This story is in response to an idea I saw on tumblr (you can find the original post on my own tumblr, link in my profile). You can find my full analysis and explanation for everything about this piece there as well.
I just hope you guys enjoy this, even though it was enough to make me cry as I wrote it.
Disclaimer: I don't own Glee or any of its characters.
When Blaine catches up with Kurt on the grounds outside of Dalton Academy's main building, he immediately notices something is off. The set of Kurt's jaw is strained and his eyes are red and swollen. "Hey," he says, touching Kurt's shoulder to get his attention but the boy doesn't stop walking. Blaine has to quicken his pace in order to keep up with Kurt's longer strides and this time he tugs at the material of Kurt's blazer. "Hey, I missed you at breakfast this morning."
Normally, the words "I missed you" would have caused Kurt's heart skip a beat, but instead his stomach gives a queasy swoop because on top of everything else, now he feels guilty. This morning he'd spent at least an hour lying in bed, staring at the ceiling without really registering what he was looking at. It had taken him all his strength to get out of bed, much less go through his morning routine. Kurt had hoped that people would take his stiff demeanor as they did any other day he was in a mood—that they should avoid asking questions unless they wanted a certified Kurt Hummel scream-session. So far it had worked, which was lucky for Kurt because he was too drained to actually yell at anybody.
He doesn't reply to Blaine's comment until they reach the steps of the building, "I'm just tired. I didn't sleep well last night," he chooses to say. Which isn't a lie. He hadn't slept much the entire week. After all the craze of transferring and then sectionals and now regionals, the day had crept up on him. But when he glanced at his calendar on Monday suddenly it all rushed back to him. Now it is Friday and Kurt's sense of dread has given way to something deeper.
Blaine doesn't believe Kurt's answer for a second, but the distressed look Kurt gives him makes Blaine think twice about pushing him about it. When, or even if, Kurt wants to talk, Blaine knows he will. "Oh. Well, see you at lunch then?" Blaine asks when they stop in the foyer where the two usually part ways for their homeroom classes.
Kurt inhales, closing his eyes. When he opens them, his blue eyes are intensified with the sheen of water glistening over them. "Sure," he says quietly, shrugging one shoulder as he makes to turn down the hallway.
"Kurt," Blaine calls and Kurt stops, turning on his heel to face the shorter boy. Blaine's head is tilted slightly to the side and his eyes examine Kurt's face. It mustn't have been for longer than a second, but to Kurt it feels like an eternity. He looks away from Blaine's searching eyes, feeling self-conscious. "I hope—" Blaine stops himself, unsure of what to say but knowing that he needs to say something to let Kurt know that he cares. "I hope you feel better soon," he says with as much sincerity as he can muster, though he knows that it isn't the sentiment he was going for.
Kurt doesn't answer but instead just nods, his face unreadable as he turns back around to get to class. Blaine stands in the crowded hallway and watches him until Kurt turns a corner before hitching his backpack higher onto his shoulder and hurrying to his own class.
Throughout the first four periods of the day, Kurt doesn't pay much attention to what is going on in his classes. He takes a quiz in US history but doesn't remember any of the questions. He doesn't acknowledge the lamely-attempted joke his English teacher makes when he points out the Hummel family in their current assigned reading, Little Women. And the last two classes Kurt spends debating with himself over whether or not he can face Blaine at lunch.
In the end, Kurt decides to keep up his façade for as long as possible and heads toward the dining hall. When he arrives, he is half-grateful that Blaine hasn't arrived yet. He gets his food and takes his usual seat at their table by the window. Half-heartedly, he looks past the glass at the garden that makes this particular spot in the cafeteria so great. For a second all he can picture is his six-year-old self, clasping the hand of his father as they walk across the lawn. But he blinks and the image disappears.
When Blaine walks into the dining hall his eyes immediately search for Kurt and he gives a sigh of relief when he finds him in his usual place, looking out the window. He gets his food and walks over to the table where Kurt is still looking out the window, a pained expression on his face.
