In which Blaine is a ghost who befriends Kurt, who is still alive. Title comes from the song "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out" by The Smiths. Takes place during season 2.
Trigger warnings: Self-harm, character death, mentions of violence/bullying.
I don't own Glee.
Blaine Anderson is seventeen years old when he dies.
Or more specifically, he is seventeen years old when a group of teenage football players from Westerville High School bash his head in with a crowbar and leave him bleeding on the steps of Dalton Academy hours before any of the students or teachers even notice him missing. And by the time they do notice and find him lying there, it's too late.
He watches the paramedics wheel his limp body into the back of an ambulance, he watches his own parents finally agree to pull the plug after he's spent months in a coma, he even watches his own funeral in the little church he remembers from his childhood.
(Honestly, he's not entirely sure he'll ever be able to forget the image of his father wrapping an arm around his mother's shoulder while she cries into a silk handkerchief, and then his mother grabs onto Cooper's hand, and Cooper just stands there, and Cooper never just stands there. He's never going to forgive himself for this, never, never, never.)
It only occurs to him once they're lowering his casket into the ground that he should be looking down on them from above or something, not hiding from behind a tree in the cemetery, watching his mother sob into her hands once again, even though there's no reason to hide, since he's pretty sure they can't see him anyway. He shouldn't still be here, still stuck in the same place that broke him.
He can hear the voice in his head, it's his own voice, shouting, "This isn't right, this is wrong, so wrong wrong wrong." And he just stands there, squeezes his eyes shut and tries to drift away.
This isn't how it's supposed to be.
He's still seventeen, perpetually seventeen, when he sees Kurt Hummel for the first time.
He's been wandering around the same cemetery for God knows how long, and if feels like it's been maybe years, or maybe only hours, but in reality it's only been a few weeks. He sometimes drifts off to different places outside of the cemetery, each time desperately hoping to find something or someone he knows.
All of it is familiar, so heartrendingly familiar, but he can't for the life of him figure out where he is most of the time, or why he feels like he's been there before. Nobody ever sees him. So he comes back to the cemetery.
But this time he's not alone.
Just a few feet away, there's a little boy in a clean, button-up shirt, and one of his hands is clutching tightly to a bouquet of white lilies while this other hand grasps his father's. He can't be more than seven or eight, and Blaine smiles a little at the boy's tiny bow tie and impeccably styled hair. (Blaine almost envies him- he's never really been able to tame his own.)
He leans up behind a tree, craning his neck and peeking out just barely, just to watch. It feels like it might be a strange thing to do, or it should, but in a way it's not, because he feels some sort of sympathy for this little boy, and he's not supposed to feel anything at all anymore.
The boy lays the flowers down on a lone gravestone, wipes at his eyes, and he lets his father tug him away, and Blaine wonders to himself, what if it's his mother's?
He's almost certain it is, it must be, and he steps out from behind the tree to watch the boy and his father walk away. He feels his heart twinge painfully in his chest, because dying is hard, dying but still being is harder, but he's convinced that losing must be hardest of all, and he's never felt it himself, not really.
He watches their backs as they keep walking, and he's about to walk away himself, but then the boy turns his head around, and for just a split second, Blaine is almost certain that he saw him too.
Really saw him. Not just looked in his direction, but truly, actually saw him standing there alone amongst gravestones.
The boy looks his way a few seconds longer, cocks his head to the side thoughtfully, and then turns his head back around.
Blaine darts back behind the tree and sinks down to the ground against it. It's improbable, maybe even impossible, but Blaine still lets himself believe for just a second that the little boy actually saw him.
Just to let himself believe it's possible for him to not be alone.
It's not the last time Blaine sees him in the cemetery. It's far from the last time.
Blaine still lurks around, sometimes visiting the graves of strangers, but not once plucking up the courage to go see his own. He tries to imagine their own lives- who were they, what did they do, how did they die? Who did they love, who loved them in return?
It might be morbid and strange to be so intrigued with the lives of the dead, but, well, he's dead.
He wanders around town, visits old shops and restaurants and wonders if it's even possible for him to drink coffee anymore. Probably not.
It's the same thing every day, always him not quite existing, always wondering what he's still doing here and what he has to do to get away.
The boy- Kurt, as Blaine finds out eventually while listening in on his quiet conversations with his father- still visits the same grave once a week or so with his father, even as he grows older. But then he starts visiting alone, and he must be sixteen already if he's driving himself.
Blaine almost can't believe it's been that long. (But then again, he can, because it seems like he's spent a lifetime here. Or an after-lifetime.)
He listens to Kurt sometimes, always hiding behind that same tree, and he knows for sure now that Kurt's mother is the one buried in the ground. Kurt talks to her, and his voice is light and airy and bird-like.
It's the most beautiful thing Blaine has ever heard, even before he died.
He starts looking forward to Kurt's visits, hearing his soft voice as he talks to his mother about his day, the same way you'd talk to anyone about your day.
There's something incredible about it, and Blaine feels horrible eavesdropping in on him, but what else can he do, what else does he have but this?
He always hides, just in case Kurt can see him, and he knows Kurt probably wouldn't like to see a strange boy watching him in a cemetery. (It always sounds worse when he says it out loud.)
Still, he has nowhere else to be. He's been here for eight years already, and he might be here for the next eight, and the eight after that, so he might as well have this one good thing, this one boy he's never met or spoken to, but somehow can't stop listening to or thinking about.
He wants desperately to know him.
