There's no reason for it to be this hot outside. It's April and he should still be able to wear as many layers as he wants to without rebuke. Instead, the sun is beating down incessantly and he feels like a rotisserie chicken but he can't say anything, because the second he complains Blaine starts chattering about the ozone layer and sad polar bears drifting out to sea on ice floes and Kurt would call him out on it but he's so earnest and Kurt really wouldn't be surprised to see Blaine come through his door with a baby polar bear on a leash under the belief that saving just one of them is worth the property (and likely bodily) damage that housing a vicious wild animal would undoubtedly bring. And can they name him Barry because that seems like a good name for a polar bear.
So it's Saturday and they're sitting in his house and Kurt is strongly contemplating taking the food and the shelves out of the refrigerator and climbing in for the day, because maybe if he wasn't so unbelievably hot he could focus on something other than how tired his dad had looked this morning. He's been debating the pros and cons of ignoring his dad's orders to stay away from the garage for 20 minutes, staring out the window, cringing at how the glossy magazine pages slip beneath his sweaty fingers because he knows they'll pucker with the moisture. He can actually see the heat, the shimmering undulations that make everything look like a mirage, except no one would ever hallucinate Lima, Ohio, no matter what desert they were in, and hey, maybe he's in the desert and this godforsaken heat wave is actually an illusion.
But it's not. Lima is unfortunately very real, as is its ignorance and plainness and heatwave. It is as real as the boy next to him. Who has been watching him with all the subtlety of a neon sign for the past 20 minutes.
Blaine, who is so steadily solid and so very there that Kurt has started marking time in "Before Blaine" and "After Blaine" because he can't quite remember how he made it through anything before he knew Blaine was there, on the other end of the phone or across the table or next to him on the couch. Meeting Blaine was like waking up from a nightmare, like that moment you bolt upright in bed and realize you're not running frantically toward nothing on the dark, empty, echoing pavement; you're safe and you're warm and you're home.
"Hey," Blaine's voice interrupts his thoughts. "C'mere." And he's about to point out that if they sit closer together, it's going to be even more uncomfortably hot, but the familiar pressure of Blaine's hand curled around his arm saps the sarcasm from his tongue.
"Take your shirt off," he says in a low voice that is definitely not the voice Kurt's used to hearing with such a request, but it doesn't stop him from reacting. At Blaine's assurance that he's not up to anything, he shrugs and pulls his shirt off, wondering when he got so comfortable with himself that he's perfectly willing to sit shirtless in front of this beautiful boy, who is teasing him about rug burn and ignoring the fact that he must be sweating as Blaine's hands trace across his back.
It was only in the interest of not further upsetting his dad that he hadn't absolutely blown up when he found out about the long hours, the unnecessary strain. McKinley had been the clear, and only, option, and it was hard to be back breathing the same air as Karofsky and to be away from Blaine, but he can take the stress. Burt cannot. It's not until he feels Blaine's hands pressing his shoulders down that he realizes how tense he is, notices the physical signs of stress.
But of course Blaine noticed. Because Blaine, it seems, notices everything. Every tightening of his eyes, every hitch of his breath as he tracks his dad's movements, watching for a heavier gait, signs of labored breathing.
He'd gone through this alone, the last time. Before there was Blaine and before there was the absolute certainty of Carole (because even when you love someone, sickness can take its toll and she was definitely not under any obligation to take care of him - of either of them - and Kurt wouldn't have been surprised if she'd opted out) he'd sat in the hospital wondering. Wondering if his dad was going to wake up, what it meant if he didn't, what happened to 16 year olds in cases like this and if there was a shot in hell that his dad had any sort of organized file of important papers. He'd felt the eyes on him, Ms. Pillsbury's well-intentioned inefficacy, Mr. Schuester's desperation, his friends' fumbling attempts at comfort. Like running frantically toward nothing on dark, empty, echoing pavement, unsure if the noises are whisperers hidden from view or a trick of the blood rushing in your ears.
It's different, now. Blaine doesn't say anything, doesn't pry further than "how is everything?" and "how are you feeling?" because he doesn't need to, he can read all of the answers on Kurt's face anyway. He just stays close, with open eyes and a knowing smile and a hand around his waist, on his shoulder, interlaced with his own, all warm, gentle pressure that tethers him to the ground, anchors him into this new reality where he doesn't have to handle everything on his own. And he watches.
It had taken Kurt a while to get used to, this new heat of eyes always on him. He was used to be stared at, could taste the bitter flavors of confusion and loathing and judgment on his tongue like a snake, but not like this. Not with the sweet notes of interest and affection and...not love, but surely one of its markers. Because they're 16 and while it's true that they're each other's first boyfriend, Kurt is pretty sure he'd feel this way about Blaine if he was the first or tenth man to pay attention to him, and he wants to hope Blaine feels the same way. He doesn't want to say love, because it's only been a month, and no matter how many times he's accidentally let the words tumble off his lips in the past month, the last thing he needs is to overshoot and end up a stage 5 clinger, because he's not sure what he would do if Blaine left.
He takes a long, deep breath, pushing the thought from his mind and checks back into reality when he feels the familiar mouth, the lips he has spent hours committing to memory, press against his shoulder, and even though he can't see he knows that Blaine is once again admiring the freckle he'd "discovered" one afternoon last week and now reveres like a religious icon. He's smiling when he hears the words, feels them vibrate right through his skin, through his back, and station themselves around his heart like armor, so much stronger than his old weaponry, the sharp looks he's always relied on.
"I love you."
He reaches back with a shaky hand and tries to turn at the same time, managing a hand on Blaine's hair, a vaguely cross-eyed stare, and a watery smile as he struggles to find his voice.
"Love you, too."
And he wonders if Blaine knows that's what he's been thinking about. But of course Blaine knows. Blaine, it seems, knows everything.