A little short, I know, but seemed like a good place to end it. Next chapter is when the demons are gonna hit the fan!

Bleeding Heart, Vanishing Soul

By Koinaka

Well in case you failed to notice,
In case you failed to see,
This is my heart bleeding before you,
This is me down on my knees, and...

These foolish games are tearing me apart,
And your thoughtless words are breaking my heart.
You're breaking my heart.
Foolish Games, Jewel

Kurt was met with warring impulses. Even though he had a million questions that he wanted to ask, he also wanted to throw his arms around his husband and cry with relief because he was okay, because he was there, so that was exactly what he did. He surged forward, causing Elijah to fuss in protest at being jostled, and pressed his lips against Jimmy's. Jimmy hesitated briefly before wrapping one of his arms around Kurt's waist and tangling the other in the soft hair at the nape of Kurt's neck. When they parted, Kurt leaned his forehead against Jimmy's, his breathing rough and unsteady. They stayed like that for several seconds until the implication of Jimmy standing there unharmed and seemingly healthy hit him—his dad had been right.

"You're alive," he said with a trembling voice as he moved away. "We thought you were dead—I thought you were dead."

Jimmy's eyes, bright with unshed tears, flitted from Kurt's face to Elijah before flitting back to Kurt. "I'm so sorry," he said. He moved as if to touch Elijah, but Elijah, wanting no part of that, burrowed closer to Kurt. Jimmy's hand dropped to his side and a pained look settled onto his face.

Kurt's first instinct was to comfort Jimmy, to tell him that Elijah was just wary of strangers, and even though Jimmy wasn't a stranger, not really, a year was a long time for a toddler, so he was a stranger now. Instead he said nothing. He just stared at his husband, studying every inch of his face. He looked the same, eerily the same, but there was something there that hadn't been there before. Kurt couldn't pinpoint exactly what it was, but he knew it was there.

"Can I come in?" Jimmy asked at last.

Kurt blinked. The house. Yes, they should go inside because it was awfully cold outside and Elijah was wearing only a diaper. Only…only Kurt wasn't sure that he should inviteJimmy into the house because how would Claire and Joshua react to seeing their missing father?

"Yes, of course," was what he said instead. "Just…give me a minute. I need to…" he trailed off ineffectively. He didn't wait for a response before ducking back into the house.

No sooner had he closed the door did Claire poke her head out from around the entrance of the kitchen. She looked immensely relieved to see him.

"Thank God, you're back, Dad," she said, moving into the living room with a struggling Joshua on her hip. "I turned my back for just one second and somehow Joshua managed to pull the entire cake off the counter. Luckily it didn't land on him, but it did land on Lucy and now she's covered in—what's wrong with you? Why are you crying?"

Kurt hadn't even realized he was crying until she pointed it out. He wiped his eyes and took a deep breath. "I need you to take your brothers upstairs and give them a bath. Can you do that for me? I'll clean up the mess in the kitchen. Don't worry about it."

Claire looked like she wanted nothing more than to protest, but she must have gathered that something was going on from the way Kurt looked because she just nodded, her blue eyes—the same color as Jimmy's—straying over to the front door for just a second before fixing back onto him. "Yeah, sure," she said.

Kurt transferred Elijah from his arms into Claire's and waited until the three of them were safely upstairs before turning back to the door.

"I'm sorry; it's kind of a mess tonight. Ashleigh's had the week off, and I have had rehearsals nearly every night, so…well, it's just been crazy," Kurt babbled nervously as Jimmy stepped into the house and directly onto a stuffed animal.

The living room was probably the cleanest room downstairs at the moment, but he didn't want Claire to stumble across them unaware, so they headed into the kitchen which was, as Claire had told him, covered in cake. At the epicenter of the mess was Lucy. The puppy was not only covered in cake, but attempting to eat her weight in cake as well. Kurt sighed and scooped her up, depositing the messy puppy into her kennel before turning back to Jimmy who was sitting at the table watching him intently.

A wave of exhaustion hit Kurt then and he sank down into the chair across from his husband. He had been struggling to do things on his own for so long and now, miraculously, Jimmy was back, but instead of being relieved by his return, Kurt was angry because where had he been for the last year?

"We've been looking for you for nearly a year," he said, never taking his eyes off of Jimmy lest he disappear again. "I was so sure that something terrible must have happened to you because the Jimmy I knew and loved would never just walk away from his family. My dad—he thought maybe you needed a break, but I never believed him because I was just so sure that you wouldn't have left me—us—if you could help it. I guess I was wrong. Did you ever once stop to think about me or the boys? About Claire? Do you have any idea what we've gone through this year thinking you were dead?"

Jimmy leaned over and wiped a tear drop off his cheek. "Please don't cry. God, I'm so sorry," he repeated once again. "I know I should have called, but I was in a psych clinic."

"A psych clinic," Kurt repeated skeptically. "Which one? Because I've been in contact with all of the clinics in Evanston, and a lot of the ones in Chicago, and none of them had ever heard of you or had any patients resembling you."

"I was at a clinic in Pontiac."

Pontiac was where Jimmy's parents lived. Kurt hadn't even thought of looking there because Jimmy hadn't talked to his parents in years, not since they had moved in together.

"I just…I wanted to get myself straight before seeing you, Kurt. I love you and Claire and the boys. You have to believe me. You're the most important things in my life, but I was so messed up. I was completely delusional. I thought that God had some big plan for me, that I was special, important, but I was wrong. Heaven, hell, none of that matters anymore. You and the kids are the only things that matter to me."

Kurt let out a harsh little sound that was a cross between a sob and a laugh because Jimmy had been messed up. It may have been a year ago, but he could remember it like it was yesterday. The strange things his husband had done, the things he had said about God's plan and Castiel the angel's plan for him. The doctor who had diagnosed Jimmy had been quick to tell Kurt that sometimes, when people developed schizophrenia, their delusions were based on religious beliefs, but from what Kurt knew there was no cure for schizophrenia. There were medications, yes, that could improve his quality of life and help him reach normalcy, but there was nothing that would just "fix" everything.

"And are you 'straight' now? Are you taking your medication? Did the clinic give you a referral to a doctor here?"

"Yes," he said, taking in a shaky breath and running a hand through his already disheveled hair. "I know that I can't undo what I've done, but I just…. I just want to come home."

Kurt wanted nothing more than for him to come home, but he had to think about the kids. They needed stability in their lives. He didn't want to let Jimmy back in only to have a repeat of the previous year. He had to know that Jimmy was going to make the effort.

"If…" Kurt started, his voice wavering slightly. He wiped the tears off his face and continued. "I want you to come home, Jimmy, but I have to know that you're going to do everything it takes to stay healthy, that you're going to take your medication, and do whatever your doctor tells you to do. I can't let you come back if you don't because I'm not sure if I would be able to go through what I've gone through this year again—all of the worrying, not knowing whether you were dead or alive, struggling to take care of three kids by myself. You have to promise me that if I let you come back, you'll do whatever it takes to stay."

"Of course," Jimmy said immediately, his voice low and fervent. "I'll do anything—whatever it takes—to prove to you that I'm serious about this. There is nowhere I would rather be than right here."

Kurt took a deep breath, his mind whirling. There was a part of him—that sound suspiciously like his father—that was screaming about what a huge mistake he was making, but the other part—the larger part—couldn't even fathom being apart from Jimmy now that he was back. "I—Okay," he said after a moment.

A bright smile spread across Jimmy's face as he leaned over the table and pulled Kurt into his arms. He buried his head into Kurt's neck, wetting his skin with his tears, and repeating, "I love you," over and over again.