"How are you feeling?" Blaine asks as he takes the seat across from Kurt.
Kurt turns to look at him, "I'm fine." The words come out as a reflex, having used the phrase countless times in the past. Blaine starts to say something in response, but David cuts him off as he and Wes join them at the table.
"No, you're not. You look like you've seen a ghost," he says, immediately taking a bite out of his burger.
"No such thing," is all Kurt says, pointedly avoiding Blaine's gaze as he pushes around the food on his plate with his fork.
David looks at Blaine for an explanation, but all Blaine does is shrug and give Kurt a concerned look.
"Are you ready for Warblers practice tonight? We get new music, I heard," Wes says, trying to lighten the atmosphere that was clouding their table. He is unsuccessful, though, when Kurt sighs and drops his fork onto his plate with a clatter.
"I'm not going," he says, looking out the window again.
"What? Man, why not? You can't miss this one," David protests through a mouthful of fries.
Kurt gives him a disgusted look as he is about to reply but Blaine cuts him off, "He's obviously not feeling well, you guys. Let it go." Blaine throws Kurt a smile, showing him that he's on his side. But Kurt just looks back at him with a withering stare.
"I'm just tired and I would like to sleep," he says, his voice a little defensive. Blaine's smile falters, confused. Wes and David throw each other a look, mutually agreeing to not get any deeper into the matter before Kurt snaps.
Kurt saves them the trouble, though, when he stands up suddenly, grabbing his tray. "I guess I'll see you in class later, Blaine," is all he says before shouldering his messenger bag and striding away. Blaine looks on helplessly as he watches the boy breeze out of the hall.
"Something's up," Wes says but Blaine doesn't hear him. He gets up quickly, forgetting his food and running to the double doors. He skids to a stop in the hallway and looks both ways, but doesn't see Kurt.
"Dammit," he mutters to himself and he turns down the hall toward his next class even though he's about half an hour early.
The last class of the day, biology, is the one Blaine and Kurt have together. When Kurt walks into the lab, Blaine is already sitting behind the long black counter that they share, waiting for him with his hands clasped together in front of him. Kurt seriously considers turning around and skipping class all-together. Having Blaine around makes dealing with all of this that much harder. The boy has an uncanny ability to gauge Kurt's moods and his perfect understanding frustrates Kurt. Why can't he just leave him alone? Kurt stops his thought process there, though. Because he doesn't want that. But that doesn't stop him from feeling anxious as he takes his seat next to Blaine, who is still gazing curiously at him.
"Blaine, can you stop, please?" Kurt says, his voice breaking slightly at the last word.
Blaine looks genuinely taken aback, "What?"
"Just. I'm fine, okay?" Kurt huffs as he tugs his notebook out of his bag. Blaine's eyebrows knit together in a mixture of concern and frustration, but he does as Kurt asks and turns his attention to the board.
When Kurt looks up to do the same, however, he freezes. Written in the teacher's block handwriting, the words "MITOSIS LESSON 3: CANCER" glare at him. From the corner of his eye, Blaine sees that Kurt is staring at the white-board, his face colored with a heartbreaking expression. Kurt is shaking as he fights back the tears that are rising to the surface again.
"Kurt, what's going on? What's wrong?" Now Blaine knows for sure that something is up. He's seen Kurt in all forms of distress and he's helped him get through it, but this—this was different somehow. Blaine looks from Kurt's face to the board where their teacher is now explaining the lesson for the day.
"I can't—I can't do this," Kurt says, collecting his stuff hurriedly and rushing out of the classroom.
"Mr. Hummel! Where do you think you are going?" their teacher, Mr. Turner, calls after Kurt.
"Um, Mr. Turner, I don't think he's feeling very well. Permission to go check on him?" Blaine asks, poised on the edge of his seat and ready to run out.
