[ twelve. ]
Adjusting back to normal life is strange, but Blaine starts slow.
The first few days, he lounges around, attempting to do some homework and maybe a few chores. His father stays home from work – which is odd considering he used to spend every waking moment there. His mother doesn't have that luxury, but she's always helpful when she's not at work. Cooper doesn't do anything different. He makes himself right at home, almost like he never left. He goes right back to eating all the food in the pantry and fighting over the remote with Blaine.
Blaine doesn't go out much, and he's been restricted from seeing Kurt – not because his parents aren't supportive, but because they want to keep an eye on as well as spend time with him. Plus, he really does need to focus on the heavy pile of schoolwork. Hopefully, he'll have everything finished by July and enjoy a two-month vacation before starting back up at Dalton in September.
It's odd to have so much freedom, to not have a strict schedule and certain boundaries anymore, but it's not bad. Blaine really enjoys being able to get out of the house and just walk around in the practically summer weather. He likes going out with Cooper to get something to eat or go shopping or do whatever. He just likes feeling almost normal again.
Being tied up at home or to someone in his family has its drawbacks, however, and one of them is the fact that Blaine doesn't see his friends until the last day of school. With Cooper in the passenger seat, he drags himself all the way to Dalton by lunch time. He gets a visitor's pass in the front office, where the receptionist gives him a warm welcome, and he and Cooper head to the cafeteria.
Dressed not in his uniform, but a pair of tan shorts and red polo, he stands out. Heads turn as he walks through the tables. Whispers follow him as he goes, but he ignores them, focusing on his friends, urging them to be the ones to look next. At last, they follow suit with everyone and turn towards Blaine, mouths falling open and eyes going wide. Blaine smiles without even noticing and picks up the pace to reach them.
Suddenly, Blaine becomes the center of a huge group hug, everyone talking to him at once. His smile is practically splitting his face, his heart ready to explode out of his chest. It takes minutes before Blaine is standing by himself again, no one hugging him or clapping him on the back or slapping his upper am. He's finally left standing and staring at his friends, wrapping his hands together and grinning wide.
"So," he says. "How have you guys been?"
"Us?" David asks incredibly. "Blaine, what about you – we haven't seen in you in what – three months?"
Blaine shrugs. "I'm good. Really good, actually."
"So it worked this time?" Nick asks hesitantly. "I don't have to walk in on any more scares?"
Blaine feels a rush of guilt, but he shakes it off. "No more scares, I promise. I'm – I'm sorry about that, Nick."
Nick holds up a hand, shaking his head. "Just as long as you're better now."
"Well, I am," Blaine says, nodding. "I'm a lot better now."
He looks around, watching as his friends slowly grin, feeling a warmth grow in his chest as a mix of emotions overcome them – relief, happiness, pride. It only intensifies the satisfaction he's felt since coming home.
"So, are you – what are you doing about school?" Wes asks, breaking the silence.
"Homeschooling," Blaine replies. "I'm finishing up the year at my own pace, but I'll be back in the dorms next year."
"Well, that's – that's great," Wes says, smiling. "We've missed you, Blaine. We've missed you a lot."
"I've missed you guys too," Blaine says, almost laughing.
"You'll be back in the Warblers, right?" Trent asks, looking thoroughly anxious about it, and Blaine laughs.
"Of course," Blaine says. "I wouldn't dream of quitting now."
Trent looks relieved, and Blaine continues to smile as he looks around the room.
"Well," Jeff says. "We've still got a half hour for lunch. Care to join us?"
Blaine nods. "I'd love to."
They all sit down, and Blaine calls Cooper over to join them.
As his friends eat, Blaine is bombarded with questions. Everyone's careful not to pry and not to say the wrong thing, but Blaine doesn't mind. Talking about things is easier now that Blaine has stability in a bottle. Most of the things Blaine answers anyway are about how he's doing now: how are the anti-depressants? How's he doing with homeschooling? How often does he have to go back to the hospital?
Soon enough, the tables turn, and Blaine's the one asking questions, and everyone fills him in on what's been going on at Dalton. Apparently, the spring concert went spectacularly well. There was also a rumor flying around that their history teacher, Mr. Phillips was fooling around with the young, new librarian on campus – which was confirmed when Jeff found them in the janitor's closet.
Sitting with his friends at the lunch table, telling stories and laughing at jokes – it only adds to the growing feeling that Blaine's almost normal again. Yes, he has to take medication; yes, he has to see a therapist once every two weeks; yes, some days are really awful, but today feels great, and finally, Blaine feels like a regular teenager.
