Title: Nonsensical Timestamps (1-2/2)
Pairings: Kurt/Blaine, past-Finn/Rachel
Word Count: ~8.8
Summary of ANTP: AU MPREG future!fic where both Blaine and Kurt have their own way of dealing with and preparing for a surprise that has come sooner than expected.
Author's Note: I'm finally updating with what I wanted to end the epilogue with. This was supposed to be a few SHORT outside POVs re: how K+B had changed since they spawned (I originally planned for Rachel, Santana, and Mike POVs but somehow ended up only with Rachel and Finn). NOPE. I also just kept writing in moar Klaine, oops.
Disclaimer: I don't own Glee.
...#1: 4.6 months...
Catching her reflection in the window across from where she sat alone at a pedestal table, Rachel adjusted her new baroque-inspired Prada sunglasses. She allowed them to slip down the bridge of her nose again, her lips pursed in a pout. Her cellphone vibrated, its screen lighting up to reveal a wordy text message from her agent. Estelle only wanted to confirm that they were still on for their lunch date in two hours. Rachel had been forced to cancel on her last week after deciding her voice required a much-needed rest. She smiled and quickly tapped out a response, adding a series of star Emojis to the end of the exclaimed sentence.
Rachel set her phone back down to stir a packet of sugar into her cup of tea. She huffed out a sigh, rattled briefly with annoyance for letting herself turn her head every time the stupid bell over the café's door chimed as someone either came in or, less importantly, left. She looked at her wristwatch. Um, wow. Rachel rolled her eyes, easily remembering a time (oh, let's say... Approximately 5 months ago, "B.C.") when it wasn't like Kurt to run late. Did he really think she had nothing better to do than sit around in some dinky coffee shop? For him and only him, she had re-scheduled an important hair appointment to have her bangs trimmed.
Believing she was wholly unappreciated by her oldest and dearest friend, Rachel uncrossed her legs and slumped back in her seat. She frowned, the horrible feeling growing worse when she spotted a familiar red stroller on the other side of the window. Kurt took that baby everywhere. Charles was definitely his favorite accessory; sometimes, Kurt even coordinated their outfits. For Father's Day, Blaine had gotten them matching brooches (while Kurt had gifted Blaine and Charlie with similar bowties). If anything, Rachel felt a stab of pity for Kurt. Clearly he was bored with his life. Luckily for Kurt, she was about to help him out with that. She picked her phone up again and pretended to be engrossed with it. She scrolled through the e-mail in her junk folder as an older gentleman held the door open for Kurt and his bald progeny.
"My, my. What a handsome boy," the polite stranger's wife remarked brightly. She leaned down to wave her fingers at Charles. Rachel glanced up long enough to catch Kurt shrug a shoulder.
"Thank you." He sounded pleased. "He thinks so, too."
Hah! Rachel knew, oh, she knew he wasn't kidding. Heck, Charlie knew Kurt wasn't kidding. For only being twenty weeks old, that baby was pretty full of himself. She put on a smile for Kurt as he squeezed his way through the narrow spacing between scattered tables and chairs with his enormous stroller.
"Sorry we're late." He took a seat, immediately reaching forward to pluck a napkin out of the dispenser in the middle of the table. "Someone was a fussy boy this morning."
Rachel's gaze softened as it flicked up from Charles to meet Kurt's. Her mouth tugged into a knowing smirk. She leaned in, her hands clasped neatly in front of her. "How is Blaine?"
"Off the record," Kurt stated hastily as he folded the napkin in half and used it to wipe the drool off Charles' chin, "he's exactly who I was referring to." He unstrapped his son from the stroller, grunting as he lifted Charlie out. "Sorry, he'll cry up a storm if he doesn't get to 'people watch.' It's his second favorite thing to do after 'hand watching' and, hmm. Maybe third. He's awfully fond of pulling at Blaine's bowties." He hunched his shoulders, bending his neck down to kiss the back of Charles' tiny hand as it curled around two of his fingers. "Charlie knows papa would never let him get away with that."
Rachel blinked slowly. "Right," she sighed. With a slight wrinkle in his brow, Charlie stared up at her from where he sat on Kurt's lap. He totally wanted to yank on her sparkly linear earrings. All that glittered was his to grab. "Oh, Kurt." Stating his name for a second time in even a sweeter tone, she brought her hands together in a silent clap. "I've got great news for you."
"For me?" Kurt arched a curious eyebrow at her. "Do tell."
"Well!" Too excited, Rachel gave up on her attempted demeanor of playful nonchalance. She squealed out a loud, bubbly laugh that started both Kurt and Charles. "You have an audition," she gushed. "It's just a formality; you're a shoo-in, believe me. I put in such a good word for you. Isn't that great? Kurt, isn't that..." Kurt's blank expression smacked the grin right off Rachel's face. During his second trimester, after he'd been abruptly let go from his internship at the fashion house, Kurt had admitted to her more than once about a deep-seated need he'd had to give theater another try. She faltered, "Great?"
Kurt nodded once, if that, and tucked his chin down. "It is," he agreed softly. "It is great." He smiled, nearly interrupted by an "ah" from Charles. He cooed back, tickling the bottom of Charlie's sock-clad foot. "Thank you," he said after a moment where his eyes didn't leave Charles' scrunched-up face. Rachel, knowing she wasn't going to like anything she was about to hear, held her breath. "It's just, I'm not really looking to audition for anything right now." He bounced his knees in a gentle motion. "I'm kind of busy, you know?"