"I can see you, you know," Kurt says, kneeling at his mother's grave with his head bowed, while Blaine peeks out from behind the thick tree trunk. "You're not as mysterious and elusive as you think."
Blaine comes out from behind his hiding spot completely, at a loss for words. What exactly can he say now that he knows for sure that Kurt can see him and Kurt is talking to him?
He gapes for a moment, then says, "I, uh, didn't realize I was being that elusive."
"Oh? So you just hide behind trees for fun, then?" Kurt raises his head and quirks an eyebrow, and the only thing Blaine can think is his eyes are so gorgeous.
He struggles for words a while longer before stuttering out, "W-well, it's sort of, um, hard to explain, and-"
"It can't be that hard," Kurt reasons, crossing his arms over his chest with a sour look on his face.
Blaine is silent.
Kurt's eyes soften suddenly.
"Are you dead?"
Blaine doesn't answer him.
"You are, aren't you?" Blaine wishes his voice wasn't so pitying already.
He shuts his eyes. "How could you tell?"
"You don't really look lively," Kurt admits. "Plus, not everyone spends all their time wandering around cemeteries. Every time I'm here, you're ten feet away."
"How do you know I'm not a mourner? Like you?" Blaine suggests. (He doesn't mention that Kurt is here quite often for a living teenager. That would probably be rude.)
Kurt scoffs. "Mourners mourn, they don't watch boys from behind trees." Kurt's voice is softer and quieter when he continues. "Besides, you look exactly the same as you did when I was eight years old. You haven't aged a day, and it's been almost nine years."
Blaine smiles a little, because Kurt did see him that day. He knew it, he knew it, he knew it.
"I'm sorry for watching you," he says genuinely. "But...you're the only person who can see me, as far as I know, and I guess I sort of latched onto that." His voice is almost a whisper when he says, "I felt connected to you somehow. I'm sorry. For not respecting your privacy."
They're both silent again, until Kurt asks, "Am I really the only person who can see you?" Blaine nods solemnly.
Kurt smiles. "I guess that's pretty special."
Blaine could cry.
"I'm Blaine," he says, for lack of better words.
They meet again. They meet several more times, and one warm evening Kurt approaches him with an outstretched hand and says to him, "I think we should be friends."
Blaine takes his hand and shakes it, an agreement to be Kurt's friend. "That was easy," he comments with a smirk.
Kurt nods. "Easy is good, sometimes."
They start up a routine, where Kurt visits once a week, speaks to his mom, and then he turns his attention to Blaine for the night. He tells him about his day, and Blaine nods and smiles at appropriate intervals. He doesn't ever say much, he likes to listen, and Kurt seems perfectly content to do the talking.
But eventually Kurt comments on Blaine's silence, and he just shrugs and says, "I don't have much to say. I don't do anything."
"Well, that's okay," Kurt says. "Just say whatever you think." And then Kurt looks at him expectantly, and oh, he means now.
Blaine doesn't have to think about it when he says, "I like spending time with you."
Kurt grins at him sweetly. "Good. 'Cause you're not getting rid of me any time soon."
It's almost like having a best friend again. Kurt doesn't even seem to mind that he's dead.
"I've been thinking," Kurt says, walking straight up to Blaine from his car, "and what really I want to know is what you are."
"What I am?" Blaine asks, his brow furrowing.
"Well, yeah. I mean, you're dead," he says, a little too bluntly, "but you're still, you know," he gestures with his hands, "here. I don't think that's typical."
Kurt thinks for a second. "Are you a ghost?"
Blaine shrugs. "Maybe," he says skeptically. "I don't know if I believe in ghosts." He considers the other options. "Can't I be an angel instead?"
Kurt shakes his head. "I don't know if I believe in angels."
Neither of them say anything else for a long time, and Blaine is the first to speak up.
"I don't really have to be anything." He's not sure if that's true either, but it's definitely easier, and sometimes easy is good.
Kurt nods. "You're right. Just be Blaine. That's all you really need."
(It's not all he needs, but it's good for now.)
"Aren't you scared of me?" Blaine asks the next time he sees Kurt.
Kurt looks confused. "Not really...should I be?"
"Well, most people would be afraid if they started seeing an undead ghost-angel-thingy."
"How eloquent, Blaine."
"I mean it. Why aren't you more...weirded out by this?" Especially since I practically stalked you from behind a tree, he adds to himself. He sits himself down next to Kurt in the grass.
"I hate to break it to you, Blaine," Kurt tells him, "but you're not that intimidating."
He giggles, and Blaine laughs, and neither of them know why, but it's nice anyway.
(It's getting harder to pretend he's not falling for Kurt.)
"Why don't you ever leave here?" Kurt asks him. Blaine cocks his head to the side quizzically. Kurt elaborates. "You're always right here in the same spot, behind the same tree in the same cemetery. Why do you stay?"
Blaine considers it and then shrugs. "I have nowhere else to go."
"So you've just been sitting in the same graveyard for almost a decade?" Blaine nods sheepishly. "But isn't there anywhere you want to go? Or wanted to go?" Kurt asks. "You can probably go anywhere, right?"
It's mostly true. Blaine doesn't sleep, he doesn't even get tired, and he has nothing to do. Time is no object to him. He could walk for miles on end to get to wherever he needed, and yet...
"I suppose." Blaine kicks at some gravel. "Problem is I can't think of anywhere I wanted to go. I can't remember lots of things," he whispers.
"Why do you think that is?" Kurt asks.
