January 1st announces itself in Ohio with trumpets and wolf whistles, brassy blasts of air that topple trees and sly flute-song that checkers the sky with clouds so that the sun winks at every suitor, be it flame or filament. By evening power lines twitch in gutters like electric eels or black veins uprooted and neighborhoods shudder with the hum of generators, resonant with the shivers of families without.
Kurt is still as a wax figure, and why not - there's wax to spare; the house is a chandler's dream, awash in restless light that fidgets with every exhale. The candles bleach his rounded edges and shade his creases charcoal, imply motion, and in canceling the illusion Blaine's brain overcompensates, dismisses the rise and fall of Kurt's chest as imaginary.
It is unsettling.
"I'm glad you're feeling better," Blaine says, leaning forward. The leather lounge chair groans as his weight shifts, a pathetic play for attention against the wails of squalls outside.
Kurt nods, or Blaine thinks he does - the damn candlelight. Blaine pulls a heavy quilt from the chair back behind him and stands, wrapping it around his shoulders. "I probably should have stopped you sooner, you just seemed like you were having so much fun." No response.
Blaine tries to remind himself that silence is an improvement, parentheses of repose, leagues better than the retching that punctuated the morning and early afternoon. He lowers himself delicately onto the couch beside Kurt, unable to dismiss the sense that he is glass waiting to be shattered, or all fog, poised to smear under heavy breaths.
It's an all-too-familiar feeling, one he's been battling for months, now, and he breathes in and out in a vain effort to force it down with his diaphragm: panicked fragility, hollow uncertainty, looming disconnection. It is melodramatic and unfounded, Blaine knows, sort of, or at least he tries to convince himself that that's what it is: an arsenal of paranoia unleashed against the shyest of doubts, stemming from a meaningless memory nailed too deeply to a corner of his skull.
"It's cold in here," Blaine says, lifting the tail of the blanket over Kurt's shoulders, a cell divided swallowing its partner again. Surrounded by fire Kurt nods, definitively, one hand perching on Blaine's knee, like a bird poised to sing - but what song?
A knuckled beak, finger feathers, poised.
Well - what song?
Sing it: August 27th, 2011. Virgo has silenced her alarm and taken her morning shower, stands naked in the morning twilight, and soon the shy leaves will blush away their green, but for now echoes of Leo's roar still frighten them chaste. Blaine doesn't give a shit about the celestial changing of the guard, of course, doesn't even know it's happening. He hardly remembers the bus ride (except maybe the heat; the goddamn heat; sweating drifters and stained business suits; the whole place leaking AC like a riven oxygen tank, everyone gasping swampy breaths, everyone; but it's alright, it's alright). That part's not important. What matters is the moment the mustachioed bus driver pulls the handle, when the plastic panes of the door fold in on themselves like origami, and he sees Kurt again for the first time (the universe can give him hell about oxymorons all it wants). Kurt! Kurt is a godsend; for all the fun Blaine's had working this summer, he craves something familiar, predictable, clean. He reaches out smiling arms curved like elephants' tusks and kisses Kurt on the lips (cool and clean) and brings his own head back like he's cocking a gun, and his eyes lock onto their target, Kurt's eyes, Kurt's eyes.
(The feeling isn't like a sound, but in his memory this is the spot where Blaine hears hammer hitting nail, planting the first crack, founding the first fault line.)
Kurt's eyes are looking at him like - it's hard to remember, hard to describe. It is as though Kurt is staring a word that has lost its meaning, a word experienced only as sound, isolated from any and all context; something distantly curious, something strange yet irksomely familiar. Like he has forgotten who Blaine is.
Panic, diluted but real, fills Blaine's stomach. He feels something prophetic in this moment, like he has broken a mirror; or maybe he is the broken mirror, and Kurt cannot discern his face in the shards.
Things get better again, of course, mere hours later. Easy, smooth, natural. The panic drains. But it leaves behind a lining, a caustic orange film, that is painted over during pleasant moments but never scrubbed away.
And not without reason. There are tense moments when Blaine finds Kurt unreadable, even paradoxical. On Halloween Blaine dresses as an Indian, the Cleveland variety, signed glove and all, but he strikes out, despite what he thinks is an obvious invitation to finally push beyond 3rd base. On Thanksgiving he offers a prayer for their college prospects and gets a dirty look where he expects an amen. And New Years - During Kurt's hundredth irate rant about Sam's disappearance, long fingers wrapped securely around a not-so-virgin Shirley Temple and Mercedes goading him on, Blaine adds a tiny comment of his own (benign, by comparison; something along the lines of "Yeah, what an asshole"). Boom: Kurt is an atom bomb, a tempest of blood and fire, cursing Blaine out and fumbling with his words. Blaine has never seen Kurt so angry. He tries tried to apologize in the morning; Kurt claims not to remember and rests his forehead against the bathroom wall.
So here we are. On January 1st with the power out Blaine wraps a blanket around Kurt's shoulders and feels Kurt's hand on his knee. For five months, he has been lost in Kurt's mockingbird call: affectionate melodies severed by sour caws, doves' coos that oscillate between peaceful and mourning, hawks' cries of passion stymied by imitations of car alarms and crickets' song. Lustful and coldly reticent, manically animated and statuesque.
Wind laughs against the windows. Blaine listens for the song in Kurt's touch, and hears nothing.
There is nothing to hear. Kurt has entered a silence, roped to the center of the widest octave ever known.