Rachel didn't. She blurted out a sharp and unapologetic, "No."
"I am," he snapped back at her. Her eyes grew to be wider than Charlie's. Clenching his jaw, Kurt paused to look away. "It's not that I don't appreciate what you've done, but I'm... I can't. It wouldn't be fair for me to take on a role I can't fully commit to."
"It's a small part, Kurt, only so you can get your feet wet." That was all it'd take, she was sure of it. One taste of the theater life and he'd return to her. "Come on, it's not like you're headlining the play." That would be her, obviously.
Kurt dabbed the balled-up napkin at Charles' chin again. "The timing doesn't for work me. I have a new baby." He narrowed his eyes, irritated by Rachel's scoff. "Babies are a lot of work, Rachel. Charles demands attention at all times and I, I'm tired. He has yet to sleep through the night. Like, even one night. Gosh, and Blaine. Blaine's just started a new job at a doctor's office with better hours and benefits even though he loved being an ER nurse, and—and it wouldn't be fair. I'm distracted with the baby and my wedding is somehow already in a month, and—"
The rambling had to stop. "If not now, then when?"
"I don't know, I—I don't know. I've thought about a job and we've talked about it. I'm going to need a flexible schedule and the cost of daycare—" He flinched, the d-word leaving a sour taste in his mouth. "No, no. I'm not ready to leave him like that. Not happening."
Rachel was taken back by how oddly flustered and defensive Kurt seemed. There was something off about him—nay, there was something entirely different about him. She wanted to pinch at his face, to pull off the obvious mask and reveal who was playing a cruel trick on her. This wasn't her Kurt. What could've changed him so much? She hoped there wasn't anything he was keeping from her. She gasped. "Oh, my—Kurt, are you pregnant again?"
Kurt's mouth fell open. "What? How—where did you... No, Rachel, I'm not... God, I don't think my body could—ah," he lowered his voice, "I don't think Blaine could survive another pregnant me." He drew Charlie in closer to his chest as the restless baby grew fussy. "Shh, ignore her." In a way to Rachel that was magical, Kurt instantly got him to quiet down by giving him toy keys to play with. Charlie mouthed at one, kicking his feet out.
"I am merely trying to look out for you and your talent." Although she didn't want to, Rachel figured she should back off (a little, but just for now). She'd never seen him get so fidgety all at once. She honestly didn't expect to strike a nerve. To her, it was very sad to see him hold out on something he obviously wanted. "And I'm not talking about the talent in your arms."
"Well, you should be." She tried not to think about the sharpness in his tone. Kurt stood up, asking Rachel if she wanted to hold Charlie while he went to put an order in.
"Sure," she said through her teeth. "Hello, Charlie."
"Here's your Aunt Rachel." Before he carefully handed his son off to her, Kurt took the sunglasses off the top of her head and tried them on for himself. "Here, distract him or else he's going to explode the second he sees me walking away. He does it every morning with Blaine."
She had a feeling Kurt wasn't exaggerating. Rachel shook the plastic keys he'd given her, smiling as Charles reached for them. His confused frown pulled a laugh out of her. The baby was definitely gaining some personality. His eyes, once the color of a clear blue sky, were a few shades darker than she last remembered. She let him take the keys from her, which he then threw onto the floor. "Hey! Charles Hummel, no." She used her free hand to keep his hands way from her hair and jewelry. "I hope you realize how much your papa loves you. He's throwing away a lot for you."
Charlie, unsurprisingly, began to cry. His arms rose up for Kurt as he hurried back to the table without his coffee. Rachel had tried to make goofy faces at the baby to calm him down, but apparently it only worked for Blaine and Finn. Charlie just wasn't having any of that. Kurt hoisted Charlies onto his hip with an arm curled around him while he rummaged through his diaper bag. He pulled out a pacifier and clipped the cloth loop attached to it on Charlie's shirt before offering the rubber nipple to him.
"Here you go, sweetie. How's that?" Kurt kissed his son's flushed cheek. "Yeah?"
Rachel watched them, a small smile playing at her lips. It was kind of cute how content Charles looked to be back with his papa. Kurt appeared more comfortable with the baby than he had several short months ago. Rachel had found out from her husband about how Blaine had skipped out of work early on his first shift back after the baby was born because Kurt had been "freaking out" (Finn's words, which she doubted were exact but couldn't disprove). Seeing how natural Kurt was with his son in that moment, Rachel couldn't imagine him any other way. He actually looked, like, happy.
"I'm sorry for pushing you." Oops. The words left Rachel's mouth before she could stop them. She used a napkin to pick Charles' beloved toy up. How could such a tiny baby drool so much? "I really liked the idea of us working together like old times. I miss you, Kurt."
"You miss me? Rachel, I'm right here."
What was she supposed to say? She couldn't admit, "I miss pre-baby you" or "I wish you could better juggle your personal life and your career." She expected more from him than... This. Kurt had always kept her on her toes. She missed that and having him there for her.
Charlie gurgled, all adorable and whatnot. Rachel's shoulders deflated; she couldn't compete with that, nuh-uh. It wasn't fair.
"You are," she agreed hesitantly. Kurt didn't notice her uncertainty. He was too busy swiveling his hips to earn happy smiles from Charlie. Rachel played with the ends of her hair, not in the mood to sit there while Kurt kept the baby entertained. "Look at the time," she said. "I need to go, um, get ready for my meeting with Estelle." Not that you care, her raised eyebrows added.
"Oh, but—?" Kurt pulled a face, disappointed. He shook the look off. "Okay, fine."