"You know, that's a really good question that I really don't know the answer to," he snaps, then softens when Kurt winces. "I'm not even supposed to be here at all," he mumbles.
"I dunno," Kurt says, standing from his spot on the ground to move over towards Blaine, "maybe you are."
"Really? What for, then?" Blaine asks him, tipping his head back to rest against the tree trunk.
Kurt leans next to Blaine, their shoulders almost touching. "That's probably something you have to figure out by yourself."
Blaine is beginning to wonder if it's even possible to fall in love after life.
(He sort of hopes it is.)
It's autumn now, and Kurt has stopped visiting.
Blaine waits for him, he always comes, every Wednesday. Blaine thinks that maybe he was busy the first time, maybe even the second, but this is the third week in a row Kurt hasn't visited.
He tries not to think about it too much, but he can't help but get the feeling that something is wrong.
His mind is going wild with fear, like what if there was an accident, what if he's hurt, what if someone else is hurt, what if he's, oh god, what if he's dead-
But he's not. He can't be.
The worst part is that there's nothing Blaine can do about it. Nothing he can do he's helpless, hopeless, he's dead and the only person who could see him doesn't come around anymore, and something's wrong.
He waits, and he waits, and he waits, and when he gets tired of waiting, he wanders.
He paces around town, peering through shop windows for any sign of Kurt, but he really has nothing to go on. School hours are over by now, and as far as Blaine can tell, Kurt isn't at the Lima Bean or any of the places he's mentioned in passing, and Blaine certainly doesn't know where he lives.
He wonders if he's being too possessive or something, but he just can't stop worrying.
After hours of walking, he finds himself in front of the Lima Hospital.
He takes a deep breath, and the next thing he knows, he's wandering the halls, running up and down stairs and slipping into elevators, until he finally finds Kurt.
Kurt's not the one in the hospital (thank God). Instead, he's sitting in a chair beside a hospital bed, his head bowed as he holds his father's hand.
He peers in through the doorway, torn between leaving Kurt alone with his father and just rushing towards him and holding him in his arms.
(Is it possible to hold him?)
But really, he's stolen enough privacy from him anyway.
He turns away before Kurt can see him, content just knowing that Kurt is safe, though he knows that doesn't necessarily mean he's okay.
He doesn't go back to the cemetery that night. It just doesn't seem right for him to now, it feels wrong to spend all his time sulking in a graveyard alone.
(Alone meaning without Kurt.)
Besides, Kurt was right. He can go anywhere he wants now.
So for the first time since he died, he actually sees the rest of the world he's missed out on for all this time.
He watches the kids play in the park, watches the pigeons hop on the concrete, watches the sun dim and the streetlights brighten.
He goes home.
He peers in through the window to the family room, and not much has changed, except everything has changed. Just this, just the visual, is enough to jog his memory, at least a little bit. He can almost remember what things were like before.
His dad is reading by the fire, he always did that a lot, and his mom is plunking out a tune on their upright piano. If he strains his ears just slightly, he can almost hear it.
But the song is quiet and slow, and the piano hasn't been tuned in a while, and his mother looks too bothered to play with both hands, so she pecks at keys with her right until she gives up completely.
His father hasn't turned the page in almost five minutes.
Blaine throws himself down in the grass and weeps into his mother's hydrangeas until he can hardly think anything anymore.
(Except that he's sorry. He's always sorry.)
By the time he gets up, it's daylight, probably already the afternoon. He would be sore from sitting hunched over for so long, but that's one of the perks of being undead.
He's not sure where to go today, either, but he does know he's not going to sit in his mother's garden all day. He brushes his pants off with his hands and rubs at his eyes, now red-rimmed and raw.
He doesn't look back at the house as he walks away.
He meanders around a while longer, climbs a few trees, picks a flower for no one in particular, leans over the edge of a bridge to stare down at the crystal water.
He used to yearn for this sort of free time- now he doesn't know what to do with himself.
He still sometimes wishes he wasn't here. He actually wants to be in heaven or some sort of afterlife sometimes, but he's spent so much time being dead on Earth, he's terrified of what that might be like, that it might not be everything he's hoped for.
He's reached an impasse with himself, and he's too scared to do anything about it.
(Coward, he thinks.)
He shakes his head, runs his hands through his hair, and suddenly starts off sprinting down the street, back in the direction of Lima Hospital.
He tries to remember what floor Kurt's father is on, he really does, but he ends up searching for nearly an hour anyway. And once he finally finds the right room, Kurt isn't there.
He groans and leans against the door frame. He hadn't considered that Kurt might not be here at all, and now he just feels foolish and impulsive.
He whips his head up to see Kurt standing just outside in the hallway, a paper cup of water in his hand. His hair is disheveled, like he's been running his fingers through it, and there are dark circles underneath his eyes.
He looks so small, and Blaine feels that same compulsion to take him in his arms.
(He doesn't, but he wants to.)
"Hey," he says lamely.
"What are you doing here?" Kurt asks, his arms crossed firmly over his chest.
"I was worried about you," Blaine says, taking a step closer to him.
Kurt brushes past him into his dad's hospital room. "I'm fine," he says dismissively.
"Are you?" Blaine asks, staying put.
Kurt doesn't look at him when he says, "Yes. I'm fine."
"What happened?" he asks, gesturing to Kurt's dad lying in the hospital bed. "I mean...yeah. What happened to him?"
Kurt pulls his sleeves down over his thumbs and crosses his arms again. "He had a heart attack, and now he's in a coma," he says bluntly.
Blaine gapes. "I am so sorry..."
