now."
Kurt finds himself at the airport with a one-way plane ticket, on the phone with his father. He wants to cry, wants to scream, wants to feel something, but he just feels… broken. Empty. His true love, his other half, is dead.
Oddly, he has no inclination to find out who the only living solider is for fear of killing him himself. For living when Kurt's entire world was taken from him.
His father picks him up at the airport. They're silent as they load up Kurt's bags into the car and drive back to the house. Nothing has changed. It's all the same. His bedroom has been left untouched. To his surprise, one of Blaine's sweatshirts is still draped on the back of his chair, and he finds the sight so painful that he has to shove it to the back of his closet.
Burt comes in and catches him in the act. When he steps out of the closet, he stops short at seeing his father in the doorway, twisting his lips into a frown. He doesn't say anything – just heads over to his duffle bag, beginning to unpack his skin care products.
"Have you talked to the Andersons?"
Burt stands by awkwardly, rubbing his bald head. "…No. Listen, Kurt –"
"What's for dinner? I was thinking about making some crepes for dessert. I know how much you like them."
"Listen, Kurt, dinner's not important. Besides, Carole has it all covered. I have to ask –"
"Kurt!" He looks up, eyes wide, at the harsh tone his father has used with him. Burt comes forward, placing a hand on Kurt's shoulder. "Kurt, listen to me. Stop the charade. You were going to marry him."
The words hit him. The past tense – were going – send him over the edge somehow, and he throws himself into Burt's arms, face pressed against to that strong shoulder, tears wetting the flannel shirt. His father smells like motor oil and the potpourri Carole likes to use – the smell that used to be home, and Kurt is so overcome that he begins to collapse.
Burt collects him into his arms like his son is five, not twenty-four, and sits with him on the bed until Kurt has exhausted himself with his tears. Slowly, he gets off the bed and goes over to the old bureau in the corner, pulling open the bottom drawer out and setting it onto the bed beside Kurt.
His eyes sting with tears as he gets a whiff of the perfume inside, thinking of his own loss and how he had hoped and prayed to whatever god there was that Kurt didn't have to go through the same thing.
Burt Hummel lost his faith that day.
After the funeral, he doesn't go back to New York. He moves back into that familiar house that's not quite home, even though it was and could be once more. He helps Carole with dinner, sees friends he hasn't seen in years, does mundane routines that involve laundry and dishes, and eventually goes searching for a job, and gets one at a little bridal boutique hemming and adjusting dresses. At first, he visits Blaine's grave every day. Sometimes, he cries over it. Other times, he just talks. More often than not, he just sits there quietly, staring at the headstone, wondering how his life had been torn apart by a single roadside bomber.
At the graveside, he sits in the grass with his eyes closed, letting the sun warm his face.
"I laughed today," he says suddenly, to no one in particular. As if a response from Blaine himself, the breeze picks up, ruffling his hair, as the clouds roll out so he can bask in the sun completely. It's been almost eight months since the unspeakable had happened, and this is the first time Kurt has talked about something other than how much he misses Blaine.
"It was really strange," he admits, finally opening his eyes and sitting forward, staring at Blaine's name carved into the granite. "And really random. But this woman came in to get her wedding dress taken in, and she had a little girl with her. And the little girl stepped on the train, and it ripped." He smiles, eyes crinkling at the corners, and he almost laughs again. "I should have been angry, but the look on her face…" A giggle bubbles up before he can help himself. "…it was pure gold. I laughed."
He begins to cry, then, though he doesn't sob. The tears roll down his cheeks slowly and silently. "It's really strange because I was so used to feeling that way about you." Kurt wipes his face with the back of his hand, pulling a few blades of grass out of the dirt. "All the laughs we had, you know? I… I'd forgotten what it was like to be happy without you. You were just… a part of me. A huge part of me. And now you're gone."
Sniffing, Kurt swallows thickly and smiles again. "I want to adopt," he admits. "I don't… I don't think that I'm ready to let go of you. You'll always be mine, and I've loved you for too long to stop now. But I'm ready to give some of that love to someone new. So I've… I've been thinking long and hard. I know it won't be easy, but I'm gonna try. See if anything comes of it."
I can only go up from here, he thinks, biting his bottom lip and rolling it between his teeth.
"I'm not going to come back every day, either," he says slowly, as if expecting some kind of negative response. But the breeze keeps blowing, the sun keeps shining, and clouds keep rolling on their merry way. The only one who is affected so strongly by this is Kurt. "I… I can't move on if I keep coming back here." Sighing, Kurt gets to his feet and stands there for a few moments, smiles again, and turns away.
He looks up, doing a bit of a double-take at the sight of Karofsky standing near the bench he's sitting on. In uniform, no less.
"Hey, Dave," he greets, smiling wryly and sliding over with his bag to make room for the bigger man to sit down. He does so, sinking heavily onto the bench, looking exhausted. It's been too long – too many years – but his life is finally in order. Too bad he's gotten himself stuck in Lima. He put down too many roots before he could get out – his family, his daughter, and that beloved headstone in the cemetery on the hill. "Um, what are you doing here?"
Karofsky shrugs rubs the back of his neck. "Just got off duty," he says with a sigh, and Kurt feels the sharp, painful pang of envy. "I'm going home to my folks. I just… wanted to see this park again."
There's a short lull of silence between them before Karofsky points over to the nearby playground where Kurt has been staring. "One of them yours?"
"Huh? O-Oh, yeah. The little girl with black hair."
"She's pretty," he says, and Kurt graciously accepts the compliment on her behalf. "What's her name?"
"Laina." The closest he could come to giving a piece of Blaine to the daughter his fiancé will never know.
Karofsky makes the connection of names immediately and looks down at his hands anxiously. "I… I lied, you know. About wanting to see this park. I actually came here to talk to you." Kurt looks up, perplexed, but before he can get a word in edgewise, the man sitting next to him shocks him with his words. "You know that soldier? The one who survived the bomb? Well... I just... I cam to tell you that it's me. I'm him." He looked down at his hands, speaking softly. "The only soldier to survive that bomb. Blaine was in my unit. And I feel really, really awful that... that I lived when he died."
Kurt's not quite sure what to say, so he doesn't say anything. He's afraid that the only sound that will come out will be a sob.
"He pushed me onto the floor of the car, tried to get me out of the way. Your boyfriend saved my life. If I could turn the tables, I would in a heartbeat."
When Kurt doesn't respond, Karofsky just gets up. Kurt knows he's standing there awkwardly, unsure of what to say, before whispering, "I'm… I just wanted to let you know that I will never forget what he's done for me. What you've both done for me."
Kurt nods without looking up, eyes stinging, and Karofsky heads off, and Kurt turns his gaze to the sky, blinking back tears.
I'll never forget, either.