"Don't think we won't continue that conversation another day, Mr. Hummel." She jumped up, stealing her sunglasses back. Rachel bounced up onto the balls of her feet and pecked a kiss to Kurt's cheek. Kurt pushed his bottom lip out, prodding at Charles' arm to wave good-bye to his aunt. She kissed her nephew's brow, stroking the side of his head. She grabbed her wristlet off the table. Needing a hug, she turned back around. "You are a natural," she sighed pensively into his shoulder.
"A natural actor?" Kurt guessed, preening. Without her noticing, he quietly intercepted Charlie's quick hands from snatching the expensive jewelry out of her ear.
She stepped back, sniffing; it hurt, the truth of it all: she needed her best friend more than he needed her. It wasn't that she was jealous, oh no. At least not, as she saw it, on her side. She couldn't blame him. "That, too."
"Er, ugh." Kurt squeezed his eyes shut, the letters on the screen of his e-reader too blurry to stare at any longer. He hadn't scrolled off the first page in the twenty minutes he'd been lying on the sofa.
"You okay over there?" Blaine asked loudly from the other side of the coffee table where he and their smiley young son were sprawled out over a blanket on the floor. "Kurt?"
Another moment passed before Kurt let out a soft sigh and then an even softer, "Yeah." He rubbed at his forehead, frowning. That fifteen minute meet-up with Rachel had drained him in more ways than he ever could have expected.
"Then why don't you come join us for—" Blaine blew a noisy raspberry on Charlie's tummy. His own hearty laughter nearly drowned out the sound of the baby's happy giggles. "Tickles."
Kurt opened his eyes, a fond smile slowly finding its way to his lips. Blaine pretended to nom on some itty-bitty baby feet, which Charlie apparently found to be quite hilarious. He squirmed, squealing around the fingers in his mouth.
Setting his Kindle aside, Kurt slid down from the couch and shuffled forward on his knees to crouch beside his handsy fiancé. Blaine kissed Kurt's neck as he pulled Kurt against him by his hips.
Drool dribbled down Charlie's dimpled chin. His hands darted away from his face to reach out for his silly parents. "Eee!"
"Cha—cha—Charles Burton," Kurt sang sweetly. He had leaned out of Blaine's embrace to hover above his baby boy. "How are you so cute?"
"Eee," Charlie repeated through an adorably impatient grunt. Kurt caved, carefully picking the baby up. Once he was upright, Charlie stretched one eager arm out until he could latch his wet fingers onto the empty breast pocket on Blaine's red scrub top. Mouth opened wide, he tugged on it and shouted gleefully.
"How are you so strong?" Blaine questioned, poking at his son's tight fist. Charles had one heck of a grip. Blaine's mom already had two necklaces broken by her enthusiastic grandson.
Kurt breathed in through his nose, nuzzling the back of Charlie's head. "How are you so big?"
Charlie crinkled his nose and sighed an inquiry of, "Ah?"
"How are you so—?" A weak cry from the baby cut Blaine right off. He chuckled, exchanging an eyeroll with Kurt. He gave the side of Charles' thigh a gentle pat. "Okay, sorry. We'll stop."
"We will do no such thing." Kurt hummed, clucking his tongue. Distracted by the noise, Charlie let go of his daddy's shirt to look off to the side. "This kid's gonna have to get used to us 'cause we're only going to get more annoying." As far as Kurt was concerned, Charles should have learned that from the womb. "Hear that? You've been warned."
"Kurt," Blaine chided lightly. "Be nice." He shifted onto his knees, leaning down to push his lips out and cross his eyes at Charlie. The baby smiled, touching his palm to Blaine's puffed-out cheek. "We aren't that bad, Charlie. I promise." Blaine glanced up at Kurt through his eyelashes as he pressed a kiss to the baby's forehead. Charlie yawned, his curious hand moving down to Blaine's chin. "Did you want to give him a bath before bed?"
Kurt admired the sight in front of him before shaking his head. "He gets too wound up during bath time. He certainly loves the water, doesn't he?" He picked his gaze up from Charlie to Blaine only to find his significant other studying him closely.
Hands braced on his thighs, Blaine straightened his back. "You sure you're okay?"
Kurt blinked hard, his smile strained. "It's nothing."
Blaine moved in to brush his lips across Kurt's cheek. "Come on, handsome. We'll talk once he's out for the count."
Except, despite his sleepiness, Charles refused to fall asleep. Kurt, not able to bear listening to his son fuss over the baby monitor, waited until Blaine was in the shower before he tip-toed into the nursery. He rocked him till the infant couldn't keep his eyes open any longer.
"No wonder you're the favorite," Blaine teased in a warm whisper from the doorway. Kurt had just set Charlie back down in his crib.
"I baby him, I know." Kurt inhaled sharply, his hands lingering on the quilt he had draped over their baby. "I can't not be here with—for him, Blaine. He needs me, especially now." He could feel Blaine behind him.
"Whoa, hey. What's going on?
Kurt sniffed. "Sorry, leftover hormones. Gosh, and how is it my chest still freakin' hurts even though the milk's all dried up?" He tensed as Blaine hugged him, his chest pressed snugly to Kurt's back. "My body is a complete mess. It's a disaster zone."
"Hush. Your body is amazing."
"Right." Kurt chuckled, the hollow sound full of bitterness. "Can you believe Rachel asked me if I was pr—pregnant today?" He couldn't help but to choke on the evil word. They both knew it was an impossibility; not that he and Blaine weren't having sex. Oh, 'cause the engaged couple definitely were. Just not any sex (yet) that could lead to another accidental pregnancy for Kurt.
