Disclaimer: I do not own Glee or any of its characters; Ryan Murphy and Co. hold that honor. I'm simply writing this for fun, not profit.

To always pick up your phone call.

The record-breaking low three percent turnout at the polls hadn't dampened his mood. He had been elated in the moment when Sue Sylvester, almost gagging with repulsion, had announced his name over the intercom. Everyone in his history class had breathed a collective sigh of relief before resuming ignoring Mrs. Keanes spirited attempts to keep their attention. In spite of the sudden, doubtless adrenaline-inspired urge to thrust the desk out of his path, he remained seated and even collected for the remainder of the lecture, only giving one quick fist-pump when the aging teacher turned her back on them.

The moment he burst into the hallway, it was different. He couldn't contain himself, grinning ear-to-ear as he made his way to his locker, avoiding gazes as he passed. Half of him wanted to greet everyone and shake their hands and thank them so much for giving this to him, this tangible reminder that he meant something to and at McKinley. He could already hear the sneers and disgusted scoffs that would be his only answer and so he refrained, sedately walking down the halls as though nothing were amiss. And nothing was. If ever there had been a time when he felt like clicking his heels together for the sheer joy of doing, then it would have been then.

Of course, all the breathless, barely contained enthusiasm burst out of him the moment when Sam all but tackled him against his locker, pounding his back and ruffling his gelled hair. Blaine saw him surreptitiously scrubbing the same hand for five minutes afterward (and god, if it hadn't taken him twenty minutes in the locker room to repair the rather extensive damage), but he still beamed and smiled and rattled off about a dozen inane possibilities for celebrating.

Blaine agreed to all of them twice over, clapping Sam on the back as he scurried off to his next class, his satchel slung crazily over his shoulder. He saw several of the hockey jocks snickering as he tripped over his own feet, narrowly avoiding barreling into the doorway to his English class. The hour and forty four minutes spent itching at his pencil and tapping his feet silently against the floorboard were almost mind-numbingly tedious, but he survived and before he knew it, he was hopping into the front seat of his red Jeep, jamming the keys in the ignition and peeling out of the parking lot.

He wasn't a reckless driver, but he still made record time to the Breadstix where, of course, Sugar opened a bottle of champagne in his face, apologizing sixty-seven times in the next four minutes for almost blinding him again before kissing his cheek and tossing him a pink towel. It all passed in a blur as he was passed off from random stranger to the next, each one less and less interested but still eagerly sampling the free refreshments Sugar had provided (apparently the only condition to gain entrance had been voting in the election).

Blaine beamed and smiled and shook hands and even hugged a few of them, his smile fading when he saw Artie sitting in the center of an aisle. Slowly, keeping his pace measured and his breathing calm, he approached the boy, offering a congratulatory smile and receiving a warm hand-shake in return. He couldn't help but think back to mere days before when they had been jamming out together in the choir room, practicing their moves over and over to try and help pull Brittany out of their funk. (And sweet merciful everything if it hadn't hurt when Artie ran over his big toe for the fifth time in as many minutes, still gamely offering to quit while Blaine insisted on continuing after a breather to survey the damage (after the seventh run-over six minutes later, they'd called it a day)).

They smiled and talked and even bantered a little, and Blaine was convinced that everything was going fine, really fine for once and he was well-adjusted and well-adapted and everything was in place like it should be when -

"So, how's Kurt taking all this?"

It was like the bottom dropped out of Blaine's world. He didn't faint, although it was a near thing as the familiar ringing started up in his ears. It reminded him of the time when four years ago a senior, illegally drunk on school property, had clocked him hard enough in the head to give him a concussion. He'd never forget that thick, underwater feeling, suffocating and abrasive, like someone was attempting to pull reality out from under him. Of course, he kept the false smile in place and managed to stay standing in front of Artie, determined not to succumb to the sensation.

"He's already got an inaugural ceremony all planned out," he fumbled, barely aware that he was speaking.

Artie nodded, offering a fist-bump as Sugar called him over. Blaine lifted his hand and weakly bumped it back, pulling out his phone the second Artie was gone.

He could feel eyes, dozens of eyes, boring over him, past him, through him. Ignoring them and the unspoken words, he unlocked his phone and, willing his fingers to remain steady and dammit, now was not the time to have numb fingers, he punched out the number, area code and all.

It seemed strange, having to include that - those three silly little numbers that had tripped him up more than once. They were haunting, a reminder that even on the most basic levels Kurt had changed, the simplest things altered. It was silly but he had still spent three hours that first night almost ready to throw his phone out the window from sheer frustration until Cooper texted him and the unfamiliar area code jostled his memory, reminding him that of course he had to put that in now that Kurt was in New York and he was in Ohio and things like that weren't on the same wavelength.

Tapping his foot anxiously as he waited, glad that the buzz of conversation muffled the noise, he paced towards the opposite wall, holding the phone close to his ear.

