Yay, I finished! :) Thanks to everyone who has read and commented. And also a huge thank you to the lovely Vanessa for betaing. You've all made my first foray into Glee fic-writing much less scary. :p The final lyric here is from Iris - fitting since that was the GGD song that inspired the lyric quoting in the first place. Oh, and for the record, because I know some people can be a bit sensitive; at no point am I Kurt-bashing - for the most part I don't blame one more than the other, but well, this is Kurt's POV.
I know that you feel me somehow
March 23rd 2027
It's a weird day, there is no other way to describe it.
All morning Kurt is unusually jittery and absent-minded, and when he leaves his apartment to make his way across town to an important audition, he almost forgets his keys and on the subway he literally has one foot on the wrong train before he realizes his mistake.
Kurt shakes his head at himself before getting on the correct train on the opposite platform. He doesn't get nervous before an audition. There is always a healthy amount of nerves, yes, but these just serve to psych him up and get him in the right head-space to deliver in the moment. He has never been in the habit of working himself into a frenzy the way Rachel tends to, so he honestly doesn't know what to make of his mood this morning.
Kurt finds himself an empty seat and sits, stifling a sudden yawn as he does. Why am I tired? he wonders vaguely as the train sets into motion. He shouldn't be tired. He slept fine last night. So why... Kurt is unable to suppress the next yawn, and as his eyes begin to droop and his previous restlessness floats away with the rumbling motion of the train, Kurt finds himself nodding off.
Kurt is nineteen and he buzzes his boyfriend into his apartment. Their apartment. Moments later the elevator dings and Blaine emerges, arms loaded with bags, heaving and panting but with a huge grin on his face.
'Just think, that's the last time I'm ever going to be buzzing you in,' Kurt muses, taking one of Blaine's bags and helping his boyfriend inside. He drops the bag on the floor and from his pocket he produces a key attached to a simple silver key-chain engraved with the letters B.A. He dangles it in front of Blaine's face. 'I had a pair made.'
'I see.' Blaine fakes an air of politeness and takes the key from Kurt, regarding it fondly for a moment, before slipping his finger through the key-chain, letting it dangle there. 'And if I lock myself out?' he queries, his voice low and his hands settling on Kurt's waist, pulling him closer.
'Well, tough.' Kurt pokes the tip of Blaine's nose playfully and Blaine wriggles his nose in response. 'I have done my last buzzing for you, mister.'
'So you're just going to leave me out in the cold to die of hunger and hypothermia?' Blaine pouts, feigning hurt. 'You wound me.'
Kurt laughs. 'Okay, I'll let Rachel buzz you in, then.'
'Deal,' Blaine grins before pulling Kurt into a tight, warm hug. This whole year has felt like one long wait, and now that it's finally, finally, finally over Kurt smiles into his boyfriend's neck, breathing in the feeling of safety and home, and when he exhales he feels lighter and freer than he has for a year.
Kurt is twenty-three and he is being walked home by his blind date – the one Kurt had felt bad about saying no to, their mutual friend describing the guy as kind of lonely. They come to a halt in front of his apartment building, standing a foot apart and looking at each other for a long moment. The other man swings his arms awkwardly at his side.
'Thanks. I had fun tonight,' Kurt says because he did, and the guy is nice enough, and there is no sense in making him feel bad. He smiles politely. Kurt leans forward going for a brief hug goodbye, and his eyes widen when instead of a pair of arms around his neck, he feels a pair of lips on his own. For a moment or two he just stands there, too surprised to form any kind of reaction. Hate-kissing and girls notwithstanding, Blaine is the only person to have kissed him before this moment, and for a second Kurt allows curiosity to overcome him, and he lets himself feel what this other person is like. However, an undeniable feeling of wrong washes over him instantly, and he pulls away before he can even entertain the notion of kissing back.
Kurt is eighteen and sitting in Emma Pillsbury's office. Blaine is next to him, looking at him with big sad eyes.
'I promise, you aren't gonna lose me,' he tells Blaine, and somehow, in a way he can't quite explain, the words feel significant far beyond this moment.
Kurt starts awake when the train comes to a halt. Starts awake? Wait, was he sleeping? On the train? What is it with him today? Kurt discreetly checks the area around his mouth for drool, because that would be just his luck; getting caught by paparazzi sleeping and drooling on the New York subway, but thankfully he finds no stray saliva and the train seems devoid of people with cameras.
I was dreaming though, wasn't I?
Kurt frowns to himself and his hand finds its way into his coat pocket of its own accord, and he absent-mindedly runs his fingers across something there.
He pulls his keys from his pocket and picks out the old silver key-chain from the bunch. He runs a finger across the scratched surface and the almost faded engraving – K.H. – and he suddenly finds himself wondering where its twin is.
No, not just dreaming – remembering.
Or – being reminded?
The train slows down as it approaches Kurt's stop, and he pushes the thought away with a small shake of his head, before he rises from his seat. This is not the time to let anything – least of all that – distract him. However, he reaches the place of his audition almost twenty minutes early, and the girl at the desk informs him that unfortunately they are already ten minutes behind schedule, which leaves Kurt sitting in a room full of nervous auditionees for thirty minutes with nothing to do but let his mind drift.
From Kurt to Blaine, 19.50:
Sorry, I cant do skype tonight. Crazy busy. Stupid project. :( Call you before bed?
Kurt heaved a deep sigh before pressing send and putting his phone down on the table in front of him. Around him his three project partners were in the middle of a heated discussion, and in the few moments he had taken to text Blaine, Kurt had lost the thread completely. He yawned at the prospect of at least two more hours of this. Not that it wasn't great and interesting. It was just … a lot. A moment later his phone buzzed with a reply from Blaine.
From Blaine to Kurt, 19.51:
Ok... I miss seeing you though. :'( Talk later then. xx
Kurt winced guiltily as he read Blaine's text. This was the third time in a month that Kurt had had to cancel one of their scheduled Skype sessions because of school or work commitments. As much as he loved New York and the opportunities afforded to him here, he wished – not for the first time – that he wasn't doing it without Blaine. Kurt had of course known from the start that, with Blaine a grade below him, this was how it had to be, but it had taken actually getting to New York and settling into his life for him to realize just how much he would miss having Blaine here. It wasn't just that he missed the simple presence of Blaine (though he did, god did he ever). It was that New York was amazing and big and new and exciting, and he wanted so much to experience all that with Blaine. He wanted to share an apartment and a bedroom with Blaine. He wanted them to meet for lunch in the middle of the day and to go to Broadway shows together at night. He wanted to cook them dinner in their apartment and tell each other about their day as they ate, and he wanted to end each day snuggled up in bed together.