Blaine narrowed his eyes and asked, "What made her ask that?"
"In her bizarre little mind, that could be the only thing holding me back from... Whatever." Although Kurt turned around in Blaine's arms to face him, he wouldn't exactly look his fiancé in the eye.
"No, what?" There was a desperate edge to Blaine's voice. Don't do this to me. "Kurt, talk to me." His eyes plead, please.
As much as Kurt wanted to shut down and blow him off, he didn't. He couldn't. Wetting his lips, he met Blaine's anxious gaze. "Not in here."
Quiet and nervously pensive, Kurt worked at the buttons on his shirt once they were in their bedroom. He faced the oval mirror on his vanity, grateful for Blaine's patience. Sighing fitfully, he brought his fists down to his sides. "I don't know what to do," he admitted.
Blaine made a small sound in the back of throat (Kurt twisted his mouth up to the side; it was the very same noise Blaine would make during those animal cruelty commercials). "Oh, Kurt. Do you need help with the baby?"
Kurt twisted around to gape and glare and seethe at Blaine. "D—do I, do I... 'Need help with the baby'?" he mimicked, his sour tone sharp enough to make Blaine flinch. "Do you think I need help with the baby?" he then inquired, suddenly sounding more fearful than angry.
"Um, no. Absolutely not. You, you are great with him. Watching you and Charlie... It's incredible, Kurt." Blaine nodded his head as he stated surely, "We're pretty awesome dads." Palm up, he held his hand out for Kurt to take. His weak smile brightening, Kurt slid their fingers together.
"I don't know why I let her get under my skin like that. Unless I overreacted; all Rachel did was—"
"What did Rachel say to you?" Now, now Blaine knew what was going on. He'd had enough of Rachel and her strong, constant need to vocally disapprove of Kurt's own decision to put his career on the back burner while they raised their infant son. "I'm calling Finn."
"Nothing, Blaine. Don't. It's not a big deal."
"If she's making you feel like crap again, then yeah, it's a big deal."
Frustrated, Kurt pulled away and ran his fingers through his hair too roughly. "Shh! Blaine, stop it. It's not what she said that got to me, it's her attitude. Her ego has been out of control since freshmen year at NYADA. I should've done more to tame it then."
Blaine sounded just as stressed as he uttered Kurt's name and, "You stop it. Stop making excuses for her. She's an adult, she can take responsibility for herself."
"All she did was get me a role for the play she's in. By turning it own, I guess I really hurt her feelings."
"But did you want to take it? Is that what this is about?"
He hadn't; it wasn't. Kurt Hummel did not accept handouts, especially ones given out of pity. Eventually, he did want to audition for parts... On his own terms. When he was good and ready. Really, he would. Again: eventually. "I just want to make sure I'm doing enough for this family. If you ever think—" Grabbing hold of Kurt's face, Blaine sealed his mouth over Kurt's. Kurt broke the kiss by turning his head. "No, Blaine, you need to—" This time, he clutched at Blaine's biceps as he brought their lips together again. When they parted for air, his arms rose to rest loosely around Blaine's shoulders. Kurt playfully pushed the center of his forehead into Blaine's. He whispered a breathless, "Tell me."
"I love you," Blaine said as he kissed Kurt's cheek. "Charlie loves you." He planted another kiss onto the smooth curve of Kurt's jaw. "Your family is always going to support you. What you want is what we want." However, it was apparently that Kurt's sister-in-law had missed that memo. Or burned it, whatever. "You do so much for us, Kurt. We're not going to allow her or anyone else to let you think otherwise. Hey, look at me." His curled finger caressed the skin under Kurt's lowered chin.
Lost in his fiancé's loving gaze, Kurt followed Blaine's backward steps until they were standing at the foot of their bed.
"You know how much your husband-to-be and son appreciate everything you do for us, right? So much, god, Kurt." Mouthing at the side of Kurt's neck, Blaine pushed Kurt's opened button down shirt off his shoulders. "If you were unhappy, you'd let me know, right?" He exhaled sharply hotly against Kurt's collarbone. "Right, Kurt?"
"I'm not," Kurt swore. Quite the opposite, actually. He smiled into another kiss; grinned when Blaine whined against his lips as he fumbled with the buttons on Kurt's jeans.
"I want you." Blaine pulled Kurt's undershirt off over his head. Kurt grabbed at his hips, purposely knocking them off balance so they would fall sideways into bed. Even with years of practice, they were not particularly graceful. "Ow! To know how—how, ow, move your knee. I want you to know how happy you make me. Let me show you."
Kurt shivered, his hips bucking as Blaine's fingertips traced over his c-section scar. His head fell back, an eager gasp rushing out from between his parted lips as Blaine's hand moved lower.
Which, of course, was when Charlie made his presence known over the baby monitor.
#2: ...8 months...
After six years, Finn's marriage was officially over.
Except not in an officially official sense since they weren't yet legally finished with each other. Finn, though. Yeah, he was done. He was especially done pretending he wasn't done. Gosh, and Rachel. She had clocked out of their marriage a while ago, too. So. That was it, they were very much done. Again. For good this time, he'd sworn out loud while he had stormed out of his and Rachel's shoebox apartment once he'd kicked over a chair for the last time. Finn heaved a sigh. Maybe they shouldn't have had rekindled after that third lengthy separation.
