Shout out in this chapter to my paramedic amigos. My paramigos, if you will. And to anyone that does the job, thank you.
Up close, the burning hotel is sublime. On the street, there is chaos. Firemen have already trekked inside, while police are holding back the crowd. On the other side of the road, ambulances wait, though a few have already pulled away screaming, with survivors in tow.
Kurt scans the crowd, but every soot covered, terrified face runs together. The world swirls around him, just as fast as the golden world of his dream. They're not here. They could've been taken away already, but somehow Kurt just knows that's not the case. He turns to watch a few more people stumble out of the hotel's front doors.
He tries not to think about how devastating a smoke-filled building will be to Blaine's lungs.
It feels like hours, standing there, watching their dirty, crying neighbors crawl out of the building, some on their own, and some with the aid of firemen.
When Finn comes out the door, Blaine hanging off his shoulder, Kurt doesn't even recognize them. Their clothes are gray. Their faces are gray. Blaine's eyes are closed. Kurt's heart plummets and briefly, he thinks he's going to throw up.
For a second, Kurt considers the irony, in that the night they met, Blaine was carrying Finn into their home, and now, on this night, Finn is carrying Blaine out.
Finn looks like he can't breathe, he's staggering under Blaine's dead weight, but he still has his head up. He's screaming Kurt's name with more panic than Kurt has ever heard from him. He's screaming with more panic than when he was running into Kurt's hospital room after the accident that killed their parents.
It's this that gets Kurt to move. He meets them on the stairs down to the sidewalk and slips under Blaine's other arm. Finn stumbles in shock at the sight of him and sits right down on the bottom stair, feet sprawled out on the sidewalk. Kurt has no choice but to sink right down with him, Blaine propped between them like a doll.
"Are you okay?" Finn pants.
"Yes. I'm fine. I wasn't here. I was at the church." Kurt is rambling. He doesn't know what to do. His fingers fumble at Blaine's neck, his face, feeling for breath under his nose. He's not breathing. Kurt knows it instinctually, the complete stillness of the body beside him striking him as wrong deep in his gut.
Suddenly, two medics are right in front of them, one reaching for Finn and the other taking Blaine's weight from Kurt's shoulder. It doesn't take the medic two seconds of examination to come to the same realization Kurt had. "This one's not breathing. We need to get him in the bus."
"Blaine," Kurt says. "His name is Blaine."
The medic spares him a glance. "Were you inside?"
The other medic, a young woman, has a stethoscope to Finn's chest. "I've got really decreased breath sounds on this one, too."
"Finn," Kurt says. "His name is Finn."
The first medic, a guy in a backwards baseball cap that seems out of place with his uniform, looks at Kurt again. "Is this your family?"
"Okay. Can you help me out?" He doesn't wait for Kurt to answer, instead positioning the stretcher better next to them. "Can you grab Blaine's feet for me? We need to help him."
Kurt does as he's told and when they lay Blaine down, he's totally limp, head rolling to the side. "He has asthma," Kurt says. His throat feels tight around the words. "It's...it's bad."
"What medication is he on?"
Kurt shakes his head numbly. "None. He can't. He couldn't get it anymore."
The medics exchange a glance. This should be important, Kurt thinks, but then they're at the ambulance. Blaine is inside, the female medic working quickly over him, hands flying between tubes and injections and leads. The baseball cap medic just about lifts Finn onto the bench beside the cot. He moves just as quickly as his counterpart to strap an oxygen mask on him and slide an IV into his arm.
"We need to go," the girl says. The guy nods. He hangs Finn's IV on a bar along the top of the ambulance and reaches over him to fasten the seatbelt across his chest. Then he crawls out the back of the bus and holds out a hand to Kurt.
"Come on. We're already overloaded. No one will notice if we transport you, too."
Kurt takes his hand and crawls up onto the bench beside Finn. The back doors slam shut, one, two and then they're flying down the road, sirens screaming above them.
By some definitions, Blaine dies.
Kurt knows this because, by some definitions he'd died once, too.