'You okay?' Charlie, who was one of Kurt's project partners, asked him as they were walking home a few hours later. 'You seemed kind of out of it tonight.'
'Ugh, I'm so sorry.' Kurt sighed, annoyed with himself for letting his frustrations affect his school work now. 'It's just boyfriend stuff. Long-distance is turning out to be a lot more difficult than I expected.'
'He's still in high school, your boyfriend?' Charlie asked and, when Kurt hummed his affirmation, he looked thoughtful for a moment before he continued. 'I had a girlfriend back in Indiana. We ended up breaking up before I left though. Wasn't easy, but it was for the best, you know?'
Kurt gave his friend a long, hard look, almost knocking over a little old lady, because he wasn't paying attention to where he was walking. What was Charlie trying to say?
'Look, long-distance pretty much sucks,' Charlie sympathized. 'I haven't done it myself, but I've seen enough relationships fall apart that I know well enough, and... I'm not blind, Kurt. I see that it's hard for you. Both of you presumably. Maybe... it's time you call it a day?'
Kurt stopped dead in his tracks and a few paces later so did Charlie, who turned to look at Kurt, appearing not at all surprised at the reaction his words had gotten him.
Kurt took a few moments to swallow and digest Charlie's suggestion. When he responded he spoke slowly in a clear, forced calm voice. 'Listen, I am not breaking up with- with the love my life, because he happens to be a year younger than me. That's ridiculous.'
'The love of your life? Charlie questioned, skepticism evident. 'Kurt, that's very sweet, but you're nineteen. You have your whole life ahead of you. I'd hate for you to miss out on it because you're busy hanging on to your past.'
'Blaine may be my past, but he is also my future, so no, I'm not "hanging on" to anything,' Kurt spat, not really sure why he was getting so annoyed except that this discussion was a far cry from the support he might have hoped for.
'Okay, okay. I'm sorry.' Charlie raised his hands in surrender. 'It's none of my business and I'm sure you love him. I just thought it might be better to break it off now, rather than a year down the line. I mean, it's not really that realistic for high school couples to stick together forever, is it?'
'You know, three years ago I probably would have agreed with you, but...' Kurt's lips curled into a smile as he thought back. 'When I first joined my high school's show choir, we were a bunch of loser wannabes and we probably weren't even that good. Last year we won Nationals. My dad? Two years ago he had a heart attack and we thought he might die. Now he's entering his second year as a US congressman. And me, I used to get tossed in dumpsters on a daily basis and called every dirty name in the book. And now I'm here. As for Blaine, he was the random stranger I stopped on a staircase in a school where I wasn't even supposed to be. So as far as I'm concerned? Screw "realistic".'
'Kurt Hummel?' Kurt starts out of his daydream – at least he wasn't sleeping this time – and looks up at the woman who called his name. 'They're ready for you now.'
Kurt does his best to appear composed as he gets to his feet and follows the woman's directions down a bare hall and through the door at the end, thanking her as he goes. In the audition room he is met by five people, sitting side by side behind a long table.
'Let's see... Kurt Hummel?' the older man in the middle, who Kurt recognizes as his potential director, looks up from his notes and surveys Kurt for a moment. 'We meet again.'
'Indeed we do,' Kurt quips forcing his business slash audition persona to emerge. 'I just hope you're not sick of me.'
'I wouldn't worry about that if I were you.' He sends Kurt a short smile, before returning his gaze to the sheet of paper in front of him. 'Now, since I last saw you, you've been rather busy, I see.'
The director goes through Kurt's list of credentials with something akin to awe, and Kurt should be paying attention and lapping up the praise, but his mind starts to wander until he zones out completely and is no longer hearing what goes on in the room. Well, he hears it, of course – and he somehow manages to maintain his side of the conversation, contributing with the odd murmur of assent or 'That's right' – but he isn't really listening, and in the coming days if someone were to ask him, he wouldn't be able to quote a single thing from the conversation.
From Blaine to Kurt, 15.46:
How soon can you meet me on skype?
From Kurt to Blaine, 15.53:
An hour maybe? Just finishing up.
From Blaine to Kurt, 15.54:
Okay, I'll wait.
From Kurt to Blaine, 16.15:
Did something happen?
From Blaine to Kurt, 16.17:
You could say that.
From Kurt to Blaine, 16.24:
What is it? Is it bad?
From Blaine to Kurt, 16:25:
I hope not.
From Kurt to Blaine, 16.31:
Okay, youre freaking me out now.
From Blaine to Kurt, 16.33:
Dont worry. Just hurry.
From Kurt to Blaine, 16.45:
Okay, nearly home.
Once inside the door, Kurt kicked his shoes off in a hurry and shrugged off his coat in his room, throwing it on the bed, while his computer loaded. He settled himself on the bed with the computer in his lap and made quick work of logging into his Skype account. When he called Blaine up, it only rang for a few seconds before a connection was established and Blaine's anxious face appeared on Kurt's screen.
'Hey, I'm here now,' Kurt panted, still a little out of breath having practically run the distance between the subway station and the apartment. 'What is it?'
Blaine bit his lip and reached for something on his desk, before holding it up in front of the camera. It was a large plain white envelope.
'I got the letter,' he breathed. 'From NYU.'
'Oh my god, why didn't you say?' Kurt chastised and sat up a little straighter. 'Did you get in?'
'I don't know. I haven't opened it. I wanted us to find out together.' Blaine spoke quietly. 'This is it, Kurt. Our future. I don't get in here, I'm going to Pennsylvania instead.'
'There's still Columbia,' Kurt supplied hopefully.
'I didn't get into Columbia,' Blaine confessed evenly, a sad smile on his face. 'I got the letter last week-'
'Blaine, why didn't you tell me?' Kurt interjected, hurt that his boyfriend would neglect to tell him this.
'I'm sorry, I didn't want to upset you for nothing,' Blaine replied, his tone apologetic. 'And we always knew Columbia was a long shot. It was always going to be NYU.'