Stomping his feet through slushy puddles, Finn hurried around to the side of his stepbrother's apartment building as an icy wind blew past him. He could feel the tense furrowing of his brow all the way down to the tips of his damp toes. As he drew his mouth into a tight and bitter frown, Finn wondered why there wasn't an ounce of carefree happiness soaring through him. Nostrils flaring, he decided it sucked to be in a relationship where you loved the other person more than they loved you. It had sucked. Ah, he was free now. Not an officially official kind of a free, however; at least they had agreed on one thing: the ship had sunk. 'Finchel' was a thing of the past. Yeah, the exhausting past.
As soon as he was close enough, Finn knocked at the door to Kurt and Blaine's apartment. When no one answered after a few seconds, his fist hit the heavy door harder. A shimmery bow fell right off the holiday wreath that should've been taken down already. Those two had such a hard time parting with Christmas.
"Be right there!" a strained voice, one that definitely belonged to Blaine, called out to Finn from inside. Blaine eventually answered the door, his arms full of a whiny eight-month-old baby. Charlie tugged on his ear, his chubby cheeks flushed all over. He couldn't muster a simple smile for his favorite uncle. "Finn, hi."
Finn bent down to greet Charlie. The baby only bawled a high-pitched "da-da" and tried to hide his face in his father's neck. Blaine rubbed his back, hugging him tighter with a pained expression.
"Sorry, he's got an earache. It's been a long day."
"Not a good time to crash on your couch, then?"
"Um, it's fine? As long as you don't mind all the crying."
Finn shrugged. "That's cool. Where's my little brother?"
"Kurt's in the shower." Blaine yawned. The bags under his eyes and the uncharacteristic stubble on his chin made him appear years older. Actually, no. For once, Blaine looked his age. "We just traded shifts. He's been up with Charlie since dawn. Oof, this little guy is clingy when he's sick." He stepped aside. "Sorry, come in. Please ignore the mess." Right. Finn rolled his eyes. There were two toys and a fashion magazine spread out on the floor in front of the couch where, oh no, a plaid throw hadn't been refolded after its use. "What brings you here?"
Finn shrugged again. "Just the end of my marriage."
"Nah, man. Like, for real this time."
Blaine repeated another flat, "Oh." He switched Charles over to his other hip. "I'm..." He tried for, "Sorry?"
Finn waved his hand. He resisted the urge to keep shrugging his shoulders by clenching his teeth together. "It's cool." He heard the bathroom door behind him spring open. Kurt walked out, his hair still damp and not even slightly styled. Finn also eyed Blaine's unkempt appearance again. Perhaps he had stumbled into some kind of Bizarro World. Now that was cool. "Hey-o," he drawled with false cheer. "There's Kurt."
Charles stopped grumping for half a second to shout, "Ba! Ah, bah. Bee. Ba-ba."
Kurt gazed straight past Finn. "There's my cutie." He sauntered over to his significant other and pinched his cheek. He touched the back of his fingers across Charles' forehead and then kissed the top of his head. "And you, the cutest of the cuties." He glanced back up at Blaine, his tone as playful as his smirk. "Hi there, husband."
Blaine grinned. "Hello to you too o' husband of mine." Finn gaped between the two newlyweds. They were still just as flirty with each other as they were in high school. "Hmm?" Blaine questioned, tilting his head. Finn noticed Kurt had motioned several times for Blaine to hand their son over to him. "I thought you were going to get sleep now."
Finn failed at trying not to stare at the giant drool spot on Blaine's shoulder. "Yeah," he agreed. "You're looking rough."
Kurt spared him a glare (Blaine did not). "I'll sleep better if I can get him to take some formula. All I got him to eat today was cereal."
"I can do it."
Kurt seemingly ignored Blaine's insistence that he could feed their son and that Kurt should head to bed. He lingered at Blaine's side, absently stroking his fingers over Charles' fine brown hair. It was sticking up in a weird way that made Finn smile, but neither of Charlie's equally disheveled parents bothered to pat it down. All that patchy hair had taken its sweet time growing in. "Does he feel warmer to you?"
"I just took his temperature. His fever's gone down, actually."
"Maybe you can take it again after I feed him," he stated in a way that made it clear he wasn't making a suggestion. Finn held his breath, waiting. Blaine only looked nonplussed and didn't say anything as Kurt took Charles from him. "Here's papa now. Oh, mon cher."
Kurt shook his head and slowly enunciated, "Papa. I'm papa."
"Ba! Ba, ba, ba."
"Blaine. Don't you laugh."
Finn sat down in the striped recliner Burt had "left" there. He leaned from one side to the other, glancing down and around to make sure he hadn't tracked in any dirt (he didn't want to pay to have the carpet cleaned again). His mouth opened, details about his totally permanent break up with the woman he had believed to be the love of his life ready to pour out. Distracted by the twinkle, not a sound croaked out. There was an actual twinkle in Blaine's eyes as he watched Kurt coddle their son in the kitchen, rocking him and uttering to him softly. It was unbelievable to Finn how smitten Blaine looked. His stomach twisted, knowing very well neither he nor Rachel had looked at each other like that in a very long time. Kurt and Blaine still had this spark between them. Ridiculous, Finn scoffed.
"Wow. I hope my next relationship is more like yours and Kurt's."
Blaine's dark eyebrows quirked as they rose, a pleased smile stretching across his face. "Oh, yeah?"
From under him, Finn pulled out a small stuffed animal. "Yeah," he mumbled as he played with the toy puppy's floppy ears. "You two have it so easy."
For a long moment, Blaine was quiet. He blinked, slow and hard. "We have it easy?"