Eventually, however, the bell does have to ring, and while Blaine's friends go off to finish their last two finals, he and Cooper go and get some real lunch and hang around downtown – only to come back later with Blaine's friends.
Dalton is in high summer spirits when Blaine and Cooper return. The guys shed their blazers and ties and pile into their cars, following after Blaine and Cooper. They walk downtown, discovering and looking through all the little shops they've never seen before. In one of the quirkier shops, Blaine finds a bowtie with a map pattern on it. Cooper buys it for him, along with a new pair of aviators.
At the end of the day, they wind up in an old ice cream parlor, sitting around on the barstools and talking. There's a dozen conversations going on at once, and during a moment that Blaine's simply observing, Nick nudges him.
"Hey," he says quietly. "I just – I wanted to ask – I mean – are you really okay?"
Blaine lets out a small laugh. He hangs his head, smiling.
"I'm serious," Nick says defensively.
"No, no – I know you are," Blaine says, looking back up at him. "It's just – yeah. I am okay. Honestly, Nick. I've been doing really, really well, actually."
Nick nods, not meeting his eyes. "I'm glad, Blaine. To – to be honest, I've been really worried about you. I know I've got Jeff, and I spend a lot more time with him, but you're one of my best friends, Blaine, and I don't think I'd ever get over it if you actually killed yourself."
Blaine presses his lips together, swallowing hard. "Nick, I'm sorry," he says.
"No, it – " Nick starts, but Blaine cuts him off.
"You've probably had the most trouble dealing this," Blaine continues. "I mean, hell – you found me lifeless twice."
"Not completely," Nick says, snorting humorlessly.
"Well, close enough," Blaine says, "and I'm honestly really sorry about it. The more I think about, the more I realize how much I put you guys through – making you worry like that. It's kind of selfish, really."
"No, it's not," Nick argues. "You can't control the fact that you felt that way, Blaine. Honestly, it's not your fault. I know depression is a really difficult disease to deal with. My sister has it, you know. I mean – she never tried to commit suicide, but she cut herself, and we could all see how miserable she was. Looking back, we should have tried to help her a lot sooner; we could've saved her a few scars. But she got better, and I'm really glad you are, too, Blaine."
Blaine smiles shyly. "I am, too. And though I'm sorry it happened in the first place, I'm glad you always got to me in time, Nick. Because now, I really don't want to die. I want to get back into things. I just – now that I've been given my what – fourth chance? – I want to make the most of it."
"It's good to hear that," Nick replies with a grin. "You know, I kind of want to keep you around, Blaine. You're not half bad."
Blaine laughs, digging back into his small cup of ice cream. Nick shakes his head, doing the same.
All in all, it's great to be back with his friends, and Blaine's really grateful that they've been there for him. Even if they don't understand exactly what he's going through, they're trying, and that's what matters. Blaine wouldn't be anywhere without them.
A little under three weeks after Blaine comes home, Kurt knocks on the Anderson's door. Blaine's in the kitchen working on schoolwork, and he cranes his head to look through the doorway, watching as Cooper answers the knock. Blaine recognizes his voice before he sees him, and he springs out of seat, hurrying to the front door. He crashes behind Cooper, a huge smile on his face.
"Geez, what the he – "
"Sorry," Blaine says, a little breathless, turning to Kurt. "I'm just really happy to see you."
Kurt laughs. "Well, it has been three weeks."
"Yeah, sorry about my parents," Blaine says sheepishly.
Kurt waves it off. "I completely understand. I'd want to keep an eye on you, too, but since I can't . . . I'm glad they're doing it for me."
Cooper looks between them, then turns away. "I'll leave you guys alone."
Blaine watches Cooper leave, and then steps forward, wrapping his arms around Kurt's waist, careful of the bag resting against Kurt's thigh as he kisses him softly. When he tries to pull away, Kurt lingers for just a second longer, eyes closed and breath heavy.
"I really missed you," he says, voice almost a whisper, and he straightens up, keeping his hands on Blaine's shoulders. "I mean, I know we've been texting, and I know you're taking your medication, but I can't help but get nervous and worry and , Blaine, I just – "
"Kurt," Blaine interrupts him. "I'm fine."
Kurt visibly relaxes, smiling a little lopsidedly. "I know, but I – I worry." He heaves a sigh. "Well, anyway, I was just wondering if you wanted to go with me somewhere. I've already talked to your parents, and they're alright with it."
"Yeah, sure, of course," Blaine sighs. "Um – where?"
Kurt swallows hard, pressing his lips together. "My father's grave."
Blaine feels an odd rush of sadness, guilt, and dull eagerness. "Um – yeah," he says. "I'd love to – well, I mean – " He sighs.