'I know, I know. It's okay. Can we open the letter now?'
'Sure.' Blaine worried his lip again and made to open the letter, but stopped short. 'Kurt? If I don't get in-'
'You'll get in, Blaine,' Kurt was quick to say. 'Of course you will.'
'But if I don't? We'll still- I mean, we won't-'
'Of course,' Kurt said warmly and Blaine looked relieved that he didn't have to explain further. 'Pennsylvania is closer than Ohio, right? We'll make it work,' Kurt assured his boyfriend, but his heart hammered painfully in his chest and his palms were sticky with sweat. In reality he didn't know how he would feel at the prospect of another three or four years in a long-distance relationship. But he wouldn't need to think about that. Blaine was getting in, no question.
Kurt watched as Blaine carefully tore open the envelope and pulled out its contents. Blaine met Kurt's gaze on the screen, swallowed once and began reading. Kurt watched Blaine's eyes scan the page, the seconds passing by agonizingly slowly, and he watched for any change, any hint, in his boyfriend's expression, but Blaine's face remained impassive.
'Well,' Blaine began, looking up, his poker face in full force. However, the moment his eyes fell on Kurt, who was watching anxiously brow creased in worry, Blaine's resolve crumbled and his face split into a huge grin. 'I got in!'
'Oh my god, you jerk! You nearly gave me a heart attack,' Kurt howled at the screen, but he was laughing in joy and relief. Finally. Finally they knew for sure, and in just a few short months Blaine would be here with Kurt. Not just visiting, but here – living here with Kurt, sharing an apartment, sharing a bedroom. With that in mind, Kurt thought these last few months apart might be a whole lot easier to bear than the last seven had been.
'Anyway, I think I've talked long enough. Mr. Hummel, the floor is yours.'
Kurt snaps out of it just in time to register these words, but it takes a few seconds for their meaning to sink in. Right; audition. He is supposed to sing now. Singing what? Panic rises in him when he realizes that he has completely forgotten which song he meant to sing. The seconds tick by as he just stands there, staring wide-eyed at the five people watching him expectantly. He cannot blow this audition.
'Kurt?' the lady on the far right – Kurt thinks she's a producer – addresses him softly. 'Take a deep breath, hon.'
Kurt does as told and surprisingly it helps. 'Okay, okay,' he breathes as the oxygen clears his head, and then at once he has his song. It isn't the one he practiced and it's old and somewhat obscure these days, and Kurt isn't even sure he knows all the words, but though he is unable to comprehend, let alone explain, why, he knows this is the song he needs to sing.
If roses are meant to be red
Kurt begins the song softly, almost uncertainly, and barely has he made it through the first line before an image flashes through his mind.
A staircase. So far away. Such a long time ago. A bouquet of yellow and red roses. The boy he loves with a smile spreading on his face. 'These are to celebrate. You.'
And violets to be blue
Why isn't my heart meant for you?
A school even further away. Even longer ago. A table covered with sequins and rhinestones and small pieces of jewelry. A nervous boy and his words, still echoing so many years later. 'Oh, there you are. I've been looking for you forever.'
My hands longing to touch you
But I can barely breathe
Starry eyes that make me melt
Right in front of me
An empty auditorium. Soft lips against his. Hazel eyes shining with emotion. 'You take my breath away. And not just now. Tonight on that stage, I was so proud to be with you.'
Lost in this world
I even get lost in this song
And when the lights go down
That is where I'll be found
A dull ache is forming in Kurt's chest as the images keep coming in a steady stream with one common theme. The happiness is painful from this angle and Kurt is vaguely aware of wishing it would stop. Or – realizing that it's probably related – that he could make himself stop singing. However, stronger than that is the almost primal need to continue, like he's going through a dark tunnel to find out what is on the other side.
This music's irresistible
Your voice makes my skin crawl
Kurt's voice is stronger and surer as he continues and he braces himself, but is still unprepared for the next flash that hits him.
Hands covering his on a table. A boy more open than ever. 'I'm crazy about you.'
Innocent and pure
I guess you've heard it all before
A boy. The same boy. Always the same boy. Insecure and a little frightened-looking. The most beautiful he has ever been. 'I want everyone here to know just how proud I am of my brave, handsome, bushy-haired boyfriend.'
Will this ever change?
One thing that remains the same
You're still a picture in a frame
A sea of blazers and a song that finishes. A hug so tight it hurts. A farewell he refuses to acknowledge. 'I'm never saying goodbye to you.'
Lost in this world
I even get lost in this song
Earnest eyes, that he fell in love with such a long time ago, and a boy in a bow-tie. 'I can't stand to be apart from the person I love.'
And when the lights go down
That is where I'll be found
A dark school hallway and a boy. Still that boy. Both of them dressed in formal wear. Forgotten tears drying on his own face. 'They can't touch us, or what we have.'
I get lost in this world
I get lost in your eyes
Shining eyes piercing his so intensely. Saying everything, rendering words almost unnecessary. A voice shaking with emotion.'You are the love of my life.'
And when the lights go down
A boy. Just that boy. Only him. His world. 'I promise, you aren't going to lose me.'
Am I the only one?
Kurt finishes the song and opens his eyes – though he doesn't remember the moment he closed them – finding all five people behind the table staring at him, two of them slack-jawed. A moment or two of stunned silence passes.
'I'm just gonna say it, because I know we're all thinking it,' the director declares. 'Best we've seen so far.'
Murmurs of assent break out around him, but Kurt hears their excited buzzing as if through a glass wall and his mind is everywhere but with the people watching him in awe and admiration.
'I have to go to Ohio,' Kurt announces to everyone's surprise – including his own.
'Okay.' The director looks utterly perplexed and Kurt doesn't blame him. 'Do you maybe want to read for us first?'
'No. I'm sorry, I really have to go. I need to, uh... visit my brother.'
With that Kurt turns on the spot, and without a second glance back he strides out of the room and down the hall where he came from, finally bursting through the front door and out onto the street.
Kurt hung up the phone and sat for a full minute staring open-mouthed at it as though it had just performed some kind of miracle.