"Thank you," Kurt says.
"I wish there was something I could do," he says.
"It's not your problem, you don't have to do anything. You've already helped a bit."
"How?" Blaine asks incredulously.
"Yours was the best reaction I've had all day."
Blaine's brow furrows in confusion. "How did other people react?"
Kurt sighs and lowers himself into a chair. "It's just...apparently when you tell people, 'I don't want your prayers,' it's actually code for, 'Please come pray for my father at the hospital against my own wishes and religious beliefs.'"
Blaine feels irritation bubble up in him, and he rolls his eyes. "That must have been infuriating."
Kurt laughs humorlessly. "You don't know the half of it." His gaze drops down to where his hand and his father's are joined.
It's not fair that this is happening to him. It's not fair that Kurt has already lost his mother and is so close to losing his father, too. It's not fair that life is so horrible to someone so wonderful.
(Life isn't fair, supplies the voice in Blaine's head that sounds an awful lot like his father. Sometimes it's just less unfair to some than others. Blaine wishes life was less unfair to Kurt. And also himself.)
Before he realizes what he's doing, he's striding across the room purposefully and pulling Kurt out of his sitting position and into his arms. He feels Kurt tense in his arms, and then he exhales shakily and fists his hands in Blaine's shirt, nuzzling his face in the crook of Blaine's neck.
He can't really feel him all that much. Senses and sensations are dulled when you're dead, but he thinks that if he holds Kurt tight enough, he can almost feel the softness of his sweater or his hair against Blaine's cheek. Almost.
Kurt pulls back and wipes at his eyes with the sleeve of his sweater. "Thanks," he murmurs. Blaine only nods.
He walks Kurt to his car later in the night, squeezes his shoulder sympathetically, and then asks if he can check up on him once and a while.
Kurt nods. "Sure. I'll be here every night until he gets better."
(Blaine's heart clenches a little bit, just because he can tell it's not a guarantee that Kurt's dad will get better.)
They say goodnight, and Kurt drives away, and Blaine goes back to the cemetery, wishing he would've asked to come home with Kurt instead.
"He woke up," Kurt says, smiling wide as he runs to Blaine. His hair is windblown, his car is parked haphazardly next to the curb, and his cheeks are rosy when he smiles and says breathlessly, "My dad woke up."
"Really?" Blaine asks, and Kurt nods his head vigorously.
"Yeah, just last night," he says, coming to a stop in front of Blaine. "Carole's with him right now. He nearly had to force me to leave him, but I eventually did, and I just had to come tell you first."
"Really?" Blaine asks a little incredulously. "Why me?"
Kurt ducks his head bashfully and says, "I, uh, I just really appreciated what you did for me."
Blaine tries to think back to the other night when he went to the hospital, then nods in recognition. "Wait, but I only gave you a hug."
"Exactly," Kurt says with a smile. "I needed that more than I needed everybody else's prayers and songs. You didn't even try to give me some inspirational speech," he laughs, "or try to make me happier than I was capable of. You were just there. So thank you."
Kurt wraps his arms around Blaine's neck then, and Blaine thinks this must be quite a sight to anyone else who might pass by, but nobody would dare judge a lonely boy in a cemetery. He holds on tight to Kurt waist and whispers, "You're welcome. Anytime."
"I remembered something the other day," Kurt says. They're walking down the sidewalk together. It's getting colder, so Kurt is bundled up in a sweater and one of his designer scarves. Their hands swing side by side, occasionally brushing, though neither of them grab the other boy's hand.
"What did you remember?" he asks.
"Well," he begins, "I've always heard that the reasons ghosts are, well, ghosts is because they have some sort of unfinished business in their lifetime. And I was thinking, if you are a ghost-"
"Which has neither been confirmed nor denied," Blaine interjects.
"-then maybe if we figured out what your unfinished business was, you'd be able to...you know, 'move on,'" Kurt explains.
"Right, but how would I go about said unfinished business?"
"Well, I could help you," Kurt says, like it's the simplest thing in the world.
"You'd help me finish my unfinished business?" he asks.
"Of course I would!" Kurt says, like he's outraged that Blaine would ever doubt him.
He smiles. "Thanks. That actually means a lot," he says, nudging Kurt's shoulder with his own affectionately. "But don't worry about it." When Kurt's face falls slightly, he scrambles to explain, "Just because we don't know for sure that that's how it works. It's probably easier said than done, anyways." Kurt nods in agreement.
"I just wanted to help," he whispers, almost to himself.
"Hey," Blaine says, "come on. You are helping, just by even letting me talk to you."
"I like talking to you," Kurt says. "I like you."
I like you, Blaine thinks. More than you'll ever know.
"Good," he says instead. "I'll probably be around a long time."
They both chuckle, but the words sit on his tongue a little too bitterly, and Kurt's forehead is all scrunched up like he's thinking too hard, and Blaine wonders if that was completely the wrong thing to say.
"Blaine?" Kurt says, walking up to Blaine slowly with his hands in his pockets. His jaw is clenched and his brow is furrowed, and his voice is shaky.
"What is it? Is everything okay?" he asks.
"Um...well, no. No, not really."
Blaine frowns. "Do you want to talk about it?"
Kurt looks about ready to say no and turn right back around, but then he nods a little hesitantly and says, "Can we go somewhere else? Can we go to my house?"
Blaine's eyes widen in surprise. He's never been invited anywhere by Kurt before. "Yeah, sure. Of course."
"Great. Come on, I'll drive."