Finn couldn't look up from the stuffed animal. He traced his thumb around one of its plastic eyes. "Yeah, dude. It's kind of." He cleared his throat. "It's unfair. Everything just comes together on its own for you guys. You don't really have to work for anything."
"Finn, you literally have no idea what you're talking about." Wary, with a glance into a kitchen: "You haven't been drinking, have you?"
"No," Finn sputtered. His fingers squeezed around the toy. "I was thinking a—about how hard Rachel and I fought to stay together when you and Kurt are, like, so effortless." He squared his shoulders, forcing out a kind chuckle. "It's a compliment, Blaine."
"No, no it's not. You, you and Rachel chose to sing and dance around your problems instead of talking and listening to each other." Finn flinched at Blaine's accusation that he and his wife only made promises they couldn't or didn't want to keep. "Kurt and I, we're honest and we communicate; we have—"
"Whoa, I said it was a compliment."
Blaine's arms were crossed over his chest. "You insulted my marriage."
Finn rolled his eyes. "Just wait. You're new to this. You don't know anything about marriage."
"Neither do you, obviously. You're getting a divorce."
Uh-oh. Finn squirmed in his seat. "Whoa," he repeated with a widened gaze. "You're actually pissed off."
"We've gone through a lot, too. These part two years haven't been easy with Kurt getting physically assaulted and the difficult delivery of our son. We stay strong, we take the hits together as one; as equals. Relationships are hard, Finn. Life is hard."
Finn didn't say anything. He stared down into his lap, feeling awkward as he frowned guiltily.
"Blaine," Kurt called out sharply from about thirteen feet away. He had to have heard everything. "I could use a hand in here."
Blaine shuffled his feet. "Excuse me," he muttered.
Finn had a clear view of the kitchen from where he sat. Blaine stood with his back to Finn, one of his hands on Kurt's shoulder while the other rested on Charles' back. Finn pet the stuffed dog, aware of the quiet chatter. He flicked the toy's tail, hearing a snort and then laughter from the two of them.
"I can't believe he just grabbed the bottle out of my hand."
"Ah, our darling prince is most definitely hungry." Blaine's hand moved up, cupping the side of Kurt's head. His thumb stroked the shell of Kurt's ear. "I think he's starting to feel better."
Finn found himself rolling his eyes. Again and again; it was if he couldn't help himself. If only it made the ache in his chest lessen. He liked to pretend it kind of did, maybe. He fished his cellphone out of his pocket and frowned harder when he saw he didn't have any text messages or missed calls. He got up to pull a comforter and pillow out from the linen closet. He wanted to sleep, wanted for his brain to shut down for a while. No more thoughts or picking fights, please. He glanced once more at his mobile phone, questioning his persistence.
Because, he reminded himself, that'd been it. They were done.
Finn barely slept a wink that night. Lying there on his back, he wiggled his feet and tried to blame the length of the couch for his bout of sleeplessness. Before his nephew was born, he had slept on a double-high air mattress in what was now the nursery. There wasn't enough room for him anymore, not with Charlie's toys and all that space-stealing baby stuff. Even if there was somewhere to shove an airbed, he would prefer the tiny couch in the also tiny living room. Charles' antique rocking horse creeped Finn out.
It wasn't until about two in the morning when he realized Kurt and Blaine must have slept with Charlie in their room. The last few times he had camped out on their couch, he'd kept getting woken up by either of them as they'd crept across the hallway to randomly check on the baby (whether he had been crying or not) all through the entire night. Around seven, the door to their bedroom creaked open and Kurt quietly stepped out. He padded straight into the kitchen without turning on any lights. Finn waited until he heard the coffeemaker kick on before he joined his stepbrother.
He stalled in the doorway. "I kind of started a fight with your husband last night," he confessed while staring down at the white linoleum under his bare feet. He curled his toes inward.
Kurt had taken a cast iron skillet from off a hook above the marble countertop island. He held the handle with both hands. "I know."
"He can't hear you from another room, Finn."
Finn winced as he let out a sigh and another, "Sorry. How's, uh, how's the baby?" The tense lines around Kurt's mouth slipped away. Finn accepted that as a sign he could stand within arms reach of Kurt and not fear for his life.
"Better. His fever broke, which is... Yeah, Blaine's still lying with him. Thought I'd get started on breakfast. How's pancakes sound?"
"Um, only totally awesome." Finn grinned, his lips stretching wide as he caught Kurt's own amused smile. "I am sorry, you know. Like, to both of you. I said some... bull I definitely did not mean and, and I don't know why I took it out on you and Blaine 'cause you guys have always been so cool to me." He leaned against the counter, fiddling with the knob of the silverware drawer. "It's just, it's weird how on and off Rachel and I'd become..." Okay, maybe they'd been an "on and off again" couple from the very start; occasionally more off than on before their marriage... and a little bit after, too. "But every time we call it quits, it—it hurts. A real lot, Kurt. I thought it'd feel different this time. It doesn't. I do," he paused and then whispered, "do really love her."
"And she loves you, too. That's never been a question, Finn. But how many more times can you go through this?"
Finn squeaked out a rushed, "Have you talked to her?" He then cleared his throat, trying again in a calm manner. "Have you talked to Rachel?"
Kurt shook his head, turning away to (possibly hide an eyeroll and) pull ingredients for breakfast out of the nearest opened cupboard. "Rachel and I, we don't talk about much anymore. Every now and then, she'll update me on her latest and greatest theatrical accomplishments and I'll update her on Charles' milestones. That's about it."