He hadn't expected anything to come of it. He had thought he could do well enough on stage, but TV? That was a whole other game. Honestly, he had been so grateful just to get the audition, then pleasantly surprised when the producers had seemed to like him. When he had found out that he got a callback, he had spent ten minutes in a mild state of shock. And now they actually wanted him? It hardly seemed real. As Kurt called Blaine to give him the good news, there was a faint buzzing in his ears and he barely registered what either of them were saying, he was so lost in shock and joy.
The first dampener to his joy came that evening over dinner as Max brought up the topic of Kurt and Blaine's impending long-distance relationship. Kurt tried to talk to Blaine about it later in private, but Blaine brushed it off like he had at dinner, referring to their previous experience four years earlier.
When Kurt thought back to that year he had spent in New York without Blaine, however, he wasn't able to brush it off as easily, and he wondered how Blaine could. Kurt spent the following week in a state of perpetual worry, feeling constantly on edge. When he wasn't busy making plans for his future in LA, he would spend hours by himself desperately searching for the least painful solution and debating back and forth in his mind about what to do.
There were times of brief hopefulness when he would convince himself that they – that he – could do it again, it was only a year after all. But then he would recall that year and the daily struggle to get through the most mundane situations. Shopping for groceries on a Saturday afternoon shouldn't have been so difficult, except he would see couples everywhere and then remember that normal couples often did this sort of thing together, and he and Blaine couldn't. Everywhere he had gone, people had seemed to be holding hands, and after one grueling experience he had stopped going to the movies altogether. All year there had been a pervading feeling of isolation and disconnect from the world around him as he had been unable to fully partake in and enjoy his surroundings. It hadn't been all day, every day – but every day without fail something would remind him of what he couldn't have, and though he could have been fine three seconds earlier, going merrily about his business, a sudden sense loss and frustration would always overwhelm him for a minute.
All that went through Kurt's mind as he continued the debate in his head and it made him doubt that he would ever be able to go through with another long-distance relationship. And he would remember, too, the fact that they had no way of knowing the opportunities Blaine would even be afforded after college. If the thought of another year apart made Kurt uneasy, the thought of an indefinite number of years apart literally made his stomach hurt.
He couldn't break up with Blaine, though. That wasn't even an option as far as Kurt was concerned. In fact more than once he considered doing the opposite and just calling his new bosses and telling them that he had changed his mind, and then turn around and propose to Blaine there and then. At the end of the day, though, he knew he couldn't do that and Blaine wouldn't want him to either.
The option he kept coming back to was the concept known as "taking a break". Of course, in practice it wasn't much different from a long-distance relationship, but something about it felt … easier somehow. And he supposed there was the added clause that they could see other people. Not that he particularly needed that, and he honestly doubted Blaine did either. Although, come to think of it, Kurt had met more than a few people who, when he had told them his and Blaine's story, thought he did need that. Some people thought it was cute that they were each other's first everything and that they planned on growing old together, but there were definitely those that couldn't hide their skepticism; who would make jokes about Kurt's lack of romantic and sexual experience outside Blaine, and who smiled condescendingly when Kurt would speak of his future with Blaine. And it. Pissed. Kurt. Off.
At least if he and Blaine "saw other people" Kurt would be able to say ha, I told you so at the end of it, Kurt smiled wryly to himself. And Lily and Marshall on "How I Met Your Mother" had done the same thing, hadn't they? They, too, had only ever been with each other and they had seen other people for a while, and gotten back together and ended up married with kids and everything. Although Lily and Marshall had actually broken up for a while there, Kurt remembered then, which Kurt and Blaine definitely weren't, but the point still stood that it was something couples could do and still be okay.
Kurt and Blaine would be okay. They always were.
Kurt barges through his own front door and marches straight to his bedroom without stopping to take off his shoes or shed his coat. Only one thought pervades his mind: Pack a bag, get in the car and drive to Lima as fast as possible. Beyond that Kurt doesn't stop to think. If he did, rationality might kick in and he would realize that he is acting crazy, that visiting Finn and his family in the middle of the week is not a logical response to anything that has happened today and holy shit, he just bailed on the most important audition to come along for him in three years.
However, as Kurt swings his overnight bag over his shoulder, makes his way down to the parking garage and gets in the car, none of that is any more than a peripheral thought just out of reach, and as he gets on the road, blessing the midday slump in New York traffic, his mind is of a singular purpose. He repeats a mantra of get to Lima, get to Lima, get to Lima over and over in his head, knowing with a certainty, that would likely freak him out if he stopped to analyze it, that Lima is where he needs to be right now.
Kurt was drunk. Like, really drunk. Stupidly drunk. Possibly the drunkest he had ever been. That wasn't an excuse. On some level he did know that, and twenty-four hours later he would look back on this whole night and just cringe. But at this particular moment all Kurt saw was a handsome stranger paying him attention and take that, person-from-work-whose-name-I-can't-remember-right-now, I could totally score if I wanted to, and ooh, that accent was really rather cute. And then tall-dark-and-stupidly-handsome was buying him more drinks and being all charming and saying nice things. It felt good for once not being all alone in a sea of couples, and Kurt hadn't seen Blaine in person for so long. God, he missed being a couple, and oh wow, apparently tequilas made him horny (did he know this already? It felt like something he should have known), and if Kurt squinted Josh kind of looked like Blaine, so he could totally pretend.
Kurt startled awake in the early hours of the morning in a bed that wasn't his own, his head throbbing and his body gross and sticky with sweat and … other things. Out of the corner of his eye he saw that there was someone else in bed with him, lying flat on his stomach fast asleep and snoring lightly. Kurt groaned as memories of the previous night came back to him. Oh god, what had he done? This was possibly the single worst decision he had ever made. Then another wave of shame washed over him as he remembered that someone had called him last night and Josh, the idiot, had actually answered. Dreading what he would find and who he needed to apologize to (and possibly buy an extra large Christmas present this year), Kurt found his phone on the night table and navigated to his incoming calls list. Please don't let it be my dad. Kurt didn't think he would ever get over the shame of that.
It wasn't his dad. It was much, much worse.
So not only had Kurt gotten himself incredibly drunk and jumped into bed with a douchey foreigner (England? Australia?), but Blaine of all people had been made to listen to it?
Kurt was officially the world's largest asshole.
