Note: This is the last chapter (I think!). I hope that the decisions Kurt and Blaine make in this chapter feel true to their characters, for the situation. Enjoy.
Blaine feels sick.
Kurt can tell just by the look on his face. He leans across the table in the restaurant and grasps Blaine's hand. "We don't have to stay here. Let's get some to-go boxes and head home."
Blaine closes his eyes and sighs. "Okay."
It actually makes Kurt a little nervous that he agrees so quickly. It means that he feels bad enough to not even keep up a facade.
With some not so subtle waving and a decent tip on Kurt's part, they get out of the restaurant quickly. Kurt carries their dinner in one hand and with the other, finds Blaine's hand and squeezes it. "Do you want me to go get my car?" It's only a few blocks back to Blaine's apartment, but Kurt is trying to gauge just how he's feeling.
"No." Blaine takes a deep breath of the cool, night air. "This is helping."
Kurt nods. Nausea, then. He's been having a lot of it lately. Blaine keeps saying it's just the medication he's on, but Kurt's worry is a huge, ugly, controlling beast that continues to swell.
"Come on." Blaine tugs at Kurt's hand and starts walking. "I got West Side Story out from the library today and I want to start it before Quinn comes home or she'll have a fit about missing Grey's Anatomy or Ellen or something."
Kurt smirks. "I think I could handle some West Side Story." He leans further into Blaine's shoulder, thinking about snuggling up on Blaine's couch/bed. "You know, I don't think I've ever spent so much time in someone's bed so early on in a relationship."
Blaine laughs. "It's not my fault my bed is in the middle of the apartment."
"Why did Quinn get the bedroom anyway? And why didn't you just get a two bedroom?"
Blaine shrugs, swinging their hands a little bit between them. "She's a girl. She has a lot of girly stuff and she needs more privacy, I guess. It just made sense at the time. This was what we could afford, so we made it work."
Kurt knows that he could never survive in Blaine's living arrangement. He loves having his own apartment and having all of his things right where they belong. "Don't you ever just want your own space?"
"Sure, but sometimes it's nice to have people around too." Blaine looks sad for a moment and Kurt knows that the 'when you're sick' is there, but unspoken. He can relate. He still goes home whenever he's sick. There's something about laying on the couch in his dad's cozy, little living room that instantly makes him feel better.
Kurt tugs at Blaine's hand, trying to make him smile again. "So...just what kind of people do you have 'around' in your bed?" he asks with a wink.
"Oh, you know...vagrants...street walkers...whoever."
"Not a picky man, are you?"
"I'm thinking of changing my ways." Blaine grins at Kurt slyly. Kurt's heart flutters.
"And just how might you do that?"
"Well, I'd-" Blaine stops.
Kurt frowns at him. "What?"
Blaine drops Kurt's hand, staggers a few steps over to some bushes and promptly loses his dinner. Kurt cringes. He moves just close enough to rub Blaine's back until he finishes.
Luckily, they're just a few doors down from the apartment. Once they make it inside, Kurt sits Blaine down on his bed and gets him some water from the kitchen. He waits while Blaine takes a few, cautious sips. "Better?"
Blaine swallows thickly. "A little."
Kurt sits beside him and rubs his back in slow circles. "You want to lay down?"
"Yeah, but don't you want to watch the movie?"
"No, it's fine. I'd rather just listen to some music. Unless you really want to watch it."
"No." Blaine is already curling over into the blankets, an arm around his stomach.
Kurt stands up to turn on the radio, turning the volume down low, and then slipping off his shoes. He crawls onto the bed beside Blaine, reaching out to run his fingers through his hair.
Blaine sighs and closes his eyes. "You know, Kurt, I'm starting to think there's something wrong with you."
Kurt laughs in surprise. "What?"
"Well, here I am, an average looking guy. I fall asleep on you all the time, I have pretty regular meltdowns, there's zero privacy in my home, and now I vomit at the end of our dates..."
"All of that means there's something wrong with me?"
"Yeah." Blaine looks up at Kurt, eyes searching. "'Cause you still don't leave."
Kurt frowns. He's not sure what Blaine's trying to do. "Is this a test?"
"No. Just an observation."
"I stay because I care about you."
"I care about you, too. It's just probably a lot easier for me."
"I thought we were over this."
"Completely over my self-worth issues? No, that's probably going to take awhile." Blaine shifts uncomfortably and rubs at his stomach.
"Well, I'm going to be here awhile so take all the time you need," Kurt says as firmly as he can.
"Hey, maybe we could work on your issues for once?"
"I do not have issues," Kurt says defensively, but Blaine gives him a knowing look. Kurt scowls. "Shut up."
"I love you." Blaine reaches for Kurt with one hand.
"I love you, too."
"I'm going to be sick."
"Oh, come on."
"No, really." Blaine rolls up off the bed and hurries to the bathroom. He kicks the door closed, but Kurt can hear him retching through the thin walls.
He sits up slowly and grabs Blaine's glass of water from the table. At the bathroom door, he knocks gently.
"Just a minute," Blaine calls.