Finn nodded. "She's a busy girl."
Kurt didn't miss a beat with his correction of, "Busy woman." Oh. Right. Sometimes (in the sense of all the time), Finn just kind of "forgot" that people were growing older along with him. It was crazy and, unfortunately, getting too obvious for him to try not to realize. Once Charles was a year old, it meant Finn was already a year older. Definitely crazy. "We're all busy with our own lives."
"I guess we are." He bit his bottom lip, deciding to come clean on what had been on his mind all night. He wanted to rip the band-aid off sooner than later. "I think... I am going to stay with Puck for a while." It was an offer Puck had made many times over the years. Finn had nearly taken it up on him during his last separation, but then he'd met Quinn.
Kurt lowered his lands from a high shelf without taking anything down. "Puck lives in LA."
"I know. I need to get away from... the city for a while." Kurt's breath hitched a little. Finn frowned, too exhausted to feel anymore guilt. He pushed off the counter to give Kurt's shoulder a pat. "Don't, Kurt. I'm not, I'll be back. I can't leave my favorite little man hanging. I freakin' love Charlie, you know that."
"His birthday is in a few months. You can't miss that, you can't miss your nephew's first birthday, Finn." Kurt set his fingers over Finn's, which were still resting on him. He looked back when Finn didn't pull his hand away. Finn just smiled at him, a goofy yet adoringly sincere smile.
"I'll be back way before then, promise. Now, how 'bout them pancakes?"
It wasn't long before Blaine popped into the kitchen with Charles in tote. Off the bat, Finn asked if he could hold the baby. Blaine hesitated, swatting at the tiny hands trying to grab at his untamed hair.
"He needs a diaper change."
"I'll do it."
Kurt scoffed at Blaine's continued uncertainty. "Honey, that's an offer you never turn down." Blaine finally nodded, smiling as Charles waved when Finn held out his arms for him.
"Wow, when he'd get so big? I used to hold you like a football, dude. Now you'd probably kick me in the chin if I did that." Charles babbled back, probably not disagreeing with his uncle. He pointed at Kurt, who looked surprised and gestured at himself questioningly.
Kurt pouted. "You absolute stinker."
Finn started to leave, but froze and glanced back. "Hey, Blaine? I'm sorry about..." He laughed, having interrupted an apparent "private" conversation the pair was having with their goddamned twinkling eyes. Could the two be anymore in love? Not one person hadn't shed tears at their wedding. Puck had gone around with a box tissues. (Even months later, Finn swore he still felt hungover after that wedding reception they'd thrown. Kurt had let Blaine chose the last half of songs on the playlist and it'd been a drunken Wham blast). Finn swallowed back a hot flicker of jealousy. He took a deep breath and then smiled crookedly. "Your daddy and papa... They're one of a kind, champ."
Charles sucked on the tips of his fingers. "Pooh, pahh. Papooh."
"Let's save that for later, huh?" He seriously doubted Kurt could handle being called 'pooh' right now. "Can you say Uncle Finn? Finn? Finn?" He carefully avoided any eye contact with Charlie's cherished rocking horse as he swiftly entered the nursery. Finn set the baby down on the oak changing table.
"Hey?" Blaine was suddenly several feet behind him. "Kurt can call Rachel and get her out of the apartment for whenever you want to get over there and pack." Ah, another band-aid. Finn didn't want to pick at it, but knew he had to and soon. "Just let us know when. We'll get a babysitter for Charlie. Is that okay?"
Blaine grinned easily. "What are brothers for, right?"
If there wasn't a chance Charlie would roll himself off the table, Finn could have hugged Blaine right then.
With a tight-lipped groan, Blaine kneeled down to work a knot out of his shoelaces. He rose slowly, wincing as he rolled one stiff shoulder and then the other. He unraveled the two-tone pinstripe scarf from around his neck and yawned, stepping and then almost tripping out of his loosened sneakers. He rubbed a hand over his face, scoffing into the dark. He glanced at the nursery door from between spread fingers. His gaze then traveled farther down the hall where he could see straight into his and Kurt's bedroom. The light was on and Blaine's eyes were gifted with a moment to appreciate the sight of Kurt's bare legs hanging over the side of their bed. He peeked in on Charles first, careful not to wake him. He pressed a gentle kiss to his son's forehead, his thumb sweeping across soft locks of hair.
"Love you," he whispered into the baby's forehead. "So much, kiddo."
Scratching his belly, Blaine then traipsed his way into his favorite room in their apartment. He nearly lost his footing, although finding his love dressed neatly in a makeshift toga hardly surprised him (Blaine had no room to judge, not when he'd just had his superhero costume sent out for dry cleaning... Damn messy baby food). He cleared his throat, his mouth relaxing into a toothy smile.
"Hey you. Kurt?"
Kurt started, lifting his head and blinking up blearily at the baby monitor strapped to the bedpost.
"Honey, I'm sorry. Were you sleeping?"
"'M exhausted," Kurt mumbled. He shifted onto his side, which at least afforded Blaine with a glimpse of lean thigh. Kurt flexed his blistered toes as he whined, "We shopped and we shopped and we shopped."
Blaine looked away, his eyebrows rising into an unimpressed arch. "Wow, yeah." He reached behind his head, rubbing the back of his neck. "No wonder you're so... exhausted... from all that... shopping." He had spent most of his day with Finn and Sam to pack up Finn's belongings (holy heaviness, Batman) and haul (more like drag) them away to storage.