It's nearly six o'clock and Kurt has been driving for more than five hours, when he takes his first proper break, having stopped only once to fill the gas tank, use the bathroom and buy some snacks to make sure he doesn't pass out from hunger and dehydration. He pulls into a roadside diner and frowns at the menu for a minute, before ordering what he hopes is their least disgusting item. He tucks himself into a corner booth and while waiting for his food, he pulls out his phone as it occurs to him that he has yet to warn Finn that he's coming.
'Hey, Kurt. What's up?' Finn greets him warmly.
'Hi. Is this a bad time?' Kurt asks for no reason in particular because Finn always has time for him. It's one of the things he loves about having a brother.
'No, dude. It's fine. Did you need something?'
'Yeah, uhm...' Kurt hesitates. 'I was wondering if I could come visit you guys?'
'Sure! We'd love that.' Finn sounds genuinely happy at the prospect and it makes Kurt smile. 'The girls ask about you all the time.'
'Really? Your six-month-old is asking about me? I'm impressed,' Kurt laughs.
Finn snorts. 'You know what I mean. So when were you thinking of coming?'
'Uh, tonight? I'm kind of already on my way. Sorry,' Kurt adds, wincing.
'No, no. It's cool,' Finn assures him, though he can't hide his surprise. 'Any particular occasion?'
'I guess I just felt like it?' Kurt shrugs and it's sort of true, but he doesn't even attempt to explain the rest of it. 'The perks of being an actor between jobs.'
'Well, you're always welcome, you know that. We'll make up the couch for you.'
'Is everything okay?' Finn's voice is uncertain like he isn't sure he should be asking.
'I- yeah, it's fine. Just- weird day.' Kurt sighs.
'Is this about Evan? Did he say something?' Finn asks suspiciously.
'Who?' Kurt blurts dumbly, momentarily confused. 'Oh! Him. No, I haven't seen him since he moved the last of his stuff.'
'No one's gonna blame you if you're still upset, you know. You guys were together for a long time.'
'It's fine, Finn, really. Evan was right; my heart wasn't in it. It's- it's not that. It's...' I've spent all day seeing flashes of my first relationship. It hurts and it's confusing and I don't know what it means and I can't seem to stop it and I'm not sure if I want it to. 'Never mind, it's nothing. Listen, I gotta go, my food's here. See you in about four hours.'
For the most part Kurt managed to move on fairly quickly. He was almost ashamed to admit it, but with the launch date for his show drawing nearer, work was getting crazier and more intense at steady pace. Everyone seemed to want the cast for interviews and he was expected to attend every event under the sun, and the end result was that there just wasn't time to think too much about the state of his and Blaine's relationship. And what good was thinking about it going to do, anyway? Blaine hardly seemed to want to talk to Kurt anymore, he made that pretty clear.
By the time of their six-year anniversary in March, Kurt hadn't spoken to Blaine beyond a few short text messages for nearly two months. Kurt stared at his phone. He wanted to call Blaine and tell him... what? Something; god, anything. He just wanted to hear Blaine's voice. He wanted to tell Blaine that this was never what he wanted and how dare Blaine abandon him like this. But Blaine knew what Kurt wanted. He had said that from the start. Blaine had been the one to pull away. There was no way he was going to want to hear from Kurt, and by calling now, Kurt would just be making a fool of himself.
But he kept staring at his phone for the rest of the night, hoping beyond hope that it would buzz with a call, or even a text, from Blaine.
It never did.
It's a little after ten when Kurt pulls into the Hudson family's driveway, having made the trip in record time (he may or may not have been speeding a little along the way). The house is dark except for the light still on in the living room. Kurt has one finger on the door bell, before he realizes that the kids are probably sleeping, so rather than risk waking them he texts Finn to let him know of his arrival. A short moment later the door opens and Kurt is faced with a worried-looking Finn.
'You look terrible,' Finn chides as a way of greeting.
'Thanks,' Kurt deadpans. 'Nice to see you, too.'
'No- I just mean-' Finn mumbles awkwardly. 'Sorry, come in.'
Finn steps aside, motioning Kurt inside and he watches as Kurt removes his coat and shoes. The TV is humming quietly from the living room, but otherwise the house seems silent.
'Sarah and the kids asleep?' Kurt inquires, making conversation.
'Yeah, we tucked in the kids hours ago and Sarah just went up...' Finn trails off for a second, before he practically rounds on Kurt. 'Seriously though, Kurt. Are you gonna tell me what's up or what?
'Nothing's up, Finn,' Kurt evades, shrugging his shoulders and averting his eyes.
Finn narrows his eyes at Kurt, who turns on his heel to walk into the living room before Finn can force an explanation out of him. Kurt can hardly explain to himself why he is here, so how is he supposed to make Finn understand? He has barely made it three steps into the living room, however, before he stops abruptly, causing Finn to barge into him. Kurt barely notices his brother, instead finding himself staring at the TV screen, transfixed by what he sees.
'This shocking footage was recorded earlier tonight,' a voice informs over images of a dark-haired person being loaded into an ambulance and a totaled car, trapped between a truck and the crash barrier.
'That- that's here,' Kurt stammers as he recognizes the street, and he looks up at Finn who has come to stand next to him. 'This happened in Lima,' he emphasizes, though not quite able to explain why this should be significant. Kurt walks around the couch and perches on the coffee table, picking up the remote and turning the volume up and, needing to hear more.
'...the crash, which happened at approximately 8.15 earlier tonight, caused a minor explosion. While no bystanders were hurt and the forty-seven-year-old truck driver escaped with minor injuries, the driver of the car seen here has been rushed to the hospital where his condition remains critical.'
'Dude, why is this so import-?' Finn begins, but Kurt shushes him.
'Please, I need to hear this.'
'Authorities have yet to identify the victim and urge anyone who thinks they might know him to-'
'Is this that deflection thing that Sarah told me about?' Finn persists. 'Cause I don't see why you're so-'
'Finn, I'm begging you,' Kurt implores desperately, eyes glued to the screen and feeling inexplicably panicked at the thought of missing essential information about this accident. 'Please just shut up for a minute.'
'The victim is described as a white male, approximately five foot eight and eighteen years old with dark hair and brown eyes.'
'I have to go,' Kurt announces then, standing up.
'What? But you just got here,' Finn protests, following Kurt as he heads back into the hall and pulls his shoes and coat back on in a hurry.