Kurt waits. He knows Blaine hates for people to see him like this, but it's still so hard to stand there and hear him in such obvious distress and not just go to him. Kurt sighs and leans against the wall. He's still there a minute later when Quinn walks in the door.
"Hey." She frowns at him in confusion. "What are you doing?"
Kurt gives the bathroom door a long look, before coming over to Quinn in the kitchen. "He's sick again," he whispers.
The change in Quinn's face is drastic and Kurt almost regrets saying anything. She covers her mouth and is quiet for a long moment. When she looks up, Kurt almost takes a step back from the fierce look in her eyes. "He has a doctor appointment tomorrow. I'm calling off work and going with him."
She steps past Kurt and goes right over to the bathroom door. She doesn't even stop to knock, she just opens the door and slides in, pulling it closed behind her. Apparently, Quinn ignores all of Blaine's little rules about who can see him how and when. Maybe that's what happens when you live with someone for almost ten years. Kurt can't help but feel a little jealous, but at the same time, he's just glad Blaine isn't alone.
Kurt sits down at the kitchen table. That old, familiar anxiety is creeping back into his skin. He's paralyzed. Someone he cares about is sick and Kurt is absolutely terrified of losing anyone and anything, anymore. Not for the first time, he thinks that maybe he can't do this, maybe he needs to walk away.
Then, the bathroom door opens and Quinn helps Blaine out to his bed. Blaine still looks pretty green, but when he catches Kurt's eye, he flashes a huge smile, just for him.
Watching this man, beautiful even in sickness, Kurt knows the truth. Walking away was never an option.
Kurt has to work at the clinic the next day. He knows that Blaine's doctor appointment is at noon, and every moment after that that his phone doesn't ring, Kurt grows more anxious.
Santana wanders in and out of the office, nudging Kurt with her hip every time she passes. It's during one of her visits, late in the afternoon, that Blaine walks through the clinic doors.
"Hey!" Santana yells before Kurt can say anything. "I thought I told you I never wanted to see your ugly face back here again." Despite her words, she's hurrying around the desk and opening her arms to Blaine. "How are you, baby?"
Blaine hugs her carefully and shrugs. "Been better...been worse, too."
Kurt hovers behind Santana, trying to hold back from shoving her out of the way to grab at Blaine. Santana seems to get the message, as she quickly ducks out of the room. "I'll leave you boys alone, work to do and all that. Take care, baby Blaine."
Kurt leads Blaine by the hand over to one of the couches in the waiting room. "What did the doctor say?"
Blaine leans forward and wraps his arms around Kurt, breathing heavily onto his shoulder. "I love you."
"I love you, too." Kurt rubs Blaine's back in slow circles and when Blaine makes no effort to pull away, Kurt turns his head to kiss his neck. "Tell me what happened."
Blaine takes a deep breath and sits back, still holding onto Kurt's arms. He won't look Kurt in the eye and Kurt feels his heart trip up. "Blaine, please. You're scaring me."
Blaine doesn't look up from his lap. He speaks in a slow, quiet voice. "I've been sick because my kidneys are failing again."
There's no word for the way Kurt's stomach drops to his toes. He physically shivers, hands jittering around Blaine's arms. "Well, what does that mean? Dialysis again?"
Blaine shakes his head, taking a thin breath. "Maybe for a little while, but they want to do another surgery. Something about a graft to fix the damage from before."
"That would fix it?" Kurt whispers, barely able to breathe. He wishes he were a doctor, so he could understand all of this better, or better still, go in and fix Blaine himself.
Blaine just shrugs. He pulls his hands away from Kurt and covers his face. "I hate this."
"I know. I'm so sorry." Kurt reaches out and bundles Blaine against his chest. He manages to stand them up and shepherd Blaine to a chair behind the desk. Kurt closes the little office window by his desk and prays that no one comes in. He sits down next to Blaine and takes hold of his hands again, looking him in the eye. "You're going to be okay."
Blaine shakes his head. "You don't know that."
"I believe it." Kurt shakes Blaine's hands a little, willing him to believe it, too. Kurt has waited too long for love to lose it like this, now. His heart breaks a little when Blaine's face crumbles and he curls in on himself, voice shaking.
"I'm just so tired of being sick. I just want it to be over."
"Don't think like that. Maybe this is the end. The surgery will make you good as new."
Blaine laughs a little hysterically through his tears. "That's what they said last time and then they just...cut me up."
Kurt is trying desperately not to cry. He knows it's the last thing Blaine needs, but he can't physically control the way his chin quivers. He takes a deep breath and wraps his arms around Blaine again, gathering strength that he can feed right back to him. "I love you and I will not let that happen. We're going to get through this. Do you hear me?" Blaine nods against his chest, quieting down as Kurt strokes his hair. "I've got you."
The office door creaks open and Santana sneaks in and silently places a glass of juice and some cookies on the desk. Kurt shoots her a thankful look over Blaine's shoulder and she nods solemnly before slipping back out of the room.
Blaine starts to sit up a little and Kurt rubs his arms slowly. He reaches over to offer Blaine the juice. "How's Quinn?"