He gets in the passenger seat, hoping nobody notices the car door opening on its own, and Kurt turns the key in the ignition and clutches the steering wheel like a lifeline.
Kurt keeps his eyes focused on the road the entire trip, but all Blaine can look at is the uneasiness in Kurt's eyes and how stiff his body is. His knuckles are white as they curl around the steering wheel, and Blaine has to abstain from grabbing the hand closest to him and holding it between his own.
Kurt pulls into his driveway and rushes around to open Blaine's door. He's about to comment on Kurt's chivalry, only to realize that he probably just doesn't want the nosy neighbors to see a door open by itself.
"Nobody else is home," Kurt says, "So we can talk without me having to make up any absurd lies about why I'm talking alone in my room."
Kurt's room is exactly how Blaine had imagined it- tastefully decorated and up to date with the latest fashions in interior design, not that Blaine would know much about any of that anymore.
Kurt gestures to his bed with one hand, and Blaine perches carefully on the edge. Kurt stands in front of him, chewing on his thumbnail anxiously.
Blaine breaks the silence carefully. "What exactly happened?"
Kurt takes a deep breath. "Okay. Do you remember when I told you about Karofsky?"
Blaine did. Kurt had confessed to him a few days ago about his worst tormentor at school, and Blaine had clenched his fists and counted to ten to keep calm, and then he had told Kurt to stand up for himself. "Prejudice is just ignorance," he had said.
"Of course. Why?" He looks over Kurt. "Did he hurt you?"
Kurt exhales shakily. "He kissed me."
Blaine can't help but feel that this is somehow all his fault.
It's getting to be late November now, almost December, with the days getting colder and darker, and Blaine and Kurt start spending less and less time outside in the cemetery and more time in Kurt's bedroom.
They sit with their heads close together and speak in hushed voices. Blaine is starting to feel more and more like Kurt's dirty little secret, but he secretly loves that Kurt is the only one who knows about him. There's a strange intimacy to it, knowing that they share so much together that nobody else will ever get to share with Blaine.
(Maybe he's just crazy, pathetically in love with this boy.)
They're beginning to have less and less time together, now that Burt and Carole are married and there are now twice as many people living in Kurt's house, things have gotten sort of hectic.
Kurt is constantly apologizing for declining Blaine's offers to hang out more often than before, but Blaine insists that he understands. And he does. Kurt has other important people in his life.
(People more important than you, says the voice in Blaine's head that sounds an awful lot like the bullies at Sadie Hawkins.)
And Blaine tries hard, really hard, to not feel rejected or worthless, because he knows he's not, not quiet, but it's difficult when his friend (only friend, best friend, companion, love of his life) won't talk to him anymore. And it's not that Kurt isn't speaking to him anymore, he's just not really saying anything.
Still, Blaine relishes the time they spend together now. He's not taking it for granted, because there's so much less of it now, and it's not quite the same.
Like right now, Kurt is sitting on his bed with his legs tucked underneath him, and Blaine is resting against the headboard, watching as Kurt furrows his brow in concentration at his homework.
Blaine traces over Kurt's face with his eyes, down the curve of his jawline to his lips, wrapped around the end of his pen as he nibbles on it thoughtfully. He studies Kurt's face for a long time, looking for any sign of discontent in his expression, but he finds nothing at all, just blankness.
Blaine knows the signs of depression, and while Kurt's are mild and infrequent, he can't help but worry. He cares too much to not worry.
"Is everything alright?" he finally asks.
Kurt looks up at him briefly. "Yeah. Everything's fine."
Blaine raises an eyebrow skeptically. "Are you sure?"
"Is there anything you wanna talk about?"
Kurt doesn't look up at him when he says, "No, there isn't, and yes, I'm sure, now can you please let it go?"
Blaine is taken aback. Kurt has never snapped at him like that.
Kurt takes a deep breath. "I'm sorry," he says, reaching over tentatively to cover Blaine's hand with his own. "I'm sorry," he says again.
"It's fine," Blaine says, rubbing his shoulder comfortingly. "Sorry for pushing you."
"Don't be sorry," Kurt says, pulling his hand away from Blaine's and dropping it in his lap. "You're just looking out for me." He tugs his sleeves down over his thumbs and scribbles something in his notes.
Blaine stretches his legs out on the bed and props his head up against the headboard. He folds his hands over his stomach and watches Kurt chew on his thumbnail and pretend to read his history book, but not actually turn any pages for twenty minutes.
Blaine starts humming softly to himself until Kurt shuts his book and lies down next to Blaine, his nose just barely nudging Blaine's shoulder as his breathing slows to a steady rhythm and he's falling asleep.
Blaine brushes Kurt's bangs back from his forehead, and then he's lifting himself off the bed carefully, tiptoeing out of his room, but not without one last anxious look at Kurt's sleeping form.
He's going to have to find a different approach next time.
He wishes Kurt would talk to him.
"How is the unfinished business going?" Kurt asks him the next night when they're together, Kurt doing his moisturizing routine at his vanity while Blaine sprawls out on his stomach in Kurt's bed. He turns his head on his side, resting it on his arm, and watches Kurt push his hair back from his forehead and begin exfoliating.
"Oh, just wonderful," he says. "Today I made amends with all my former enemies, and I rescued a puppy from an animal shelter."
"It was a simple question. You could have answered simply," Kurt replies. "And yet, you chose to answer snarkily."
"Yeah, well, I just didn't want to admit that I have no idea what I'm doing."