'I know, I'm sorry. But I have to see that boy,' Kurt explains, his bag already slung over his shoulder and opening the front door.
'The kid from the news?' Kurt, already out the door and fishing out his car keys as he walks towards the car, doesn't answer even as Finn jogs after him barefooted and short-sleeved. 'Kurt, slow down you're not making any sense.'
Kurt stops by his parked car, sighs and turns to face Finn. 'Tell me about it.' When Finn still looks anxious, Kurt pulls him into a hug that he hopes comes across as reassuring. 'Don't wait up. I'll be fine.' And with that, before Finn can utter any more protests, Kurt gets in the car and drives off.
Kurt is aware that going to the hospital to see some random kid is crazy. In fact very little of what he has done all day makes any sense. Kurt has no idea what or who he hopes to find at the hospital. He doesn't even know any eighteen-year-old boys, as far as he is aware. But in the same way he knew this morning that he had to go to Lima, he just knows he has to see this boy. His mind seems to be bursting with thoughts, like a myriad of voices all shouting to be heard, but making sense of it is like trying to watch a foreign movie without subtitles. He understands his emotions, but the logic and the specifics are lost on him, so he operates entirely on instinct.
Within ten minutes Kurt arrives at the hospital and he practically runs the distance between his car and the front desk.
'The guy you brought in earlier,' he pants, a little out of breath and cutting straight to the chase. 'The one from the car accident. I need to see him.'
The young nurse, who was looking bored a second ago, visibly perks up at Kurt's words. 'You know him?'
'I- It's-' Kurt hesitates. There is a thought somewhere on the edge of his mind, like a word just on the tip of his tongue, and he shakes his head a little as though to try and shift it into focus. Then without warning a series of split-second images flash through Kurt's mind.
A flipped-over car. A bandaged foot in his lap. A table covered with at least six different kinds of breakfast. West Side Story on TV. A bridge. Another bridge. A curly-haired man wrapped in his arms.
It's over within a second or two and Kurt takes a step back, steadying himself as his vision comes back into focus. What the hell was that?
'Sir? Are you okay?' The nurse grabs Kurt's shoulder gently, steadying him further. 'Do you need to lie down?'
'No, no, I'm fine,' Kurt assures her quickly even as a wave of nausea washes over him. 'Please just let me see him. I- I think maybe- I just need to see him.'
'Okay, then,' she acquiesces though she still looks unsure. 'I'll take you to him.'
Heart hammering wildly, Kurt follows the nurse as she leads him into the nearest elevator and presses the second floor button. The ride seems to go on forever and Kurt has a moment of panic when he considers the possibility that the elevator could get stuck and he might be trapped here for hours, but then the elevator bell dings and the doors open to reveal a long, bright corridor. The nurse leads him past door after door, finally stopping near the end of the corridor outside the door to the room designated 206.
'I should warn you,' she cautions, her eyes sad and kind. 'He hasn't woken at all since they brought him in, and the doctors are saying he might not ever wake up.'
Kurt swallows and he nods once, staring determinedly at the door handle. 'Okay, I understand.'
The nurse opens the door and motions for Kurt to lead the way inside. Now that he is here, Kurt can't bring himself to look just yet. He delays the moment a few more seconds by looking around the room, which is dimly lit by a lamp on the table next to the single bed, whose occupant is hooked up to a machine that emits a low beep every few seconds.
Kurt's eyes fall first on the boy's feet outlined beneath a white hospital blanket, and from there his gaze travels slowly up the slender body, coming to rest for a second on his right hand, bandaged and resting at his side. Something odd happens then. He hears his own voice in his head, but it's saying words that he doesn't remember ever uttering.
A break? Isn't the point of those that you get back together?
A different voice – such a familiar voice – responds, echoing through his mind, the words still unfamiliar but they are so crystal clear in his mind that they feel part of real memory.
I guess... That's what you said at first, but you... You moved on.
Kurt doesn't stop to analyze what he hears, but continues his gaze up the boy's torso until it finally comes to rest on his face. A face covered in little cuts, that Kurt guesses are from bits of broken glass, but a face that is instantly recognizable regardless. The sight completely floors Kurt and he feels like someone punched him in the gut, because what he sees is entirely impossible.
Not only that but teenage Blaine.
Blaine who should be thirty-two, not seventeen.
Wait, where did 'seventeen' come from?
And then all at once, as though on cue, everything comes flooding back to him. As he rushes to Blaine's side, grabbing his hand and perching on the bed, crying 'Oh, Blaine honey, what happened to you?' every last strange memory of things that should be completely impossible but happened fills his mind, and within a minute everything is so perfectly clear to him, that he can't believe he ever forgot it.
'I take it you know him?'
Kurt startles at the sound of the nurse's voice, having forgotten her presence the moment he walked into the room.
'I- yes, he's-' Kurt begins but cuts himself off when it sinks in that Blaine thinks I moved on, he thinks I left him and he focuses his attention again on the sleeping boy, stroking his hand, his hair, his face, babbling incoherent apologies and tears stinging his eyes, because how could he have messed up so badly?
'Sir?' The nurse's voice grounds him again. 'Do you know who he is?'
'Sorry, sorry,' Kurt mumbles, wiping away a single tear and turning to look at her, but still holding on tightly to Blaine's hand. 'He's my-' Kurt falters as it strikes him that he can't say anything that involves the word 'boyfriend' (how creepy would that look?) and he can't give her Blaine's last name, because what happens when they find him in the system and he's supposed to be thirty-two? 'I'm his mentor,' he lies wildly. Yes, that's it. Kurt has been to schools and community theaters before and talked about acting and Broadway. He could easily have met Blaine there. 'His name is Blaine. I'm sorry, that's all I know.'
Fortunately the nurse seems to believe him and nods her head. Less than fortunate is the fact that Kurt is made to leave shortly after that. Hospital policy, the nurse says. Kurt almost tells her to stick her policies a certain place, because here he is, seeing Blaine for the first time since Rachel's wedding in 2019 (where they both brought dates and it was awkward and they barely spoke) and now they are both here under circumstances that have Kurt reevaluating everything either of them have said and done in the last fifteen years, and she wants to kick him out because of policies? However, as he doubts that course of action would actually be particularly beneficial for him, Kurt does as bid and reluctantly lets go of Blaine's hand before following the nurse out, his heart aching and half-convinced that the moment he leaves the room, he is going to turn around and have it all turn out to be a dream.