Blaine sips at the juice slowly. "She's Quinn. Tough. She didn't say much." He sets the glass down and looks Kurt in the eye. "How are you?"
Blaine nods. "I know this is a lot and it's not-"
"Really?" Kurt scoffs. "Are you kidding? You are asking me if I'm okay? I'm fine. I'm ready. I'm good."
"Thank you." Blaine leans forward, eyes closed and just catches Kurt's lips with his own when there's a tapping on the window glass.
Kurt jumps, forgetting he's at work. He reaches up and slides the window open. Kurt smiles at the elderly man standing there. "Hi Mr. Franklin."
"Hello, Kurt." The man's glossy, grayish eyes move over the two of them. "And Blaine. Nice to see you again, son. I hope you're not here for treatment."
"No, sir," Blaine answers, sitting up straight, all smiles and politeness with a man he used to share the treatment room with. "Just visiting."
"That's what I wanted to hear." Mr. Franklin signs in quickly and then heads back to the treatment room. Kurt slides the window closed again.
Blaine sighs shakily. "What time do you get off?"
"Not for another two hours...but you can stay here if you want."
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah. Santana won't mind. It'll be just like old times." Kurt tries for a smile. He hopes it looks more genuine than it feels.
"Right. The good old days." Blaine rubs at his face.
Kurt takes his hands and brings them close to kiss his knuckles. "Hey, listen. I can't promise you that everything will be okay, but I can promise that I will be here no matter what."
"Thank you," Blaine whispers. "I love you."
"Now, if you're going to hang around here, you'd better make yourself useful." Kurt finds a stack of reports on his desk and hands them to Blaine. "Alphabetize, please."
"Wow." Blaine takes the papers and wipes at his face one more time. "Do I get paid for this?"
Kurt shrugs coyly. "Maybe later."
Blaine smirks at that and dutifully begins sorting the papers. Kurt turns back to his work with a grin.
Make Blaine smile. Mission accomplished.
That evening, as soon as Kurt drops Blaine off after work, he pulls out his cell phone. He may have put on a good, optimistic front for Blaine, but inside, he's freaking out, and there's only one person that can really make him feel better in situations like this.
The phone only rings twice before his father answers. At the sound of his voice, Kurt instantly feels at least half of his stress drain away. "Dad? I hope you're not busy. I'm coming over for dinner."
Within an hour, Kurt is sitting at home, at the kitchen table with his dad. They're halfway through dinner when Kurt can't stand holding it in anymore and blurts out Blaine's bad news.
"Oh, Kurt..." Burt sets down his fork and swallows his food thickly. He stands up and comes around the table to hug his son.
Kurt sighs, leaning into his father's arms.
"I'm sure everything will work out, buddy. These doctors know what they're doing these days." He taps his chest. "I've got proof of that."
Kurt pats his dad's arm and the man sits back down. "Thanks, dad. It's just that, the first surgery Blaine had didn't turn out so well. I think that the surgeon was too aggressive and there was too much damage. That's when all of his kidney failure problems started."
Burt looks thoughtful. "Well, what would have happened if they hadn't been so aggressive? What if they'd left some of the growths there?"
Kurt considers it, tapping his fingers on the table. "I guess that would have been bad, too."
Burt nods easily. "See? Trust the doctors. Blaine will be fine."
Kurt pushes his plate away and ignores his father's pointed look at the half-eaten portion left on his plate. He's too worked up to eat anymore. "I was trying to tell him that today, that everything would be fine and it was like, he just wouldn't believe me."
"Maybe because you don't believe it."
"Touche." Kurt raises his eyebrows.
"Anyway, I mean, I've only met the kid...what, twice?"
Kurt rolls his eyes. "It's been more than twice, Dad."
"Oh, right. Three times." Burt chuckles at Kurt's exasperation. "But, it seems to me like he's had a pretty rough go of it. And it seems to me that if things are rough enough for long enough, a person starts to believe that's how it's always going to be."
"So, what do I do about that?"
"Nothing. You can't expect to change the way a person thinks. You should know that firsthand, Kurt."
"Look, all you can do is be there for him." Burt shrugs.
"I know. It just doesn't seem like enough." Kurt picks at his napkin, worrying it down to tiny wrinkled bits.
Burt clears his throat. "What's concerning me right now, is you."
Kurt looks up, startled. "What?"
"Are you doing okay with this?"
"Of course I am. I'm not the one with organ failure."
Burt fixes Kurt with a steady gaze, the same look that could make Kurt confess any lie when he was ten years old. "You know what I mean."
Kurt slouches in his chair, folding up under Burt's eyes. "I'm fine, dad. I'm just worried."
"Kurt, you've already had to deal with a lot of sickness in your life, and I know that Blaine feels like the world to you right now, but don't be afraid to get some perspective, okay? You don't owe it to this kid to hold his hand and nurse him to health."
Kurt literally feels his jaw drop. "Dad, I'm not going to dump him because he's in less than perfect health."
Burt raises his hands in surrender. "I know. I know. But, I also know how you get. You go into Florence Nightingale mode and forget about taking care of yourself. I mean, all I'm saying is maybe you need to take a close look at your feelings and figure out how much is genuine and how much is that little bleeding heart inside of you looking for someone to take care of."