Kurt is sitting on the edge of Finn's hospital bed as a doctor delivers the news to them. He talks in complicated words about Blaine's breathing and describes the cardiac event that had occurred just as they'd reached the hospital. A cardiac event means that, however briefly, the rhythm of his heart stopped.
Kurt takes the news with numb composure, but when Finn hears the words, he draws his knees up, puts his head down, and starts to cry. He's still wearing the awkward, plastic oxygen mask and his sobs sound hollow behind it.
The doctor rubs Finn's shoulder gently. "Don't worry. Your brother is going to be fine now."
This just makes Finn cry harder. He brings his hands up over his head likes he's preparing for a tornado drill. The doctor looks at Kurt, but Kurt doesn't know how to explain. There's no way to explain that, while Finn may be upset about Blaine, the real problem is that Finn had been here before.
Two years ago, Finn had been alone when a doctor just like this one had sat him down and told him all the details of their parent's deaths. That doctor had probably described Kurt's injuries in just as much detail, including any cardiac events. That doctor had probably rubbed Finn's shoulder just the same and told him something meaningless like, "Don't worry. Your brother is going to be fine now."
For the first time, Kurt sees the trauma that Finn has endured just as clearly as he sees his own traumas.
He pulls Finn into his chest, runs his hands over Finn's back, and looks at the doctor calmly. "Maybe something to help him rest?"
The doctor barely glances at Finn's giant, shuddering form. "Of course."
When Finn is sleeping peacefully, Kurt tucks the blankets up around him and slips away down the hall.
Blaine is sharing a room with two other people. Behind one curtain there is nothing but the steady drone and beep of monitors. Behind the other, there is the constant shuffling of someone moving around, a man moaning in pain, and continuous, urgent whispers of, "Dios, por favor. Ayudale. Dios le bendiga."
The tv is on beside Blaine's bed. A newscaster drones on about a homeless man starting a fire in a downtown hotel to stay warm. On the screen, Kurt watches pictures of the place he had called home flashing by. The building is completely gone. It didn't take much for the already charred building to be completely swallowed up in flames.
Blaine is awake, but his eyes don't focus on anything, roaming around the room like he's lost.
Kurt perches on the edge of the bed and Blaine looks at him for one, long moment before his eyes slide over to the wall. The oxygen mask he wears resembles a gas mask, with several black straps across his face to hold it in place. It hisses and whirs like a living thing.
Kurt pats at his hand. "Blaine? Hi, honey. I'm here."
Blaine stares up at the ceiling and blinks.
Kurt rubs his hand gently, running his fingers over the knuckles. "I know everything is weird and kind of scary right now, but it's going to be okay. I promise."
Behind the curtain at Kurt's back, there is another shuffling and a second voice joins the first. "Nuestra padre, que esta en el cielo..."
Kurt closes his eyes.
In his mind, he sees golden rooms on the lakeshore. He drifts through his home, music playing softly in another room. The windows are open and it's a warm spring day. His family is there. It's a fairytale. Kurt moves to the front door, opens it, and there stands his prince.
Kurt opens his eyes and ducks to meet Blaine's dull gaze. "I thought about what you said. I thought about everything you said. When you made me think of my dream, it wasn't about the looks of the place or the size of the kitchen, it was about the feeling I had. I felt safe and loved. Those are the same things I feel in the time I've spent with you. So, I guess what I'm trying to say is you are my house on the lake. You have been my fairy tale."
Kurt tries to smile, despite the tears that have wound their way down his face. "Does that sound dumb?" He waits for Blaine, sincere, sweet Blaine to say "No way. That's not dumb at all."
The oxygen gas mask clicks and whirs.
Blaine shakes his head slowly back and forth on the pillow.
Kurt feels a jolt. "Did you understand me? Can you hear me?"
Blaine's eyes search all over the room. Then, he nods.
"En la tierra, como en los cielos..."
Kurt leans further over him and holds his gaze. Blaine blinks and tears run from the corners of his eyes to the pillow. "You're okay," Kurt says quickly. "Everything will be okay now."
Blaine nods and fumbles for Kurt's hand. Kurt meets him halfway and holds on tight.
"Y libranos de mal. Amen."