Kurt goes downstairs and finds an empty chair in the waiting area, having quickly decided against going back to Finn's place for the night, rather than risk being made to explain himself. He does wonder if Finn, too, would remember everything the moment he saw Blaine, though testing it seems like a less than stellar idea with everything that could go wrong. Besides, what's going on is between himself and Blaine, and it feels private, like it's meant for them and them alone.
He recalls Blaine telling them back then in 2012 that he had been leaving his parents' house when the accident happened, and Kurt briefly entertains the idea of contacting Blaine's parents or even Cooper, but if bringing Finn into it seems risky, trying to explain the situation to Blaine's family is downright ludicrous.
Besides, Blaine will be fine. The doctors might say that Blaine could remain comatose and never wake up, but Kurt, of course, happens to know otherwise. Blaine was in 2012 for three days, and the younger version of him was fine, if a little bruised, when he came back. Which means that by Friday night the young Blaine sleeping (comatose sounds so depressing) in a hospital bed upstairs will have woken up, and then somehow – Kurt hasn't really figured out how – he will find his way home. Kurt isn't worried about that at all.
As minute after minute passes by and Tuesday turns to Wednesday, what does weigh on Kurt's mind is his breakup with Blaine and how much of an idiot Kurt was about it. At the time he interpreted Blaine's pulling away from him as drifting apart and falling out of love and Kurt blamed himself for suggesting the stupid break that led to that. Now he still blames himself, but he understands that Blaine wasn't pulling away from Kurt because he didn't want to be with him; he did it because it was too painful not to be. And Kurt should have known that, should have known Blaine well enough to realize that this is Blaine's modus operandi when he gets scared or insecure; pretend everything is fine until that becomes too hard, then pull away to save yourself the hurt. Kurt did know this. Or had he learned nothing from the Chandler saga of 2012?
'Hey,' someone calls softly and Kurt looks up to see the nurse from earlier but out of her scrubs now, wearing jeans and an overcoat with a messenger bag slung over her shoulder. 'You're still here.'
'What, you gonna make me leave again?' Kurt snarls sarcastically at her.
'No,' she replies patiently, putting on a smile and ignoring Kurt's tone. She sits in the empty chair next to him, before holding out her hand, Kurt only now noticing that she is carrying something. 'I brought you coffee.'
'Oh.' Kurt accepts the coffee gratefully, feeling stupid for snapping at her. 'Sorry.'
'It's okay,' she brushes it off with a wave of her hand. 'You're stressed. I'm Vanessa, by the way.'
'Kurt.' He smiles wanly at her.
'I know,' she winks at him and he blinks and stares at her. 'Kurt Hummel, right? What, nurses can enjoy Broadway too, you know.'
Kurt chuckles briefly, though to be honest he is a little overwhelmed by Vanessa's perkiness.
'It's not hopeless, you know,' she tells him with a sudden quietness. 'Your friend. He could wake up.'
'Oh, I know, he'll be fine,' Kurt blurts a little too confidently. 'It's not that.'
'Then what?' Vanessa urges him. 'And don't tell me "nothing". I know people far too well and that -' she gestures at Kurt's face. '- is not a "nothing" look.'
Kurt sighs heavily. 'I fucked up. Bad.'
'How so?' she asks mildly.
'I was so busy going on and on about LA, and my job and my colleagues and all the parties I would go to, that I never stopped to truly listen to him,' Kurt babbles off, making no real effort to make any of it understandable to the woman next to him. 'I'd ask how he was doing and he would give me the standard answer, and I should have seen through that and known that he was never okay with any of it. And we end up breaking up, when we shouldn't have.'
'Is this about your friend upstairs? Blaine?' Vanessa's brow creases in confusion.
Kurt hesitates. He doesn't have it in him to make up and elaborate lie, but he can't exactly tell her the whole truth either, so he decides to go with cryptic. 'Kind of. Not really.'
'I thought I was being clear, you know? About what I wanted.' (Blaine. ASAP.) 'But looking back? God, I wasn't at all. Let's go on a break and get back together when you graduate. But in the meantime let me tell you what anawesome time I'm having in LA and neglect to tell you about the stuff that sucks. Oh, and I'll get drunk off my face and stumble into bed with a stranger, but only apologize for making you listen to it, not the fact that it happened. Talk about mixed signals.'
Kurt exhales and they sit in silence for a short moment as Vanessa seems to digest his words.
'I'm no expert and I'm pretty sure I only understood about half of that, but it sounds to me like a classic case of miscommunication,' Vanessa reflects. 'And communication is a two-way street as far I'm aware, so don't you be putting all the blame on yourself.'
'You don't understand,' Kurt protests. 'I was the one to say we should take a break and I went about it really clumsily, making him doubt-'
'Well beating yourself up about it is not going to get you anywhere,' Vanessa maintains as she gets up from her seat and turns to face him. 'Listen, I have to get home, but if you wanted my advice... I'd say end your little pity party, go find your man, apologize and hope he'll take you back.'
'Okay then, I will,' Kurt promises, imitating responding to an order. 'Just as soon as I've made sure Blaine is okay.' Kurt smiles to himself (of course Blaine is okay) and suddenly remembering his untouched coffee he lifts the cup to take a sip. 'Thanks for the coffee. And the pep talk. It helped.'
'No problem. Take care, Kurt.' And, apparently satisfied that her work is done, Vanessa turns and walks away.
Kurt manages to get a few hours of sleep, spread unevenly throughout the night. By eight o'clock the hospital is once again buzzing with activity and he gives up on getting any more sleep. He approaches the front desk where a male nurse is now working. Kurt introduces himself and asks about possibly being allowed to see Blaine again. To his surprise the nurse's face lights up in a smile at Kurt's request.
'Sure, go on up! Vanessa instructed us to give you special visiting privileges. Poor boy's probably not going to get a lot of other visitors.'
Kurt hums non-committally in response, but thanks the man before heading back upstairs, doing his best to appear as casual as possible. Once he has closed the door behind him and laid eyes on Blaine, Kurt goes straight to his side, once again taking Blaine's hand in his and touching Blaine's face, some part of him still needing to be reassured that this is actually happening.