"Dad." Kurt is getting a little angry now. He knows his dad means well, but to insinuate that Kurt is some irrational mother-hen is a bit much. "I care about Blaine. I love him." Kurt claps his mouth shut. He didn't mean to say that, not to his dad, not about Blaine, not yet.
Burt leans back in his chair. "Wow. Really?"
Burt rubs at the stubble on his jaw. Kurt watches him, waiting for a response. He hadn't meant to confess everything over spaghetti, but that's pretty much how visits with his dad usually go.
"Listen," Burt says. "My concern is always you first. I've seen you two together and I get it, okay? I do. I just don't want you to lose yourself in all of this."
"I won't, dad. I promise."
"And you'll come talk to me whenever you need to."
"Alright, then. That settles it. I'm happy for you, Kurt. I really am." Burt stands up and carries their plates over to the sink. "Now, there's a game on and I know you don't want to miss a minute."
"Oh...yay." Kurt waves his hands in the air in fake excitement.
Burt laughs and slings an arm over his shoulders on their way to the living room.
When Kurt thinks of his mother, there is always one image that comes to mind. He's eight years old and his mother is wearing a long blue sundress. She's leaning over him, smiling, her dirty blonde hair hanging over their faces like a shield. It's one moment, one freeze-frame image that defines her entirely in his mind.
The night before Blaine's surgery, Kurt totally loses it. One minute, he, Blaine, and Quinn are sitting on a bench outside of the apartment building, laughing over Tank chasing his tail around on the sidewalk. The next minute, Kurt looks over at Blaine and its like time stops. He sees Blaine beside him, frozen, head back, mouth open, eyes scrunched up in laughter. His hair looks black in the muzzy light of the street lamps, his skin fairer than ever, like a black and white photo.
This right here, Kurt realizes, this freeze-frame image is the moment he will always remember when Blaine is gone.
Everything fuzzes out around Kurt. He can't hear anything. He's stopped laughing.
The world tilts and Kurt puts his head down on his knees, grabs tight to the bench beneath him and holds on.
"Kurt?" Blaine's hand runs over his back. "Hey. Are you okay?"
Kurt is afraid to even shake his head, the dizziness is swamping his brain so badly.
"Kurt?" Quinn has gotten up and knelt down in front of him. He can feel her hands on his knees. "I think he's having a panic attack."
"Oh, Kurt." Blaine leans over him, arms and chest bracing Kurt's back, covering him in warmth. "You're okay. Just breathe."
Kurt focuses on his voice, eyes closed, he tunes out everything else and just listens to Blaine ramble on and on.
"You're fine. I'm right here. Deep breaths. Everything is okay."
Slowly, the dizziness recedes and Kurt takes a deep breath without feeling like he's choking. Carefully, he sits up.
Blaine adjusts himself so that he has one arm around Kurt's back and is holding his hand with the other. "Better?"
Kurt breathes deeply again and reaches up to rub at his face. His fingers are wet. "Was I crying?"
"I think so." Blaine leans the extra inch closer and kisses his cheek. "It's okay."
Kurt looks around. The world feels surreal, like a dream. The sidewalk is deserted. "Where's Quinn?"
"She took Tank up to the apartment. She thought you might want some privacy."
Kurt sits back and leans into Blaine's arm. He wipes his face off again, the emotional weight of what just happened beginning to hit him. "I think I just imploded."
Blaine chuckles. "Really?"
"Uh-huh. I feel weird." Kurt can't stop touching his face, rubbing at his eyes. Normally, he avoids contaminating his skin with finger oils at any cost, but now, feeling the evidence of his tears is the only way he knows this is still real.
Blaine shifts into worried mode. "Weird how?"
Kurt struggles for words to explain. "Like this is a dream. Like I'm acting. Like the world is spinning too fast and I'm trying really hard to hold on but it's all just slipping away from me. I'm trying, oh God." He gasps, pressing his fingers to his lips. "I'm trying but you're just slipping away from me."
"Kurt, I'm not going anywhere," Blaine says in a slow, steady voice.
"But you are. Don't you see? I just found you and now you're going away." The craziness of his words isn't lost on Kurt, but he can't help it. It's what he feels and he gave up long ago trying to control how he feels. The words are spewing out of him from some deep, dark, uncorked place within him and he thinks, yes, he's finally, absolutely lost it.
"Kurt, look at me," Blaine says.
Kurt does, fingers in a fist at his mouth, terror thrumming through him at the simple idea of continuing to be alive.
"I love you. You love me."
"Tomorrow," Kurt gasps.
Blaine nods. "Tomorrow I will have surgery to fix my broken parts and when its over, I will still love you and you will still love me."
Kurt can't understand how Blaine can be so calm about this. He remembers a time when Blaine mentioned finding his peace, but he can't imagine finding peace anywhere in this terrifying world, where little boys lose their mothers, kids lose their homes, and people's inside parts just stop working. "Aren't you scared?"
Blaine takes a deep breath before answering. "No."
"I believe the doctors know what they're doing and that the surgery will work."