Kurt looks at him sympathetically as he rubs some sort of cream over his nose. "I know, I know," he says softly. "Nobody said being dead was going to be easy," he adds a little quieter.
"I just..." he trails off, resting his chin in his hands. "I can't think of any unfinished business I might have had, and I really don't know how I'm supposed to finish it now." He buries his face in Kurt's pillow. "What's the point in trying anymore?"
"What's the point in anything anymore?" Kurt mumbles quietly.
"What was that?" Blaine asks, lifting his head.
"Nothing," Kurt says dismissively. "Just talking to myself." He pushes himself away from his vanity, all of his skin-care products lined up neatly, and he turns to Blaine and says, "Do you plan on getting out of my bed anytime soon?"
Blaine shrugs. "I dunno. Should I?"
"That depends," Kurt replies, "on where you plan on staying tonight. I, for one, do not plan on you sleeping in my bed." He yawns, stretching his arms high above his head, making his shirt ride up and his sleeves fall down loosely around his forearms, and that's when Blaine notices it.
"What is that?" he asks.
"What is what?" Kurt asks, raising an eyebrow.
"That," Blaine says, gesturing pointedly to Kurt's wrist.
The one with a bandage wrapped around it tightly.
Kurt's mouth falls open a little when he looks at it himself, and then he tugs his sleeve down and says defensively, "It's nothing."
"It's not nothing," Blaine says, pushing himself up off of Kurt's bed and moving closer to Kurt. Kurt stares pointedly at the wall, but Blaine grasps his hand, and Kurt looks down at their fingers wrapped around each other.
"Now tell me what happened," he says, his voice a bit harsher and more demanding than before. Kurt's eyes are glassy, but not in their usual sparkling sort of way.
"It's not important-"
"Tell me!" he nearly screams.
Kurt folds in on himself, wrapping his arms around his torso and touching his chin to his chest as his face scrunches up and tears roll freely down his face.
"Oh, God," Blaine says quietly. "Please don't cry, come on." He moves closer to Kurt, tentatively touching Kurt's shoulder. Kurt flinches a little at the touch.
"I'm sorry," he whispers quietly, so soft that Blaine's not sure if it was meant for him to hear.
"It's okay," Blaine says, even though it's not. It's not okay, not in the least, nothing, absolutely nothing is okay. But he just wants Kurt to stop crying. "It's okay."
Kurt tries to speak through his sobs. "I just-just felt like..." He trails off, hiccuping violently, and Blaine brings up one hand to cup his face and stroke over his damp skin with his thumbs.
"Breathe," he says as calmly as possible, which is still panicky and tense. "Deep breaths, please, Kurt. Calm down."
He lets out a shuddering breath, leaning his cheek into Blaine's palm almost unconsciously. "I'm sorry," he whispers again.
"When?" Blaine asks. Why? he wants to ask.
Kurt just shakes his head, squeezes his eyes shut. "Please tell me?" Blaine pleads with him, holding Kurt's head in both hands and forcing him to make eye contact with him.
Kurt sniffles. "Last week," he rasps, and Blaine's eyes dart back to the bandage. He wonders how deep it is, if it'll take very long to heal up. He wonders if Kurt's at least cleaned it or changed the bandage, because the last thing he needs is an infection. He reminds himself of his mother, and he would laugh if he wasn't so close to tears.
Kurt seems to read his mind. "I've only changed the bandage once," he admits, wiping at his eyes furiously with his right hand. "I can't stand to look at it. Makes me feel as miserable as I was when I did it."
"Why did you do it?" Blaine asks, and Kurt avoids his gaze pointedly. "Please. I have to know." I want to help.
A fresh wave of tears hits Kurt, and Blaine tugs him into his arms. He presses one hand to Kurt's back protectively and wraps the other snug around his waist. Kurt rests his chin on Blaine's shoulder so he can still speak.
"I heard it's supposed to relieve stress. Endorphins and such, " he says shakily. "I was feeling stressed out." He's silent for another moment, then exhales heavily. "That's not really it, though." He pulls back from Blaine and crosses behind him to sit on the edge of his bed. He stares down at his hands in his lap. A tear rolls down his nose.
"What is it, then?"
He sighs. "I am just so sick of him controlling my life," Kurt whispers. Blaine doesn't have to ask who him is.
"What do you mean? He doesn't control your life," Blaine says, settling next to Kurt on the bed.
"But he does!" Kurt snaps. "I'm wasting all of my time planning my life around him! How to avoid him, what to do if I can't avoid him. How to hide the bruises from my dad," he adds in a whisper. He drops his head into his hands. "I was sick of him hurting me and controlling me. Now hurting myself? I could control that."
Blaine opens his mouth to speak, but Kurt cuts him off. "I know that it seems like a stupid reason, and it probably is, but..." he trails off. His voice is thick when he says, "I just needed someone to notice."
Blaine puts one hand on Kurt's shoulder and runs the other through his hair. He squeezes his eyes to blink away tears, and asks, "Are you going to tell your dad?"
"I don't know, Blaine," Kurt says, dabbing at his eyes with his sleeves.
"Are you going to do it again?" he asks, wrapping one hand gingerly around Kurt's wrist.
"I don't know, Blaine."
"Were you going to..." He trails off, there's something caught in his throat, something huge and dry and ugly, and he doesn't want to say it, but he does anyway.
"Were you going to kill yourself?" he whispers.
"I don't know, Blaine!" Kurt says, pulling his knees up to his chest and curling his arms around them. He presses his face into the fabric of his pajama bottoms. "I don't know," he says, his voice muffled.