If he closed his eyes, then he could see him, see Kurt lounging in his dingy little loft that he lovingly referred to as his nest in New York. He loved that apartment with more passion than Blaine had ever seen him express for even his prized possessions back at home, his vanity and bed and dressers and cabinets and mirrors and God, Blaine knew them all too well. He knew Kurt's room better than his own at that point, and there were fewer clothes in his own. (Most of his clothes were Kurt's designs, too, Kurt's selections, Kurt's suggestions, Kurt's outfits that he gallantly tried and even wore to school when he found them to his liking and no, Cooper, Kurt didn't dress him all the time.)

He waited. And waited. Each long, echoing thrum seemed to tear something within him, pulling and abrasive. He wanted to throw his phone to the floor, to get away from it and rejoin the happy unreality that awaited him, to pretend that the greatest of his concerns was the people around him and the party thrown in his honor. (And how, how Sugar set up these things on such short notice would forever be a mystery to him but then he made the mistake of looking down at his watch and it was already seven and why wasn't Kurt picking up?)

He didn't hear the soft, finite tap of a fingertip against an iPhone hundreds of miles away.

He did hear the low, repetitive hum of a voice answering mechanism, still pre-set to the original, automated response, with the sole Kurt Hummel slipped in mid-spiel to designate the owner. Two words, and they weren't even his.

Blaine closed his eyes and hit end, his eyes burning.

To always answer your phone call.

To always answer your phone call.

To -

Viciously, he pocketed the phone, resisting the urge to wrap his arms around himself.

He couldn't do this. He couldn't pretend that this was okay anymore, that Kurt being gone wasn't ripping him apart, that it hadn't hurt the first time someone had slushied him at McKinley even though it had only been a stupid orange slushy because dammit he hated orange and it didn't come out of the crisp white shirt that Kurt had lovingly paired with so many of his outfits and now Kurt didn't even care which bow tie he wore to his debate and why the hell would Kurt care about a bow tie when he was in New York?

A cool hand settled on his shoulder. He drew in one deep breath, and then another, and turned to face Sam.

"I can't do this anymore."

The words were out of his mouth before he could stop them. He saw Sam's brow furrow in a frown, his happy expression dropping as suddenly as though he'd announced that the entire election was a sham. Which, he realized, without a trace of resentment, it was. Bitterness welled on his mouth until he feared that sick, roiling feeling in his gut was real and God, he couldn't throw up now, not in front of everyone, he had to geta grip.

He didn't know how he made it to the table. He barely registered speaking, his clammy hands grasping at straws, at the smooth surface of the table itself, at anything. He felt Sam's gaze, calculating and shocked, but he didn't see him, didn't see anything other than you promised, Kurt, you promised we promised this was going to work.

"You're not alone."

Blaine blinked. He looked at Sam, looked at him, and felt some of his equilibrium return. Sure, he hadn't looked for him as a vice presidential candidate - hell, if he had had his pick, then he probably would have picked Marley or someone with at least rudimentary debate skills - but he had pulled through when it counted and if ripping one's shirt off in public did the trick, why the hell not. If it could make him feel even a breath less like he was suffocating, then Blaine would have gladly strutted nude across the stage. Still, the act of camaraderie - idiotically misplaced in a serious political debate but delightfully spontaneous in a high school environment - had touched him. And seeing Sam now grounded him.

The suffocating wasn't real. The drowning wasn't real. None of that was real.

Kurt was gone, but he wasn't gone. He was still within reach. Blaine just . . . had to be patient.

Had to live without his presence.

Blaine swallowed.

"Are you gonna be okay?" Sam asked softly, clearly at the end of his spiel, extending a hand to grip Blaine's shoulder once reassuringly. He nodded unthinkingly, pulling away so he could stand up and smile and accept a hug, blinking back the wetness in his eyes.

"I'm gonna be fine," he assured.

He'll call back.

He's probably busy.

He has things to do now.

Things you're not a part of.

Things you may never be a part of.

Blaine made it to the outer door of the Breadstix before sinking to his knees against the wall, head in his hands.

He didn't feel very presidential or in charge or in control.

I have to do something.

He pushed himself up from the pavement, willing himself not to be seen as he darted back out to his car.

I have to do something.

He punched in Kurt's number again silently as he leaned against the hood of his Jeep, and waited.

Ten seconds passed.

Blaine closed his eyes and stuffed his phone back into his pocket with trembling fingers.

Kurt Hummel cannot be reached at this time, please leave a message after the tone.


Author's Notes: This episode. Ripped. My. Heart. Out.

God help us all when The Break Up comes.

More to come soon. Editing, too.

This is just raw Blaine feelings right here.

Review?

Disclaimer: I don't blame Kurt for what he did during the episode.

Allow me to reiterate: I don't blame Kurt for not picking up Blaine's phone call. I don't blame Kurt for not focusing on Blaine during the Skype calls. I don't blame Kurt for being a little selfish about his own future.

I wrote this one-shot from Blaine's perspective, so it will lean towards his bias, but I understand that there are two sides to this story. I present to you here only a small, fractured portion of one side. Make of it what you will, but I hope that I'm not giving a false impression that I personally dislike Kurt and/or think he deserves what's coming. I want the best for both of them, and I hope with this to emphasize that change in Kurt and Blaine's relationship needs to occur before there can be true resolution.