"And if it doesn't?"
"And if it doesn't, I'll still be okay, because I'll have met you."
That sounds too much like a good-bye. Kurt shakes his head fiercely. "Don't do that."
Blaine grips Kurt's hand tighter. "Please, listen. I need to say this. I want you to know everything so you won't make things up in your head and worry about it later."
Kurt takes a deep breath. The street is becoming clearer around him. He can listen. "Okay."
"The truth is, that meeting you made my life complete. If something goes badly tomorrow, I won't be scared, because I know that I haven't missed out on a single thing in this life. I met you and I loved."
Kurt closes his eyes. He holds tight to Blaine's hand, taking in his words. It's so Blaine to find this zen-like calm in the eye of the storm. Kurt doesn't have anything else to say now. It's all been said. He turns into Blaine and wraps his arms around him, holding on to just a little bit of that calm for himself.
Blaine's surgery is at eight in the morning. It's a long operation and then there's time in the recovery room and added together it means that Kurt doesn't get to see him until after dinner that night.
He and Quinn walk in to the hospital room together, holding hands. Blaine is lying on the bed, pale and tense, eyes closed. Kurt lets go of Quinn and grabs onto the bedrail, his heart thudding painfully in his chest. He's terrified, for Blaine, and for himself. He reaches out and brushes his fingers along Blaine's hand, as gently as possible.
Blaine squints his eyes open. "Hey." He sounds like he's gargled gravel.
Quinn leans over the other side of the bed. She combs her fingers through Blaine's bangs. "Are you hurting?"
Kurt looks up at her, startled. Apparently, she's picking up on something he isn't. And she's right.
Blaine doesn't answer her directly, but he shifts on the bed and tenses up. His breath, already a little rough, becomes a shallow pant of air. "I...yeah."
Kurt meets Quinn's eyes over the bed. He's afraid that he looks just as panicked as she does. This isn't what he'd expected.
Quinn squeezes Blaine's hand before moving quickly out of the room. "I'm going to get a nurse."
When she's gone, Kurt leans close over Blaine and kisses his forehead. Blaine is still breathing in short, pained huffs. Kurt rubs his arm gently, anxiously. "It's okay. You're okay."
Blaine tries to shift again and closes his eyes tightly. "I didn't feel like this before." He barely speaks in a whisper.
"They'll give you something. Just hold on." Kurt hunches over the bed and takes Blaine's hand in a tight grip. Time slows down and mocks them, ticking by in the anxious, strained huffs of air Blaine breathes. Kurt closes his eyes and tries to breathe, too. He'd been so worried about whether or not the surgery would be successful, he'd barely thought about this, the aftermath and the recovery.
Quinn hurries back in, followed by a harried looking nurse. The nurse doesn't say anything to them, but looks over the IV and oxygen lines. She walks around the bed, pulls Blaine's arm out from the covers and sloppily wraps a blood pressure cuff around it.
Kurt watches her with a frown. He can't quite figure out just what this lady is doing and why his boyfriend's pain isn't her number one priority. Blaine tugs on his hand, unable to even lay still. That's all Kurt can take.
"Excuse me?" He says in his sweetest voice. "Are you a nurse?"
The woman looks startled, pausing in her fumbling with the blood pressure cuff. "Of course."
"He's in pain."
"We're working on it."
"It doesn't look like it." Kurt feels Blaine tug on his hand again, this time trying to get him to cool off. Quinn steps up right at his shoulder though, and Kurt knows she has his back in this one-hundred percent.
The nurse simply frowns at them and goes back to her work with a disgruntled look on her face.
Kurt can't believe it and won't stand it. He lets go of Blaine and turns around, marches out to the hall and right to the nurses station. He surveys the handful of nurses and aides there, and locks in on the first one that looks like a decent human being. "Excuse me?"
The nurse looks up from her paperwork. "Yes?" She even smiles.
Kurt reads her name tag. "Hi Carol. You look like you're good at your job. My boyfriend just had surgery and is having more pain than I think is necessary or normal. Can you please come?"
Carol stands up immediately, looking worried. "Of course. Which room?"
Kurt leads her back to the room, immediately stepping up to Blaine's side. He wants to take his hand again, but Blaine is covering his face with his hand now and trying hard to control his breathing. Kurt literally feels a pain in his chest at the sight.
The first nurse is just tucking Blaine's arm back under the covers. Carol steps up next to her. "What was it?"
"I couldn't get a read on this arm."
Carol nods. "Okay. I'll take it from here. I think there's some call lights on down the hall."
Bad nurse, as Kurt dubs her in his head, turns on her heel and stomps out of the room. Kurt watches Carol move around the room, an example of efficiency. She injects something into the IV line and actually takes a blood pressure reading with minimal fuss.
She rubs Blaine's arm gently. "You should start feeling better in a few minutes. Try and take a deep breath with me." She waits until Blaine makes eye contact and then takes an exaggerated deep breath, waiting for Blaine to do the same.
Kurt finds himself breathing along with them, and with each deep breath, some of the anxiety leaves his body.
"Okay." Carol nods and straightens. "Better?"