Blaine unwraps his hand from around Kurt's wrist, leans in close, and says, "Please don't."
He doesn't know what else to say. He can't think of any way he could possibly make Kurt understand that what he really needs to say is please don't hurt yourself, I love you, I need you, I can't possibly do this without you.
He doesn't even want to think about the fact that his greatest fear is Kurt dying and moving on without him.
So he wraps his arms around Kurt's shoulders, rests his head on top of Kurt's, and hopes that he'll relax into his arms. Kurt sits there, stiff as a board, until finally something snaps and he melts into Blaine's embrace, turning to hook his chin over Blaine's shoulder, pressing their cheeks together and whispering, like a mantra, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry."
Blaine shushes him softly, strokes his hair and asks, "Do you want me to go?"
Kurt shakes his head, says frantically, "No! Please don't go, please stay here with me tonight."
"Okay. Of course." Blaine nods and pulls them both down, stretching out in Kurt's bed and letting Kurt rest his head on top of his chest. He whispers for Kurt to close his eyes and sleep.
He feels Kurt's breathing slow, watches his eyelashes flutter against his cheeks, and he wipes away some of the dried tears from Kurt's cheeks. He kisses his hair, now drooping down over his forehead. He looks so small and fragile in sleep, and Blaine simultaneously despises it and thinks he will never see anything so precious ever again.
"I think you're my unfinished business," he whispers, but Kurt's already fast asleep.
It's December, a light layer of snow coating the ground, crunching beneath Kurt's feet as he navigates his way through the cemetery to Blaine's tree. His cheeks are rosier than they were when Blaine last saw him, though Blaine can't quite tell if that has to do with Kurt's health and happiness or the cold weather.
Kurt wraps his arms around himself, rubbing his hands up and down his arms to keep warm. Blaine smiles at him and beckons him over with his hand. Kurt stares down at his feet while he steps closer to Blaine, turning and leaning against the tree so that their shoulders are almost touching.
Blaine is just inches away from grasping Kurt's hand in his, but Kurt's voice startles him.
"I told my dad." His face is passive, unreadable.
"What did he say?" Blaine asks.
Kurt's eyebrows knit together. "Nothing at first. He just sort of...looked at me."
"And then, he, uh..." Kurt trails off, brushing a hand through his hair. He makes a breathless sound that's almost like a laugh when he says, "And he started to cry. My dad started to cry. It was weird, I don't think I've seen him cry in years." He lets out a sigh.
"Did he say anything after that?" Blaine asks, twisting his body so that he's staring at Kurt's profile.
Kurt nods. "He told me he was sorry for not realizing sooner, or something like that. I was sort of shocked, honestly. I expected him to tell me he was disappointed in me or something." He exhales shakily. "I might have preferred that, actually."
"And now what?" Blaine asks, leaning in a little closer.
"Well, now I'm going to talk to someone. A counselor, or something. I'm thinking of transferring schools."
"Good," Blaine says with a smile. "That's good. I just want you to be okay."
Kurt half-smiles. "I will be."
Kurt stares down at his shoes then and blows hot air into his hands to warm them up. Blaine thinks that if he concentrates hard enough that he might be able feel the frosty air too, that he could reach over and grab Kurt's hand, lace their fingers together, and feel their shared warmth.
He can't. But he grabs Kurt's hand anyway and says, "I want to do something. I want you to come with me."
Kurt nods, says, "Okay," with a little smile, and follows behind Blaine as they trek across the frostbitten ground to the other side of the cemetery, the side Blaine hasn't dared to visit in years.
It takes him a few minutes to find what he's looking for, but when he finally does, he takes a shuddering deep breath and pulls Kurt close to him, gesturing to the headstone that reads:
September 17, 1984 - October 6, 2001
Beloved Son, Brother, and Friend
He's never looked at it. In the nine years since he died, since he resigned himself to an afterlife as a graveyard spirit, he's never once looked at his own headstone. He doesn't know if that's unusual or not, though.
He squeezes Kurt's hand and closes his eyes, and he wishes it was possible for him to take deep breaths. He stands absolutely still for a few moments, until he hears Kurt let out a whimper-y sort of sigh.
When he opens his eyes and turns his head to look he Kurt, he sees that Kurt is still staring at the headstone. His eyes are glassy when he finally makes eye contact with Blaine and says, "You died the same day as my mom. Explains a lot."
And with that, he throws his arms around Blaine's neck and kisses him. Really kisses him, tender and desperate and so sweet. Blaine can feel the light pressure of Kurt's lips against his, and he can almost, almost (so close) feel the soft fullness of them, too. He rests his hands carefully on Kurt's waist, and wonders what it really feels like to kiss someone.
This is the closest he'll ever get to feeling a kiss, and it's really not much. But at the same time, whether he can really feel it or not, he can feel Kurt, it's everything. It's absolutely everything.
Kurt pulls back and wraps his arms even tighter around Blaine's shoulders. He whispers into his neck, "Thank you."
"For what?" Blaine asks.
"For being here," he says, and presses a kiss behind Blaine's ear.
They almost make it to Christmas.
It's December 19th. It's late at night and Kurt is really close to missing his curfew, and the last thing he needs is to give his dad another reason to worry about him constantly. There are shopping bags in the backseat from their trip to the mall where Kurt had spent probably a little too much money on presents, and they hadn't even been able to talk the entire time, but Blaine hadn't minded.