Mr. Turner huffs, but waves his hand signaling permission, "Very well." Blaine is out of the door, ignoring the stares of all the other students. But when he gets into the hall, he can't find Kurt yet again. He decides to try the nurse's office, though he knows it is probably wishful thinking on his part.
Turns out that that is precisely what it is when the receptionist kindly tells an impatient Blaine that Kurt hadn't stopped by. Blaine checks all the restrooms he passes as well as an empty classroom or two with no luck.
Just as he is about to give up, Blaine reaches the library and decides to check in there, not really expecting anything. At first, when he walks into the lobby of Dalton's expansive library, he doesn't see him. Blaine figures he might as well search the stacks while he is there, unable to give up completely. He strides toward the back of the wing and halts when he sees Kurt's unmistakable profile out of the corner of his eye as he walks past one of the study corners.
Kurt is sitting in a plush tweed chair with the book Little Women in his lap, though he doesn't appear to be reading it. When Blaine gets closer, he can see Kurt's cheeks are stained with tears and for a moment he thinks that maybe he should let Kurt be. But something pulls him forward.
"Kurt?" Blaine says tentatively. Blaine knows how easily the switch from sadness to anger can flip with Kurt and the last thing he needs right now is to incite a fight between the two of them.
But Kurt looks up with anything but anger on his face. Blaine's breath hitches in his throat at the look of anguish Kurt wears. It seems that just the sight of Blaine sparks a renewed bout of sobs and Kurt's face pulls into a grimace as fresh tears roll down his face. Blaine immediately moves to place his hands on Kurt's shoulders, crouching next to the boy. Kurt buries his face in Blaine's shoulder without saying a word and for several minutes they stay this way, with Blaine whispering comforting non-sense words to Kurt as the boy shakes and heaves under his hold.
The other boys in the corner start to clear out quietly, throwing sideways glances in the pair's direction and Blaine looks up to see Thad staring at him questioningly. Blaine just blinks at him and Thad gets the hint, ushering any remaining loiterers out of the vicinity.
After a moment, Kurt's crying seems to subside and he pulls away from Blaine, wiping the tears off of his cheeks and brushing a hand through his hair, attempting to regain his composure. Blaine just watches, knowing that Kurt needs to take his time with whatever is going on. Blaine stands up to stretch his legs before taking his place again next to Kurt, his elbow on the armrest of the chair. Kurt is back to staring at the pages of the book and Blaine looks down as well. A piece of the literature has been underlined and Blaine leans a little closer to read it.
But Kurt starts reading it aloud, his voice raspy and cracking, "When morning came, for the first time in many months the fire was out, Jo's place was empty and the room was very still. But a bird sang blithely on a budding bough, close by, the snowdrops blossomed freshly at the window, and the spring sunshine streamed in like a benediction over the placid face upon the pillow-a face so full of painless peace that those who loved it best smiled though their tears, and thanked God that Beth was well at last." A single tear ran down Kurt's face and Blaine watched it slide over Kurt's trembling lips.
"Kurt, what is going on?" Blaine asks, looking at him curiously and thinking maybe Kurt needed prompting, to know that Blaine is there for a reason.
"Blaine, why are you here?" Kurt asks, seemingly picking up on Blaine's thoughts.
"Because I care about you, Kurt. You know that," Blaine says sincerely, every inch of his face colored with worry.
Kurt looks at him, a curious look on his face. "Blaine, can you do me a favor?"
The question is not what Blaine was expecting. But he answers smoothly, "Of course."
For a second, Blaine thinks he can see the corners of Kurt's lips turn up a little in a small smile but before he is sure, it's gone and Kurt's lips are set in a thin line. "Would you—Can you come with me to the cemetery today?"
Understanding floods through Blaine and his heart beats a little harder as he realizes why Kurt is asking. He looks into Kurt's eyes, searching but not sure for what. "Are you sure? I mean, this is something you should do with your father."