Blaine nods slightly. He relaxes further into the pillow.
Carol smiles. "I'll be back in a little while to check on you." She leaves the room quietly.
Kurt hurries after her to the hallway. "Thank you."
Nurse Carol just smiles softly at him. "You don't have to thank me. I'm just doing my job."
Kurt shakes his head, because what he just saw was a superhero like maneuver. This woman not only made her patient feel better as quickly as possible, but also comforted everyone in the room, just by being there. Kurt would give her a hug if he didn't think it would be a little too much. "Not everyone does their job like you do. Thank you."
Carol nods in understanding. "You're welcome. You're a good boyfriend. It isn't easy to..." She shakes her head. "It just isn't easy sometimes. I get the feeling you might understand that."
"I guess so."
Carol reaches out and rubs his arm comfortingly. "It will get better."
Kurt didn't realize how much stress he was carrying until her four simple words nearly break him. This time, he doesn't hold back. He holds out his arms and the nurse hugs him tight as if he were her own child.
After a moment, she pats his back and pulls away. "You better get back in there."
"Of course." Kurt nods. "Thank you, again. Really, I-"
Carol cuts him off by holding a finger up to her lips. She points at Blaine's room.
Kurt grins and waves at her and does just as he's told.
Back in the room, Quinn has taken a seat beside the bed, elbow on the bed, head on her fist. Blaine has drifted off, finally able to relax and rest. Kurt takes the other chair, holding onto Blaine's hand. He's not as asleep as Kurt had thought, because when Kurt squeezes his hand, Blaine squeezes back, meeting strength with strength. Kurt knows, right there in that second, that Blaine will be okay. He has too much life in him to be beaten down yet and Kurt can't wait to find that life, together.
Blaine comes home quickly. Too fast, in Kurt's opinion. He has trouble doing just about anything and only moves from the couch a few times a day to shuffle to the bathroom like an arthritic old man.
The hospital sends a nurse over to change Blaine's bandages and generally check up on him. Kurt runs into her during one of her visits and finds that he instantly likes her.
This nurse is a very tall woman with curly hair and bright, blue eyes. She's quick and efficient and if it were necessary, Kurt thinks she could probably scoop Blaine up and sprint him all the way to the hospital.
She asks Blaine to call her Nurse Beiste.
Kurt sits patiently at the kitchen table, watching her work from across the room.
Nurse Beiste talks softly the entire time she works, going over the latest football and baseball stats and directing Blaine with gentle commands of "Turn this way, baby." and "Almost done, honey." It's almost magical, the sense of calm she radiates. Kurt saw it first at the hospital with Carol and now, here. He's realizing what an incredible skill it is to do this work and to do it well.
By the time Beiste is done and helping Blaine sit up against the pillow, Kurt has made up his mind. He wants to be a magical person, too.
He shows the nurse out and then hurries back over to Blaine. "Hey."
Blaine smiles from his nest of pillows and holds his hands out to Kurt. "Hey."
Kurt sits cross-legged on the bed and takes both of Blaine's hands in his. "So, I've been thinking."
Blaine nods. "About...?"
"Going back to school."
If Blaine is surprised, he doesn't show it. "For what?"
Kurt grips Blaine's hands tighter. He doesn't know how off the wall this is going to sound. "I want to be a nurse." He looks up and meets Blaine's stare.
"Are you serious?"
Kurt nods, biting his lip.
Blaine laughs, a happy burst of noise. "Kurt, I think that's great. You would be the best nurse. I mean, I can speak from personal experience even. I could be a reference."
"You really think so?"
"I know it," Blaine answers immediately, without hesitation. "You're compassionate and gentle and so, so strong."
Kurt leans forward and kisses Blaine just like that, gentle and strong.
After a minute, Blaine is smiling too hard to keep up. He pulls away with a chuckle.
Kurt grins at him. "What?"
"My very own murse."
Kurt groans. "It is too early for you to be making fun of me. Plus, that is so old."
"Aw, just let me get it out, then I'll be done."
"Yeah, right. You're never done." Kurt leans forward again, trailing his fingers over Blaine's face.
"Can you get something for me?" Blaine asks, suddenly serious.
Blaine gestures to the dresser on the other side of the room. "In the back of the bottom drawer, there's a cigar box."
Kurt finds it easily enough and comes back to sit beside Blaine. Blaine takes the box gently, running bruised hands over it's edges. "You know that my boss at the coffee shop said I could come back whenever?"
"Yeah, you told me before. That's awesome."
"Especially since I only worked there for a few months."
"You must have made quite an impression."
Blaine shrugs. "All of my checks went to Quinn for bills. She's been handling all of that."
Kurt frowns, trying to follow Blaine's thoughts. "I know. She...you told me that, too."
"Well, I was saving my tips for something special." The cigar box is taped shut, and when Blaine runs his thumbnail along the first strip of tape, the box pops open, stacks of money bursting out of it.
Kurt's jaw drops. "Blaine, you realize we have these things called banks now and there's no need to keep your life savings in a coffee can under the bed."