Kurt ends up spending most of the day in Blaine's room, only leaving his side to visit the cafeteria and go to the bathroom and then once to phone Finn and tell him that he has gone back to New York and that he is sorry for worrying him, he had just been worked up about an audition, that's all.
Kurt remembers having heard that you should keep touching and talking to coma patients, even when you don't think they can feel or hear it, that it's supposed to keep the brain stimulated or something. So he does. He tells lengthy stories about his life now, and the lives of everyone they know that Kurt still keeps in touch with. He recalls happy memories of their time in high school and college. He talks and talks until his throat is dry and he has to take a break. Then he simply sits there still holding Blaine's hand, never letting go, caressing him softly, and when he feels like talking again, he speaks gently, uttering fragmented sentences – love you so much – I'm so sorry – you'll be okay – I never stopped loving you – the tone of the words, sweet and caring, more important than the words themselves.
Thursday passes much in the same way as Wednesday, except Kurt gets the idea to visit the gift shop, where he buys a stuffed dog that reminds him of Blaine, flowers in bright colors and a thick novel by Blaine's favorite author. He places the toy on the bed next to Blaine's head and puts the flowers in a vase on the table next to the bed, feeling satisfied as both succeed in brightening up the room considerably. He spends most of the rest of the day reading the book aloud to Blaine, finishing it around noon on Friday.
This is also when Kurt starts to get anxious. It can't be long now. Blaine has to be waking up soon. The switch is happening tonight, surely he has to be awake for that? As hour after hour passes by without any sign of change in Blaine's condition, though, Kurt starts to wonder how exactly it's going to happen. All he knows is that their attempts with the bridges didn't work, which – now that he is here in 2027 – isn't really a surprise. Even assuming that Rachel and Puck kept their word – which, short of calling them up and asking, he has no way of knowing, Blaine's phone having been destroyed in the car wreck – Blaine has been out cold since the accident on Tuesday and so not really in a position to carry out any instructions. Back in 2012 it happened when Kurt was holding Blaine in his arms, but Kurt doesn't really understand how that is the equivalent of the car crashes that got him there.
It's nearly midnight and Kurt is sitting in a chair by the bed, his head resting on the mattress and his fingers absent-mindedly stroking Blaine's hand as sleep very nearly overtakes him, when feels fingers that aren't his own twitch and Kurt immediately straightens up.
'Blaine?' A low groan escapes Blaine's throat and Kurt's heart leaps. 'Blaine, honey, I'm here. You're okay. It's okay, you're fine.' Kurt is hardly aware of what he is saying except doing his best to make sure that Blaine won't be frightened. Blaine moans and his fingers twitch again under Kurt's hand as, slowly, he begins to wake up. Blaine's eyes flicker open and something catches in Kurt's throat and his own eyes mist over as he looks into those beautiful hazel eyes for the first time in so so long. 'That's it, honey. You're doing good. I'm right here.'
'I don't- I was- There was-' Blaine fumbles for the words, clearly still groggy and confused. He blinks a few times as the world seems to come into sharper focus for him. 'Kurt? You're... I can't-'
'Shh, sweetheart, take it easy.' Kurt reaches out a hand to gently caress the side of Blaine's face. 'You're still foggy from sleeping for so long.'
Blaine frowns, moving his hand, still a little clumsy in his coordination, to cover Kurt's. 'H-how long did I sleep?'
'Just three days, Blaine,' Kurt informs him, suppressing a laugh as he realizes that what Blaine is seeing might have made him think that it has been much longer.
'But Kurt, what happened?' Blaine asks, his voice hazy and slow. 'You look old.'
Kurt just smiles sweetly. 'Time will do that to you.' Blaine frowns again. 'Don't worry. Everything's going to be fine. You trust me, right?'
Blaine nods. Of course he does, and to be honest he looks more puzzled and curious than scared or panicked.
'You're safe, Blaine, and you're going home soon. I love you, okay?' Kurt's voice is soft, barely more than a whisper and he smiles again as he takes Blaine's hand in his own, tangling their fingers together, before lifting his gaze and meeting Blaine's.
Kurt gets to his feet then and leans down across Blaine until they are face to face, pausing only for a brief second before capturing Blaine's lips in a gentle kiss that Blaine, his eyes fluttering shut, doesn't hesitate to return. For the second time in his life, Kurt hears the soft swooshing sound, but this time he keeps his eyes open as he watches and feels the change happen, never breaking the kiss.
And finally he understands; where tearing Blaine away from the time, in which he belongs, was caused by an upset mind, by anger at loved ones and the violence of a car crash, getting him home again is about the complete opposite, about being at peace and feeling loved. It took a car crash to tear the two Blaines away from home, but something is simple as a kiss from the love of his life will send them back.
When it's over Kurt pulls back and Blaine, finally the age he needs to be, opens his eyes. His gaze falls first upon Kurt's lips, then his eyes, before he seems to take in Kurt's entire being. The reaction is subtle at first, but Kurt thinks he sees something in Blaine's eyes change and it's almost as if a light comes on inside him.
Kurt smiles, biting his lip to keep the happy tears from spilling, and he watches as Blaine's mouth falls open slightly and his eyes grow huge. There are so many things Kurt could say right now; there are things that need explaining and apologizing for, things he needs to ask of Blaine and things they need to discuss before moving forward.
But not right now. Because this is them, together again after so long, and it's all that matters. The rest – well, they have all the time in the world for that.
And right now there is the far more pressing matter of being much too far away from Blaine, so Kurt kicks off his shoes and climbs into the bed to lie next to him. He takes Blaine into his arms, mimicking their position from so many years ago – a moment ago from Blaine's point of view. Kurt breathes his first word to Blaine, then, in a low contented voice, and it's far more appropriate and holds far more promise than any apology ever could.
Well, there you go. :) I apologise to those who might have wanted the ending to include a complete rewrite of history, but that was just never going to happen on my watch. :P
Btw, if you're interested you can check out my Livejournal for a post with a little soundtrack I put together. I can't link properly but it's at ilovescarves89. livejournal .com
Also - here's the original prompt thingy on tumblr if you want to see what inspired all this. :p (just take out the extra spaces - FF dot net is stupid, lol) shotgunanderson. tumblr. com /post/16929540239/so-i-suddenly-realised-i-really-badly-want-a-fic