Title: Keeping the Balance
Warning: deals with issues of consent, homophobia, and memory loss
Summary: They met up once a week, to gather stories and fragments of memories like puzzle pieces. No one recognized the name when Kurt first spoke it–a name he'd found buried somewhere in his dreams–but he couldn't shake the feeling that it was important: "Blaine". Whatever had been taken from them had something to do with Blaine.
A/N: Hello all, and welcome to the sequel to Left Over!You probably need to read that one in order to understand this one, but, if you want to try an experiment and check this out anyway, and then read everything backwards, I certainly won't judge you. Everyone has their own reading habits. ;) For those of you who read Left Over and have a few questions, I've been answering headcannon asks at my tumblr [ sunandrainfic . tumblr . com / tagged / left-over-headcannon ] if you want to check them out (or ask some of your own).
Anyway, without further ado, for there is much too much to be had: the sequel. Enjoy! Comments are always welcome.
Chapter One: Thy Dreams Shall Be Prophets
"I know it."
"Don't. You're only going to get frustrated. Come on, we've only got a few more moments together."
"I know it."
The boy looked at him, carved sad and longing. Kurt squeezed his eyes shut briefly.
"You're not going to remember, Kurt," he heard the boy say softly. "You never remember."
"I'll remember this time." His eyes opened so he could stare at the boy stubbornly. "You know my name. I know I know yours. You've told me it before. Isn't that progress, that I know you've told it to me before?"
The boy was staring at him like he wanted nothing more in the world but to reach out and hold him. Kurt could feel it in the air. He had never been looked at the way this boy looked at him.
No. He had. He had to have—he glanced down at the words stitched into his skin. Someone had loved him, once.
This boy. This boy was the key to finding out who had...
The boy's eyes closed briefly in what looked like resignation.
Kurt's eyes widened suddenly and he straightened triumphantly. "It starts with a—!"
"KURT! Come on, it's not break anymore, you've gotta get up! We'll be late!"
"I'm up! I'm up!" he cried loudly, suddenly, jumping out of the bed before he even realized he was fully awake. Right. Right! School!
Kurt glanced at the clock as his heart beat out the rhythm of a Gershwin musical, trying to hold onto the nearly-invisible vestiges of his dream slipping through his fingers while he dressed. Hair. Dark hair. Orange… Brown eyes? Green. No, blue—
A name, flashing bright and brief for seconds and then—gone. It started with…
Kurt blew out a breath in frustration. It was gone again. He was gone again. He had almost remembered this time, too, he was sure of it. (Kurt, someone whispered)
At least he had a voice. He could recognize and remember a voice. And dark hair—he was positive it was dark hair. He made his way down the stairwell, swimming in his thoughts.
"What's up with you, dude?" Finn asked as he tossed Kurt the keys. Kurt almost missed catching them (he didn't). "You've been oversleeping like crazy lately. Are you sick or something?"
"I'm fine," Kurt said, looking for it—and there, as soon as he stepped off the final step, Finn's eyes flickered past him as if expecting something to be behind him. Just like yesterday. Kurt glanced back up the stairs, knowing nothing was there. "What are you looking at?" he asked, keeping his tone firmly curious and his expression blank.
Finn blinked. "Nothing," he said, looking at Kurt like he was speaking Chinese. "…Seriously, is there something wrong? Because my mom can help if you're feeling sick."
Kurt shook his head, widening his eyes in what he hoped looked like innocence. "I'm fine," he repeated. He added a smile for good measure.
Finn looked at him suspiciously. "Okay," he said slowly. Shouldering his backpack, he headed out the door. "Come on. We're gonna be late."
Kurt narrowed his eyes as he watched his step-brother leave the house.
Okay. Be more careful around Finn. Got it.
Kurt pulled on his coat and followed belatedly to the car, starting the engine and heading to the school.
He saw him in his dreams every night; a ghostly after-image of trailing amber lights, silky smooth voices, and the feeling of being embraced. They were like breaths of fresh air, the only times his mind felt completely and utterly clear. The more he dreamt, the more they met, the more he remembered their meetings when he awoke. He clung to them like life-rafts, inflatable facts he held to tightly as he fought against the tide to remember each moment—to try to discover what he had lost.
Lucid dreaming, is what the internet claimed he was doing. He didn't know if it was real or if it was in his head, but something inside of him knew that whatever they were, the dreams were important. He had taken to sleeping half the day away during winter break, fighting for the morning he would wake up and remember what he looked like—what he sounded like—how he felt.
Who he was.
One day he was going to wake up with a name held tightly in his fists, and he wasn't going to let go until he had memorized every curve of every letter, branding it into his mind to deeply he would never be rid of the scar of it.
Kurt glanced down at the looping edge of a 'y' sewn blue into his veins, tracing the word it formed with his finger. (I love you). An idea feathered lightly over his brain; he wasn't sure if he was remembering something or making it up in his head, but…
Warm hands caressed up his back, back and forth, soothing…
The metallic slam of a locker jolted him from his thoughts, and he tugged his sleeve down, looking up to find Mercedes leaning against his locker with a critical expression on her face.