"I know what you mean," Kurt assures. "Are you ready now? Or do you need to - ?"
"No, no, I'm good. Let me just – " He turns around and yells, "Cooper! I'm going out with Kurt!"
"Okay!" is the answer, and Blaine turns back around, grabbing Kurt's hand and motioning for him to go ahead. They go out to Kurt's car, and, as they head to the graveyard, they hold tightly to each other's hands.
Blaine stares out the window the whole ride, not minding the silence at all. It gives him space to think and really take in what they're about to do. He knows that he didn't know Burt very well, that he shouldn't have been so affected, but, in a way, he does feel like they had a kind of instant connection. An awkward, father-not-son sort of bond. If they had been given time, they would have formed it more, but they didn't, and that's what makes Blaine so upset and disappointed. At least now, he can feel some sense of closure with that event.
The graveyard is quiet when they arrive. There are only the sounds of the birds, and each other's breathing, and distant traffic if they listen closely. It's sunny out, only a few clouds in the sky, and normally, it would feel like a contradiction to the situation, but Blaine thinks it fits. He's here to visit someone who once helped in the process of bringing him to happiness, and why not thank him like this – in a place that's gorgeous and full of life?
Blaine and Kurt still have their fingers held tightly together as they walk along the grass, looking for the headstone with his father's name on it. As it turns out, it's near the back of the graveyard, just around the left-hand side. It's just an average headstone, nothing grand or over-the-top about it.
Blaine bends down, hand going immediately to the top of it, caressing the stone as he reads:
April 12th, 1965 – March 29th, 2011
Forty-six years old. Blaine feels a lump in his throat as he thinks about it. His own father is forty-eight. A sudden wave of realization falls over Blaine. People die every day. People who are young and old and somewhere in between. Brothers, friends, fathers, neighbors – they all die. Nine weeks ago, Blaine was ready to give up his life, and now he almost cherishes it. Burt's life was precious – precious to many, many people, and Blaine should treat his own the same.
Blaine thinks about his own father, who's older than Burt and who's still healthy and alive. There's another thing Blaine should really be grateful for – the fact that he has a father. So maybe they haven't always gotten along, so maybe sometimes it's really difficult to see eye to eye with each other, but that doesn't mean they don't love each other. Blaine hasn't really ever appreciated his father, at least not since he was twelve and his friends had crushes on girls and he didn't. He should really try to. He should put forth that effort and meet his father halfway.
Blaine shouldn't waste his own life, and he shouldn't waste the relationship that he and his father have, because some people don't have either one of those.
A sniffle from his right pulls Blaine from his thoughts. There are tears trickling down Kurt's face, and, instinctively, Blaine wraps his arms around Kurt's waist, pulling him close. Kurt rests his head on Blaine's shoulder, keeping his eyes on his father's grave.
Blaine's not sure how long they stand there, the sun beating down on their backs, a breeze ruffling their hair, and birds singing in the trees around them. He stays silent, letting Kurt cry quietly, getting it all out. From time to time, he rubs his hand along Kurt's upper arm, reminding Kurt that he's there.
Eventually, Kurt pulls away, and he pulls something from his bag – two white roses. He hands one to Blaine, forcing a small smile, and Blaine takes it. Kurt bends down first, setting his rose gently at the base of the headstone. He braces himself, putting his hand on the top of it as he leans forward. Closing his eyes, Kurt presses a kiss to the marble.
"I miss you, Dad," he whispers, "but I know that you're okay now. I hope you're having fun wherever you are, and that you find time to watch over me. I love you." He presses his head against his hand, closing his eyes again, completely silent. Another minute or so passes before he stands up again, motioning for Blaine to go ahead.
Blaine lowers himself to his knees, and drops his rose right beside Kurt's. His eyes graze over the name again, filling with a deep, chilling sadness. Now's his chance.
"Mr. Hummel, Burt, whatever you prefer, I know we didn't know each other a long time or very well, but you were part of what kept me going. You made me feel like I – I mattered, like I was important. Even as you sat on your deathbed, you made sure I was doing okay, though, like I said, we didn't know each other that well. I know this sounds silly, but you felt more like a father to me in those few weeks than my own dad, but, now, because of you, we're working on things. We're trying to fix our relationship, and we're making progress. I owe a lot of things to you, Burt, and it pains me more than it probably should to know that I no longer have a chance to thank you properly. I'm so sorry you had to go like this – " Blaine begins to choke a little, and he suddenly realizes he's crying.