Kurt is driving a little faster than usual, and Blaine is sitting in the passenger seat, singing along to the radio and holding Kurt's hand. He babbles on about the little things he remembers from his childhood Christmases. Like with everything else, he doesn't remember the details, but he assures Kurt that they were special. He knows they were special.
Kurt smiles at him sweetly. He stares at Kurt's profile as he squints at the road and changes lanes quickly.
Neither of them see the ice.
There's wild spinning, and there's screaming, and bright lights standing out against the night sky, and then there's an abrupt stop and the sound of something shattering, and then suddenly there's so much blood.
It's all over everything, the leather seats, the windshield, or at least what's left of the windshield, because there's broken glass everywhere too, but not as much as the blood. It's not his blood, it can't be his blood, and if it's not his blood...
He whips his head around and his eyes find Kurt crumpled in the passenger seat like a rag doll, but with his hair falling in his face and the side of his face stained crimson.
He hears the sound of sirens in the distance, getting louder and closer every second, but he scrambles over the divide and holds Kurt's face between his hands. His entire face is contorted in pain, his eyes squeezed shut.
"Oh, god," Blaine says, stroking his thumbs over Kurt's cheeks. "Oh, Kurt, oh, god-"
"Shh," Kurt interrupts.
"I'm sorry, you'll be fine, they're coming, they'll help you-"
"It's okay," Kurt says weakly, his forehead scrunched up in pain. How can he say that? How can he say that it's okay when they're lying on the side of the road, and there's shattered glass in his hair, and there's blood everywhere, and how can so much blood come from one little person? It can't all be his, it just can't.
"I am so sorry," Blaine babbles.
"Don't be," Kurt whispers, covering the hand on his cheek with his own.
But I'm supposed to protect you, he thinks. That's what I'm here for.
Kurt smiles a watery smile and looks up into Blaine's eyes just before his own close.
"You take my breath away."
It doesn't rain on the day of the burial, not like you see in the movies. Kurt would never stand for that, you see, all those nice suits ruined. No, it's about as sunny as a day in December can be.
Blaine hates it.
He almost couldn't handle it. He had almost sprinted away from this place, running as far as he possibly could and maybe throwing himself off of a bridge, just to see if that would change anything at all, if he'd float to the surface as good as new or if maybe he'd disappear altogether.
He couldn't leave, though. He's not behind his tree, because he has nothing to hide from. Instead, he's standing beside Mr. Hummel, whose arm is wrapped around his wife, who is crying silently while she holds her son's hand. It's all so familiar, he's seen this before, except this time he's a mourner, too.
He wants to say something. He wants to cry and scream and throw a fit, and most of all, he just wants to say to Kurt's father, "Please know how wonderful your son was, please understand how much he loved you, I loved him, and we loved each other, he was so strong, so good, please don't forget him."
He could if he really wanted to. But it wouldn't make a difference either way.
Blaine wants him back. He wants him to be with him right now, holding his hand in a cemetery. He wants him back all to himself, because he's a selfish bastard, and if he doesn't have Kurt, then he doesn't have anything anymore. He needs him more than anyone.
(He remembers his biggest fear, losing Kurt before moving on from this life, and it makes him want to laugh and punch something.)
He whips around on the spot, storming off away from the group of Kurt's friends and family members, and practically throws himself onto the ground. He pulls his knees to his chest and buries his face in his arms, and he doesn't cry. He just sits until he's almost certain everyone else is gone.
Who knows? Maybe he'll stay like this forever.
He sits some more, runs his hands through his hair and shuts his eyes. He gets that feeling he's being watched, and he almost laughs, because that's impossible. But then there's a hand on his shoulder, and the sound of someone clearing their throat, and then-
"Excuse me?" a voice asks. "Could you help me? I'm a bit lost."
He lifts his head, and Kurt is smiling at him coyly. He kneels down next to Blaine and whispers, "Sorry I kept you waiting. It took me a while to pluck up the courage to stop hiding behind a tree." He smiles a little wider, and the hand on Blaine's shoulder crawls up to tangle itself in Blaine's hair.
"I missed you," Kurt whispers, and there's a lump in Blaine's throat, and his chest feels tight, and his vision is blurring, and it takes him a moment to realize he's crying.
"What?" Kurt asks, his eyes widening in concern. "What is it?" And Blaine can't answer, he doesn't know, but he reaches up to cup Kurt's face in his hands.
"Please say something," Kurt pleads.
Blaine smiles through his tears. "Oh, there you are," he says. "I've been looking for you forever."
He rests their foreheads together and sighs. Kurt's eyes are brighter than he's ever seen them, and his smile is just a little sad while he pets at Blaine's hair.
"Will you miss them?" Blaine asks, and Kurt nods immediately.
"Of course I will. I already do," he says, his voice thick. "But it's okay. They'll be able move on without me, hopefully without forgetting me. And I'll have you." Yes, you'll always have me, Blaine thinks. We'll have each other.
"Where do we go now?" Blaine asks.
"I dunno," Kurt says, and then he smiles thoughtfully. "On."
Blaine smiles and nods before standing suddenly, brushing himself off, and offering a hand out to Kurt. Kurt accepts it gratefully, and he doesn't let go even after Blaine's helped him to his feet.
"Lead the way," Kurt commands.
This is it, Blaine thinks. I waited for you.
They hold onto each other, hands clasped and eyes locked, hearts pounding and souls on fire. They take one step, and then another, and then several more, until there's nothing else but the two of them in all of space and time, and a light in the darkness at the end of the tunnel. They move forward. Onward.
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