Kurt doesn't remember anything about his death. He remembers being in the car, riding down the highway. It was late in the day and the setting sun was hitting him square in the face from where he sat in the back seat. They were discussing plans for a summer vacation.
He remembers waking up in a hospital room, five days later. Finn was passed out on a cot beside the bed. He looked thin and unwell and Kurt remembers wondering why Finn was in the hospital.
He remembers a cold feeling in his chest, like death had taken his heart and replaced it with an ice cube. The cold feeling only grew as he learned of what had happened. Time passed. Finn and he adapted, they grew, but they hardly recovered.
Some days Kurt felt like he couldn't even stand up straight because of the gnawing void in his gut. Most days, he knew that he would never feel normal again.
Then, he met Blaine. Blaine, a wonderful boy that had struggled, had suffered, and still strove to understand every bit of Kurt.
Kurt knew there were parts of him that could never be understood, not by anyone, but death fixed that too.
It made them the same.
The coffee shop is emptying out. It's eleven p.m. and Kurt is more than happy to call it a night, even while most of the crowd heads further downtown to the bars. Finn jogs back to the stage from where he'd been chatting with the shop manager. He waves a yellow check in the air.
Kurt snatches it out of his hand. "Don't wave it around like that, Finn. Honestly." Kurt glances at the amount on the check. For a second, he wants to wave it around in happiness, too. Instead, he shoves it in his pocket and grins. "Are you hungry?"
Finn is packing their things up but pauses long enough to stick one hand out toward Kurt. "Have we met? Uh...yeah, I'm hungry. Nothing big, though. I have to get up early."
Kurt nods. Finn had been working with a construction firm for two months and was already promoted to drywall manager. Kurt's not sure what he does, but it sounds important, and he makes decent money.
Kurt shoves the rest of his things in his bag, turns around, and steps off the stage. Almost like magic, the crowd parts and Blaine comes bounding up to him, immediately leaning in for a quick kiss. "Hello."
"Hi." Kurt smiles. Blaine is glowing in a white t-shirt, tan from his work with a landscaping company. "You look great."
"Me?" Blaine scoffs. "Are you kidding? You obviously didn't see yourselves up there. It was incredible. Everyone loved it. You are incredible."
"You're only saying that because it's true." Kurt winks.
Together, they leave the cafe and head toward home, a tiny but serviceable two bedroom apartment on West Avenue. Finn leads the way. Kurt holds Blaine's hand to keep him back a little.
"How was your day?"
Blaine scrunches up his nose. "Long. Hot."
"You know, I don't mind it. It feels good to be able to actually do work and sweat and-"
"Thank you, Medicaid," Kurt sings.
Ahead of them, Finn closes his cell phone and slips it into his pocket. "Waffle House," he announces. "Rachel's going to meet us there."
Kurt pulls Blaine closer, taking hold of his arm. He sighs dramatically. "You and me, Blaine. We'll always have the Waffle House."
Blaine laughs. "I wouldn't have it any other way."
Kurt smiles at him, knowing that for Blaine, that's the truth. He pulls their clasped hands up and kisses the back of Blaine's hand. "Thank you."
"For being alive."
The fire is still a soft spot for all of them and Blaine winces. "Kurt..."
"For helping me be alive, too," Kurt continues undeterred. He knows now, that between life and death, he is firmly and solely interested in living. And part of living is saying every single thing that needs to be said. "For helping me not be afraid."
Blaine stops and pulls Kurt over to the brick side of a building.
"For making me feel safe again. For making me believe in my dreams." Kurt stops and just watches Blaine.
"Close your eyes," Blaine says.
"Are you afraid?"
"No," Kurt says. "Not at all." He feels Blaine's warm hands on either side of his face and then Blaine's lips on his. For a while, he doesn't think anything at all.
He lets go.
Close your eyes.
Now when I count to three, you open your eyes.
The past is gone, the world is a good place,
and it's all going to be okay.
Notes: This entire story came from a dream I had, almost identical to Kurt's dream in the second chapter. The idea and images stuck with me and the more I wrote, the deeper it went. The result is something that is very dear to me. I would love to hear your thoughts on it and I would absolutely take criticism over silence. Thank you so much for reading. :)