Kurt sniffs and rubs at his eyes before answering, "I did. Well, we did. This morning. Me, my dad, Carole, and Finn. That's why I missed breakfast."
Blaine is confused now, "Then why—"
"Because it wasn't the same. I couldn't—I couldn't cry with them there. I love Carole and I love Finn but it just—it felt—not wrong, but not right, either." Kurt's tone is heavy with guilt as he struggles with the words.
Blaine shakes his head, still not understanding, and he takes a breath to speak but Kurt cuts him off, "And I can't go alone."
Blaine's eyes flicker down at the open book and then back to Kurt, who looks at him with desperate eyes. Blaine sighs, unsure of what is appropriate in such a situation. But before he even knows what he is saying or why, he can feel himself nod once and say, "If that is what you want."
"It is. I mean, I would like that," Kurt says, wiping at his eyes again and closing the book. Blaine stands up and offers a hand to Kurt, who stares at it absently before reaching up to lace his fingers around Blaine's. When Kurt stands up, he releases Blaine's hand quickly and bends to pick up his bag, his eyes focused on a spot on the ground.
Blaine shifts his weight from one leg to the other and asks, "Do you want to go now?"
"Yes, please," Kurt responds as he wraps his black scarf around his neck, pulling it close to him. As they leave the library, he blurts out, "Can we make a quick stop beforehand?"
"Of course," Blaine says, leading the way out of the building. "Where to?"
"Just the grocery store, I guess," Kurt replies. "Flowers," he explains simply, when Blaine looks at him questioningly.
Blaine is the one who drives, since Kurt was dropped off at school by Carole in the morning after the first visit. After Kurt has visited the grocery store, they silently climb into Blaine's sand-colored Altima and when Blaine starts the car. As he pulls out of the parking lot, he watches Kurt carefully, who is clutching the bouquet his chest.
The Woodlawn Cemetery is located in the suburbs of Lima and the two ride in silence all the way there. Occasionally, Blaine glances quickly at Kurt, checking to see if the boy is okay. Each time he looks, he just sees Kurt staring determinedly forward, unblinking. When Blaine finally pulls into the drive that winds through the park, Kurt speaks, his voice quiet, "Can we walk?"
"Sure," Blaine says, putting the car into park. But instead of getting out of the car immediately, the pair sit awkwardly in the quiet, Kurt sniffing occasionally.
"Look, Kurt, I don't have to come with if you don't want to," Blaine says, looking at Kurt with soft eyes.
"No, no," Kurt says firmly. "I want you to come. This—this is something that is important to me. And," Kurt swallows thickly, "I want to share this with you."
Blaine tilts his head and nods. He considers patting Kurt on the arm, but thinks better of it and instead opens the car door to get out. When Kurt doesn't come out immediately, Blaine walks around the front of the vehicle and opens the door for him. Kurt squints up at Blaine, the sun shining softly between the clouds over him, and seems to realize the weight of the situation. He inhales deeply before breathing it all out in one gust as he gets out of the car.
"Which way?" Blaine asks, shoving his hands into the pockets of his pea coat. Kurt points in a general north-west direction and the two make their way through the cemetery. Blaine looks around curiously as they walk, admiring some of the more ornate headstones and peering at the older ones. But Kurt steps purposefully, looking at his feet as they move. He's done this so many times; he has everything about this place memorized.
After several minutes, Kurt stops. Blaine almost doesn't realize and has to backtrack to where Kurt is standing in front of a plain, but beautiful white marble headstone. In simple lettering Blaine could see that it reads,
Wife, Mother, Sister
August 17 1966 – April 8 1999
Love is the harmony of two soulssingingtogether.
He looks at Kurt and can see that the stiff set of his jaw is back as he fights back tears. Kurt kisses one of the petals of the flowers in his arms before placing them at the foot of the marker. Blaine is unsure of what to do or say, so he steps back a little to give Kurt space.