"Burt, you – you didn't deserve this. You deserved to see Kurt and Finn grow up and start families of their own. You deserved to be a grandfather and a father-in-law, and you just – you deserved so much more, but if it's any consolation at all, I just want you to know how much you've helped me, and I'm going to make the most of my life. And I just – Burt, I'm sorry, and - and thank you. Thank you so much."
Blaine hangs his head, letting the tears come and the sobs rack his body. When he's finished, and he's found the ability to breathe again, he stands up shakily, practically throwing himself back at Kurt. They embrace tightly, holding each other together as they try to get a grip.
"I'm sorry," Blaine mumbles into Kurt's shoulder. "God, I'm so sorry."
Kurt sniffles, pulling back. He puts a shaky hand on Blaine's cheek, rubbing his finger along underneath his eye and trying hopelessly to collect the tears. "Don't be," he says softly. "My dad had a good life, Blaine, and I'll – we'll get through this. I'm just – I'm glad he's not suffering anymore. His heart problems made it difficult, and I'm just glad he won't have to deal with that any longer. Sure, I wish he could've been around for everything that you said, but he's probably happier now, and we shouldn't let this drag us down."
Blaine laughs, a little hysterical. Kurt stares at him, perplexed.
Blaine shakes his head. "Always so optimistic."
"Not optimistic," Kurt corrects. "Just logical."
Blaine snorts. "Well, I guess I could use a little logic then."
Kurt closes the distance between them, pressing his lips to Blaine's with a certain fierceness. He wraps his arms around Blaine's neck, one hand coming back to tangle in his hair. When he finally pulls away, pushing his and Blaine's foreheads together, he's breathing heavily, but Blaine can still make out what he says next.
"I love you."
Blaine freezes, feeling his heart skip a couple of beats.
"W – what?"
Kurt's eyes fly open, and he pulls back. "Oh, Blaine – I didn't – I'm sorry, I – "
"No, it's okay," Blaine reassures quickly, smiling. "I – I love you, too, Kurt." He swallows hard. "I'm just . . . not used to hearing that, I guess."
"Well, I mean it," Kurt replies. "You've done so much for me; I can't help it."
"Likewise," Blaine replies with a smirk, and he leans in quick to kiss Kurt again, deepening it as soon as possible. He's not sure how they make it back to the car later, but the next thing he knows, they're driving back to Kurt's house, trying to contain the threat of explosion in their chests, as well as their pants.
A few days later, Blaine is practically glowing when he walks into Marianne's office. He sits down on the couch and stretches out, making himself at home with a smile on his face. Marianne watches him with a pleased look, placing her clipboard on her lap.
"So I take it the medication's working well?
Blaine laughs. "Yeah, it is."
"And you're doing well?" Marianne asks. "Any more panic attacks? Any suicidal thoughts getting through?"
"No," Blaine says, shaking his head. "I feel great."
"Well," Marianne says, smiling wide. "Then I don't know what you're doing here, Blaine. Do you have anything you want to talk about? Any problems with adjustment?"
Blaine contemplates that for a moment. "Yeah," he says slowly, "but they're easy to deal with. It's mostly the homeschooling and the restrictions my parents have set."
"Your parents," Marianne repeats. "And things are going okay with them?"
"Yeah," Blaine says, grinning. He sits up a little straighter. "Actually, my dad – he, uh – he wants to take me to baseball game next weekend. And tomorrow I'm going shopping with my mom to get some new clothes." Blaine feels a little thrill go through his chest.
It's been almost unbelievable to see how quickly he and his parents are learning to get along and communicate. It's easier with his mother; the only real problem is how overprotective she is. She fusses over him far too much for his liking, but, if he were to be honest, it's a lot better than having her not take care of him.
His father is a different story. He's still a little distant, and a little awkward when Kurt is around, but he's trying. He was the one who let Blaine go to the cemetery with Kurt, and he's also invited Kurt over for dinner next week. Not to mention the fact that he's working from home, having once been a near workaholic.
Things aren't perfect, but they're looking up, and Blaine really appreciates both of his parents' support.
"Well, that's great, Blaine," Marianne says cheerfully. "How are your other relationships – your brother, your friends?"
"They're all fantastic," Blaine replies, and he feels a blush settle in his cheeks as memories of the other night come rushing back. He shifts his weight, rubbing the back of his neck.
Marianne raises an eyebrow. "Blaine, is there something you want to talk about?"
They fall into Kurt's bed, an entanglement of limbs. Blaine keeps kissing Kurt fiercely as Kurt twists his fingers around in Blaine's hair, yanking and pulling. Blaine moves away from Kurt's mouth, kissing down the hollow of his throat, and Kurt lets out a whine.