Blaine lowers his head. "I wanted to take you to New York." His voice cracks and he closes the box again, quickly, holding it shut with his thumbs.
"Oh." For once, Kurt is without real words. "Oh, Blaine."
Blaine passes the box over to Kurt's lap. "It's a little more than four-hundred dollars, the last I counted. You should use it for school."
"For school? I...no, no way." Kurt shakes his head fiercely.
"Kurt, please. You've done so much for me."
Kurt holds the box tight and squares his shoulders. "I will not use this for school because we are going to use it to go to New York City for the single best trip of our lives."
Blaine looks up, stunned.
"I can figure out school," Kurt continues. "My dad will probably whip out the checkbook as soon as I mention it and if not, there's always scholarships and I have some savings, too."
"But, nothing. You saved this money for one reason and that's what we'll use it for." Kurt leans over to kiss Blaine's nose. "No more arguments."
Blaine still doesn't look happy. He gestures at himself. "We might have to put the trip on hold for a while."
"That'll just give me time to get school set up before we go, then when we get back I can start right away." Kurt sits up on his knees, suddenly feeling electrified with plans. For the first time in a while, he has real, serious, concrete hope for the future.
Blaine is just looking down at his lap though, pulling at a loose string in the sheet. "You're not...I don't know, disappointed?"
Kurt's jaw drops for the second time in as many minutes. "Disa...what? Are you kidding me? In what?"
"You're making all these plans and have all these things you want to do and I'm still just here." He gestures around the room. "Stupid, sick Blaine. I can't even walk to the bathroom on my own, let alone hold a job or go to school."
Kurt has to resist the urge to cover his ears, he wants so badly to not hear what Blaine is saying. He realizes that Blaine had made his New York plans before he'd gotten sick again and that he'd given up on them entirely since. Kurt reaches out and places his hand along Blaine's jaw, running his thumb over his cheek. "Honey, no. No way. I'm everything but disappointed. I'm inspired. You inspire me."
Blaine shakes his head. "Kurt..."
"Seriously. I never would have figured all of this out without you. They're not my plans. They're ours. This is our life. Together."
Blaine leans back into his pillows with a sigh. When he looks up, he smiles, slow and gentle. "I love you."
Kurt snuggles in beside him, pulling up the blankets and holding onto as much of Blaine as he can. "Not nearly as much as I love you."
The recovery is slow. Kurt doesn't mind spending time laying around with Blaine, watching movies, listening to music, and making plans, but he absolutely hates seeing Blaine aching or in pain. It's also a little weird to see Blaine, who was usually so well put together even when he wasn't feeling well, in pajamas and t-shirts day after day.
The doctors have been tight-lipped so far about how the grafts are working, but when Blaine has an appointment with Dr. Sylvester, Kurt jumps at the chance to go with him. He knows the tall, blonde doctor will tell them all the blunt facts, good or bad.
Kurt gets to the apartment to pick Blaine up early in the afternoon. It takes awhile for him to get to the door, but when he does, Kurt laughs in surprise.
"What?" Blaine smiles. He's wearing trousers, a cardigan, a bow tie, what looks like one of Quinn's hats, and...a cane.
"I'm sorry." Kurt covers his mouth with his finger tips. He eyes the cane. "Was your old man impression not complete?"
Blaine twirls the cane a little in the air. "It kind of goes, doesn't it?"
Kurt nods in delight.
Blaine shrugs and leans on the cane. "Nurse Beiste gave it to me. It takes the weight off...you know." He gestures somewhere around his middle.
"Useful and adorable." Kurt nods. "I approve."
"Pretty sad when the thing that I get dressed up for in life is a doctor appointment." Blaine smiles ruefully and shuffles past Kurt out the door. He turns, snags the door handle with the cane and pulls it shut.
Kurt raises an eyebrow.
Blaine ducks his head. "I might have been practicing a little."
"You are enjoying that thing way too much." Kurt moves around him, ready to lend a hand or an elbow, or whatever Blaine might need as they walk down the hall. But, he sees pretty quickly how much the cane helps. By shifting his body weight up to his shoulders and arms, it lets Blaine move with much less pain. Still, Kurt doesn't know any other twenty-five year olds that use canes. He hopes its super temporary.
At the doctor's office, Kurt tries hard to hold in all of his questions as he follows Blaine around. They make the usual rounds to the exam room, to the lab, to the office, and back to the waiting room.
Blaine sits in his chair, fingers drumming a slow beat on his knee. He's taken his hat off and hung it on the cane, propped against his leg. For once, Kurt isn't comforted by his calm. In fact, he finds it pretty infuriating.
"How can you just sit there?" he finally bursts.
Blaine blinks like Kurt snapped him out of a daydream. "What?"
"How can you be so calm? This is it, isn't it? What do you think Doctor Sylvester's going to say? Aren't you worried?"
"Of course, I am."
"Well, what...what?" Kurt gestures at him wildly. "What are you doing then?"
"I'm...waiting? What do you want me to do? Get up and pace?" He taps the cane with two fingers.
Kurt lets out a heavy breath. "Yes. No. I don't know. I just don't see how you can be so calm right now."