A few minutes later, Blaine can see Kurt's shoulders shaking as he begins to cry again. Blaine moves forward and places a hand on Kurt's back, rubbing slow circles into the material of his coat. Kurt attempts to reign in his tears and sniffs. "It's been twelve years," he says, and there's a note of disbelief in his voice. Blaine simply nods, staring at the name on the headstone. He doesn't want to force Kurt to say anything he isn't comfortable with.
But Kurt keeps talking. "I was six when she died, you know. Young enough to not understand entirely what was going on, but old enough to remember," his voice is flat and shakes a little.
Now Blaine is looking at him, the hand on Kurt's back stilled. He waits for Kurt to continue, but when he doesn't he breaks the silence, "How did she die?" Kurt looks at him for a long moment.
For a second Blaine thinks that maybe he's said something out of place and is about to retract his question when Kurt speaks. "Cancer," he says simply, the word sounds detached from the boy somehow.
"Oh, Kurt, I'm so sorry," is all Blaine can think to answer with. Because what are you supposed to say in these situations? He feels helpless and looks around nervously until Kurt responds.
"It's okay," he says, wiping a tear off of his cheek. And Blaine gets the feeling that this answer means it's also okay for him to ask questions.
"Why belladonna lilies?" he asks, looking at the flowers on the grass in front of them.
Kurt smiles a little. "Amaryllis. Like the little girl in The Music Man. It was her favorite musical."
"I would have thought it was The Sound of Music, given your namesake," Blaine offers, still unsure of what's okay in this conversation.
But Kurt smiles again, "That was a close second." He pauses momentarily before continuing, "My dad says that I'm so like my mother. She used to sing beautifully. I remember," Kurt chuckles and Blaine smiles at this, "she used to sing me to sleep. But I'd get so excited and wanted to sing along. We almost always ended up giving impromptu performances for my dad. I had a phase where all I wanted to do was sing We're Off to See the Wizard over and over. Dad went crazy. But mom… she understood." Kurt seems lost in his memories as he stares absently at the gravestone. Blaine can't help but smile, enjoying hearing about Kurt's childhood.
Somewhere above, birds were chirping and Kurt looks up, closing his eyes as he listens to the sound. Blaine does the same, allowing himself to relax a little now that Kurt isn't crying.
Kurt opens his eyes before Blaine and looks at him, contemplating the boy's expression. Kurt still isn't sure how they ended up here, but he's thankful for Blaine's presence. The boy radiates comfort and an endearing trust in the good of everything. Kurt wishes he had the same faith.
"Blaine, do you believe in God?" he asks suddenly, and Blaine's eyes fly open to look at him.
"I—I don't know," Blaine says, somewhat taken aback. "I mean, it's nice to think about, isn't it? God and heaven and angels…" Blaine trails off, not really sure what Kurt wants him to say; not really sure how to answer at all.
"I don't believe in God," Kurt says simply, staring intensely at his mother's headstone again. He thinks of the quote from Little Women; of how Beth was supposed to be in a better place. "Sometimes I wish I did. But I just can't bring myself to. Not with…" he leaves the sentence open-ended, instead gesturing widely at the expanse of the cemetery in front of them, hundreds of gravestones scattered across the beautiful park.
"I can understand that," Blaine says, and he shuffles his feet a little, nervously. He looks at Kurt and sees more tears falling down the boy's cheek. He takes a tentative step forward, fighting with himself about how to act. But when Kurt looks at him with those tear-swollen eyes Blaine can't help but pull him into a tight hug, putting his hand on the back of Kurt's neck and holding him in place.
"I miss her," Kurt sobs into Blaine's shoulder and Blaine wishes he could make the pain go away. Just then, the birds above take flight, chirping wildly and knocking the flowers budding on the branches of the tree, causing petals to fall around the pair of boys below. "I miss her so much, Blaine."
"I know, Kurt," he whispers into Kurt's ear as he watches the birds vanish into the clouds overhead. "I know you do," and he pulls him into an even tighter embrace.