"Actually, there is," Blaine begins softly. "Do you remember that day we were talking about love and being someone's first choice, being the person someone's world revolved around?"
Kurt pulls hungrily at the hem of Blaine's shirt. Together they work to pull it off, tossing it somewhere to the right of Kurt's bed. Blaine pushes against Kurt, rolling him over until he's on top of him. Still managing to keep their lips together, they move frantically to get Kurt's shirt off.
"And you remember how I thought I'd never find somebody like that – someone that put me first? I never thought I'd be the most important person to someone?"
Blaine can feel the erection straining his jeans, and his hips buck up. He can't help himself as he ruts helplessly against Kurt. Kurt takes control now, flipping him and Blaine around so he's the one straddling Blaine. Deepening another kiss, he pulls at Blaine's zipper, and then undoes the button. He pulls away for just one second to say, "You can tell me stop any time."
But Blaine doesn't. He shakes his head and reaches back up for Kurt. "Go ahead," he says breathlessly. "I want this, Kurt. I want you so bad."
"I never thought it was possible for someone to love me like that. I never thought I was capable of mattering that much to someone. It was just such a foreign idea."
After Kurt manages to pull down Blaine's jeans and underwear, he freezes for a moment, just staring at him. His heart thuds hard against his chest, and he can hear his ragged breath loud in his ears.
"What?" Blaine asks, self-consciously.
"Nothing," Kurt says. "It's just – you're beautiful, Blaine." He leans back down, kissing Blaine roughly. "So – absolutely – beautiful."
"I bet you are, too," Blaine says, grinning lopsidedly. He reaches for Kurt's jeans, taking his turn to admire.
"I didn't think that much of myself – how could someone else think that much of me?"
Kurt thrusts against Blaine, building up the friction and watching Blaine crumble. He watches as Blaine pleads and begs, wanting more. After a minute, Kurt stops, and Blaine peels his eyes open, staring at Kurt with a desperate look on his face.
"I have condoms and lube under the bathroom sink," Kurt says, eyes flickering over to the door that leads to the bathroom branching off from his room. "Do you – do you want - ?"
Kurt laughs, and jumps from the bed, hurrying to go get them.
"You know, sometimes I had trouble just accepting the friendships I had. I always thought – there was no way, no way they all cared about me. I was always so worried about them secretly hating me, talking about me behind my back. You know – let alone a boyfriend."
Kurt takes it slowly, carefully, only moving when Blaine asks for it. It's all a bit clumsy, a bit awkward and painful, but eventually they get to the point where Blaine keeps asking for more, and Kurt moves without hesitation, thrusting in and out of Blaine with eagerness. At last, Blaine comes with a cry, fingers clutching tightly to Kurt's thighs.
A second later, Kurt comes, Blaine's name right on his tongue.
Blaine stares for a long moment, looking at Kurt with utter disbelief.
"So to meet someone like I have. To have someone like that around. Someone who genuinely cares about me, and who – god, who loves me, it's crazy."
"Nothing," Blaine says, voice thick.
"No – what's wrong?" Kurt asks, looking concerned. "Did – did I hurt you?"
"No," Blaine assures, almost laughing. "It's just – sometimes this is all hard for me to believe."
"What is?" Kurt asks, leaning forward on Blaine's chest.
"This. Us," Blaine says with a sigh. "Kurt, I never imagined falling in love. It just wasn't ever in the cards for me. But today, you – you said you loved me, and now we're here in your bed, and – "
Kurt nods, pressing his lips together. "Well, it's true. I, myself – I've had so much trouble with guys in the past. So much heartbreak and pain. I used to doubt it, too. But there's a reason you found me on that bench, Blaine. There's a reason we've made it through all of this."
Blaine can feel the tears stinging his eyes, and his voice cracks when he says, "I love you."
Kurt stretches upward, pressing a soft kiss to Blaine's lips. "I love you, too."
"Kurt's everything to me. And I'm everything to him. And I know everyone's going to say – well, you're in high school; you don't know that yet – but I really think I've found that person. That someone who's going to put me first. I know I put Kurt first. He's just – he's helped me through so much, through everything."
Blaine lets out a small laugh, running a hand through his hair. He looks down at his lap, shaking his head.
"I love Kurt – so much. And honestly, I don't think I'd be here without him."
A/N: Well, that's a wrap. Thank you so much to those who read, reviewed, and gave support to this story. I don't know if I'll be around much anymore, at least not in this fandom - so if you don't see anything more from this account, goodbye. I'd like to think I had a great run - it certainly felt like it, and I have no one to thank but my readers, so thank you.