"I've been here before," Blaine says simply. "It's going to be good news or bad news. I hope its good this time."
Blaine shrugs. "I guess so. If you really want to know, the truth is that I didn't feel this bad after the first surgery and we both know how that turned out. I don't remember hurting so much or being so tired. So, if I had to guess what Sylvester might say..." He lets the thought hang. They can both fill in the blank.
Kurt flops back in his chair with a huff. He splays his hand out, palm up, over his knee.
Blaine grasps it tight without missing a beat. "Really, I'm just thinking about New York. Would you rather see Chinatown or Little Italy? 'Cause I don't think we'll have time for both."
Kurt doesn't even look at him. "Do not joke with me right now."
Blaine huffs out a laugh under his breath.
"Blaine Anderson?" The nurse's voice rings out over the waiting room. It takes a minute, Kurt moving at Blaine's speed, but they're up, back in an exam room and sitting across from Dr. Sylvester soon enough.
She looks very serious as she shuffles through some papers. She puts on her reading glasses, pulls out one page and reads over it quietly.
Kurt clears his throat.
The doctor glances up at him over her glasses. "You in a hurry, Porcelain?"
"Oh. Me? No...no, I-we are just really eager to hear what you have to say."
"Well sit down, Beaver. Here we go."
Kurt doesn't have anywhere to sit, but he slouches further against the side of the exam table where Blaine is perched.
Doctor Sylvester sets down her papers and takes off her glasses. "87%."
Kurt has to clap both hands over his mouth to hold in his yell.
"Anemia has improved, acidosis improved, ketones improved, yadda, yadda, yadda...need I go on?"
The doctor gives Blaine a warning that he is still healing and needs to take it slow. Then, she tells them to get out.
They don't need to be told twice. They hurry out of the office and down to the street.
Kurt feels like he's walking on air, all his limbs made of cotton candy. "It really worked. You're really better. We're going to go to New York. I'm going to school. You can do anything you want, Blaine. Anything. Blaine?"
They're already in the car before Kurt realizes Blaine is too quiet. He looks over and Blaine is in the passenger seat, head down, breathing wetly into his palms.
"Oh, God. What's wrong?"
Blaine just shakes his head.
Kurt yanks his seatbelt off in a frenzy and wiggles himself into the space between their seats. "Talk to me."
"I can't believe it."
"Do you want me to call Quinn?"
Blaine shakes his head again. He takes a deep breath and sits up to face Kurt. "I just don't know how I got here."
Kurt frowns, not understanding.
"I just...all this time, I never really thought I'd get better. I never thought I'd really be happy. I pretended I'd made peace with all of this but it wasn't real. I just, I gave in. I surrendered." Blaine tries to smile, but instead he sobs and covers his face again. "And now here I am and I don't know how I got here. I'm happy."
"Blaine..." Kurt leans further forward to wrap his arms around him. "You're the only person I know that's calm when things are bad and crying when they're good."
Blaine laughs and cries again. He's burrowed so far into Kurt, that his hat has fallen off his head onto the car floor.
"You deserve to be happy. Don't ever forget that." Kurt rubs his back until he's calms enough to sit up. "Are you hungry?"
Blaine nods, pulling a handkerchief out of his pocket to wipe off his face.
"I'm going to take you to dinner, then. You can call Quinn on the way."
Kurt smiles slyly. "Breadstix, for our second first date."
Blaine glances up, surprised. Then, he grins. "I promise not to fall asleep this time."
"I promise not to be upset if you do."
Blaine scoops his hat off the floor and flips it back onto his head. "Well, that's good actually, because I did miss my two o'clock nap."
"And your three o'clock nap and your four o'clock nap and..."
"You're sounding a little upset already."
Kurt winks as he starts the car. "I guess I missed my nap, too."
"Hey, promise me something."
Kurt glances over at Blaine's sudden, serious tone. "Sure. What?"
"When we go to New York, I want to be doing something other than sleeping in a bed with you."
Kurt loses sight of the road in front of him for a moment. He grips the wheel hard and swallows thickly. "I think...I think that could be arranged."
Blaine quirks an eyebrow at him. "Promise?"
Kurt doesn't need words to reply. He holds his hand out to Blaine in a fist, pinkie extended. Blaine hooks Kurt's finger with his own and pulls his hand close to kiss his knuckles.
It's a short drive to Breadstix and when they get there, Kurt takes a moment to stand in the parking lot. He watches Blaine climb out of the car, cane in his fist, phone cradled in his shoulder as he talks excitedly to Quinn.
The sun is setting, but it still feels hot on the back of Kurt's neck. He closes his eyes and smiles.
This is the beginning of their story.
Further Note: Santana is a nurse! Beiste is a nurse! Carol's a nurse! Kurt (will be) a nurse! Give me twenty more chapters and I'll put Karofsky in a pair of scrubs. Seriously, I can't write a whole chapter where they're just happy and no drama, but if I had to write a fifth chapter it would be all about the trip to New York City. They'd elope or at least get engaged there, go to Broadway, Times Square, yadda, yadda, yadda ;) Happy Ending! Hope you enjoyed reading as much as I did writing!