"I am financially and physically spent, yes." Judging by Kurt's strained voice, he had heard the sarcasm in Blaine's tone and did not appreciate it. "Nothing fits like it used to, Blaine. You don't understand, I had a lot of trying on to do."
Blaine crawled onto the bed. "Uh-huh, is that why you're lying here in a sheet?" Upon closer inspection, the garment looked tailored.
"Yes, husband. I'm boycotting traditional clothing."
Hah, Blaine snorted. Right, because if only one word could be used to describe the outfits Kurt put together on a daily basis it'd be traditional. Uh-huh, sure. Blaine wet his lips, tasting dust and salt. "I actually have no problem with that, husband."
Kurt nodded, deeply serious. He tipped his weary head to the side as he inquired, "Until I leave the house?"
Distracted by an exposed collarbone begging for special attention, Blaine nearly missed his cue. He stroked his fingers along the length of Kurt's forearm and uttered a hasty, "Until you leave the house." He yawned again, his head twitching from side to side as if he could shake off some of the fatigue weighing him down. Kurt snorted, pushing back on a frizzy curl of Blaine's that'd popped up. Somehow, he looked much more tired than Blaine and most of Blaine's achy muscles felt. Blaine wondered if he should pin the blame on Rachel or all of the clothes shopping they'd apparently done.
"It wasn't bad," Kurt said suddenly. Blaine couldn't decide if he'd spoken out loud without realizing it or if telepathy was Kurt's previously-latent mutant power. "You know, today. With Rachel. I think I may have actually had a really good time... Yes, with Rachel. Blaine, stop making faces and come here." Kurt pushed up on an elbow, his kissable lips pursed wickedly and ready for Blaine's. "She wasn't as grating as she's been. Stop that, I mean it. I'm only barely exaggerating here!" He gave Blaine's cheek a rough pinch and then smacked a noisy, somewhat apologetic kiss to it. "You're a little gross, dear. How'd it go with Finn?"
Blaine hummed, pretending to nip at Kurt's fingertips in retaliation for the half-hearted abuse to his face. "Good," he sighed as he sealed a kiss to the inside of Kurt's pale wrist. His mouth trailed upward, nuzzling into Kurt's opened palm. He forgot to open his eyes on a blink and rested there, bowed over Kurt's upper body. "We got everything done. Sam even helped out 'til he had to get to work." Finn was now staying at Sam's place, just until he finished tying up some loose ends in the city. He'd thanked Kurt and Blaine for their generosity, but he had known they'd already had their hands full. Finn had asked for a night or two where he could watch his nephew for a while and let them go out and do something "adult" and "fun" (he'd then panicked, insisting that he had absolutely not winked, that there'd been an ill-timed eyelash in his eye).
"I can't believe he quit his job like that and is going to take off across the country to 'chill.'" Kurt wiggled his thumb, irritation bleeding into exasperation. "Can I have my hand back?"
Blaine purposely smacked his lips together and simply huffed a stubborn, "No." He continued with, "At least he seemed better than he did last week. I don't know, I—I think maybe this is something he needs to do, like it'll be good for him." He scrunched his nose. "Let's just hope he doesn't fall in love with the West Coast. Hey now, hey. Don't you make that face."
"Your eyes are closed," Kurt pointed out and then snapped, "And I'm not 'making' and kind of face." He sounded peeved enough for Blaine's eyes to open wide as it dawned on him that Finn's indefinite vacation was a sore topic for his husband. Kurt pulled away from Blaine. "If you'll excuse me, I need to put something else on." He grumbled, "I feel ridiculous."
Blaine frowned, recognizing the dark expression on Kurt's face. He was about to insult himself and Blaine refused to let him. "Don't." Blaine's smile was deceptively bashful as he mumbled, "I like the toga." He ran his hand over the bunched-up fabric folded loosely over Kurt's shoulder.
"Mm-hmm. You would."
"Maybe you could, uh, rustle one up for yours truly? With the right bowtie, I think I could pull this look off almost as well as you do." More than anything, Blaine wanted to literally pull the look off Kurt. He also wanted to strip out of his own clothes and—and? He let out another yawn.
"Okay, you're more ridiculous than me. Tons more."
"Tons and tons more," Blaine agreed tiredly. "Okay, you change. I'll go shower a day of hard work off me. You're rolling your eyes, but I don't think you can even begin to imagine how much crap your brother owns." Considering they once shared a room, Kurt probably had some idea. Never mind that. It still kind of blew Blaine's mind how the apartment had hardly looked any emptier with all of Finn's stuff moved out. He and Rachel were such hoarders.
"Oh, that reminds me. Their lease is up in August and I promised Rachel we would help her—" Kurt covered a hand over his mouth to muffle a laugh. "Sorry," he said without sounding apologetic. "You have months to recover. You'll be fine."
"Uh-huh." Blaine used the last of his strength to push Kurt flat on his back. "You're lucky you're so cute, Hummel."
"You too, Hummel." Blaine nodded until he sort of just slumped over, his cheek smushed against Kurt's chest. Kurt started to pet his back in slow strokes and it was nothing short of amazing; Blaine couldn't lift his head if he tried. "I thought you were gonna shower."
"I thought you were gonna change." He plucked at the bed sheet Kurt donned majestically, already daydreaming about their naked bodies tangled in it while they... slept. He chuckled to himself, because his gorgeous husband was spread out beneath him in only a sheet and all Blaine could do was fall asleep. If only he glanced up, he'd find that Kurt was also close to drifting off.
"In a minute?"
"In a minute."