"Did Puck give you pot?" She asked bluntly.
Kurt gaped. "I… what?"
"You've been acting high all day. And I bet you've been sharing it with Rachel. What is so fascinating about your arm?"
"Nothing," he breathed, feeling his sleeve again to make sure the words were covered. "What—and I haven't been acting high, Mercedes, please," he added scornfully. "You think I'd ruin my voice like that?"
"Don't stiff it 'til you've sniffed it," came Puck's opinion, gone as soon as he appeared.
"That happened, right? That wasn't just me?" he asked Mercedes, looking around the hallway warily. She nodded. "Okay. Just making sure." He picked up his bag and started to walk to lunch, Mercedes following after him. "Wait, what did you mean about Rachel? Is she okay?"
"She's out sick today," Mercedes informed him, and Kurt turned to look at her in surprise.
"Rachel Berry, out sick from school? When's the last time that happened?"
"Sixth grade. She had the measles and her dads made her stay home until she wasn't contagious anymore." Kurt didn't know why he was surprised she knew that.
"Was she all right over break?" He remembered the Tuesday before school let out for the winter, and Rachel's unknowing tears at Tina's song.
They had reached the cafeteria, and Mercedes turned to him seriously. "No one's heard from Rachel since school started," she said quietly. "What is going on with you two?"
Kurt shook his head. "Whatever is bothering her doesn't have anything to do with me, 'Cedes, I haven't talked to her."
"She won't even answer Finn's texts. There's something wrong." Kurt was briefly hurt that Finn hadn't told him anything about this. Then he remembered he hadn't talked to Finn at all over break, least of all about Rachel, and the hurt gave way to confusion. What had he been doing all break? Sleeping?
Had he even talked to Mercedes or Tina?
"You keep turning up to school looking like you're only half here," Mercedes poked him. Kurt made a face, attention once more on her. "Plus, you've been oversleeping, and I've never seen you so lazily-dressed as you are now. Why are both you and Rachel acting all weird if you don't have anything to do with each other?"
"Where did you hear I've been oversleeping?" Kurt asked, affronted, sparing a small glance down at his clothes (they weren't that bad). He followed the motions of picking up a tray, piling something that looked at least a little healthy onto his plate.
Mercedes gave him a look. "Finn told Puck, who told Mike—"
"Who told Tina," Kurt finished with her, slumping resigned into a seat at an empty table.
"You can't tell me it's nothing, Kurt. It's got to be something."
He pushed out his lower jaw, blowing out a breath as he glanced around the cafeteria. Dave Karofsky snagged his gaze with a stare of his own before quickly looking away.
There was something up with that, Kurt noted quietly.
"I'm just sick, 'Cedes," he finally said, toying with the too-soggy carrots on his plate. "Maybe I'm coming down with what Rachel has."
He mashed the orange circles together with his fork until they dissolved into a deformed mountain, pretending to miss the hurt expression flickering across Mercedes' face.
She didn't know someone had been taken from him. She wouldn't understand.
Absently, he began shoveling the soupy peas resting on another section of his tray into the mouth of his newly-formed volcano.
How many more hours of school? Four? And then he had homework and dinner.
At least six hours until he could sleep again. Probably more like eight, if he was being realistic.
Eight hours until dark hair, bright (green?) eyes, and soft voice. One more chance to remember his name.
The words on his skin itched as he thought about it.
"I should stop doing this. This isn't supposed to be an escape, not for either of us."
Kurt studied him intently. Hazel eyes, not green. Beautiful hazel eyes—how could he have forgotten that?
"Why not?" Kurt finally spoke. "This is the only place I get to see you. I've lost you."
The boy's gaze sharpened abruptly before he just as quickly dulled. "You don't even remember who I am," he said quietly, a wry smile tickling his lips.
Kurt leaned forward. "You love me," he said confidently.
The boy met his eyes in hazel-painted surprise.
"You're the one who wrote the words, aren't you?" Kurt continued. "You wrote them in my veins, on my skin. I know it."
"Can you read them?" the boy breathed.
Kurt nodded. "'I love you'," he quoted. "All over me. 'I love you, I love you, I love you'."
The boy reached out, eyes swimming and face shattering, but Kurt tensed as he got too near.
His hand dropped.
"You don't remember," he said. His expression shuttered closed and dark colors carved out his silhouette.
"I remember you have dark hair," Kurt offered apologetically. "When I wake up. I remember your voice. I remember more than I did before."
"I keep trying to tell you, over and over, but you forget it all when you wake up. It's like you're only half here. I don't know what to do."
"Tell me again."
"You won't remember."
"Tell me anyway."
He stood still, painting Kurt with his eyes; soft strokes, tender brushes, warm sweeps. The colors bled into his irises.
"Please don't make me," he said softly.
"All right," he whispered.
He couldn't look away, afraid he might forget the image of the boy in front of him as soon as he turned his head.
"I'll remember this time," he ventured hesitantly. "This time I will."
The boy breathed in.
"…This time," he repeated.
And for the millionth first time, again… Kurt knew his name.