It's a fix. Kurt is sure of it. Especially when he sees the glint in Rachel's eye that makes him wonder how exactly she could've rigged the draw, but with no doubt in his mind that she did.
"So, I guess we're partners." Blaine smiles awkwardly as he appears at Kurt's side. "In the - in the driving sense, that is, not… not in the real life sense. I mean, not that I wouldn't, you know I want that. Not that I'm pushing… shit…" Kurt winces as Blaine trips over his words. He chooses to ignore him and continues to watch everyone else get paired up. Oh God. This is going to be so awkward. It already is awkward and, for the first time, he truly regrets selling his car to get money for New York. He'd volunteered with Rachel to help get people who need it to the polling booths, but Kurt's not sure he would've agreed if he'd have known he'd have to do it with Blaine.
"Shall we go?" Kurt says, taking a deep breath and turning to look at Blaine for the first time. Blaine beams back at him.
"Yeah, let's go, pardner," Blaine laughs before visibly wincing again, not noticing Kurt smiling gently, almost feeling sorry for him. Blaine has clearly been listening to Sam far too much – impersonations are so not the way to break the tension.
"Um, I think we need to get our list of destinations from Rachel before we do."
"Oh, I already have it," Blaine smiles again and waves a sheet in the air, desperate to do anything right – anything that might get a smile out of Kurt, maybe even a small amount of forgiveness. Kurt simply nods and walks away from him, assuming that he'll follow as he makes his way to Blaine's car.
He stands by the car and tries to avoid looking at Blaine as he unlocks it, hoping that by ignoring his very existence, it will make this whole process easier, because this is already far too familiar. Kurt has to try his hardest to suppress the memories from just being in Blaine's car, but they've spent so much time in this car together that the memories unavoidably come rushing back; all the times they sang to and with each other as they drove, laughing at Blaine's stupid jokes, the time they forgot to fill up on gas because they were too busy arguing about something or other. Kurt tries especially hard not to remember how they'd ended up stranded on the side of the road and how hard and quickly they'd fucked on the backseat waiting for roadside assistance to come and get them, instantly forgiving each other for whatever it was they'd argued about.
Blaine smiles at him hopefully as he climbs into the car, but Kurt continues to ignore him, instead concentrating on the list of addresses that they need to get to. Maybe he can find ways of pairing people who live near to each other up so that they can get this done with sooner.
The first few journeys they do almost in silence, with only the noise of Blaine's TomTom directing them playing in the background. Even that is awkward; even that has a memory attached of the time that Blaine tried to get Kurt to record the directions, but wouldn't stop kissing him to let him actually do it, so they ended up just having the sound of their giggles recorded. Kurt then forced Blaine to use them for a week as "punishment" and soon regretted it when they got lost in the outskirts of Ohio.
At least Kurt can feel like they are doing something good. Maybe, he thinks, this can make up a small amount for how tense this is going to be. He's voted already, of course for Obama, so each person that they drop off at the polling station makes him feel like he's voting all over again; it makes him feel like a part of it – a part of the change in the world.
After a while, they silently fall into a pattern, not talking, just doing. Kurt is the one to get out at each house and knock, helping them to the car if need be and then, when they get to the polling station, Blaine's the one to help them in and wait as they vote, while Kurt works out where they're going next. It's enough to mean they're making good time and that Kurt can start to relax; enough that, when Kurt notices a crack on Blaine's dashboard, he doesn't feel uncomfortable pointing it out to him.
"Oh, uh, yeah that… that's nothing…" Blaine stammers, flushing slightly as Kurt gazes at him questioningly. Kurt wonders if Blaine's forgotten how well he knows him – he's clearly hiding something.
"What happened, I don't remember it being there last… uh… from before?" Kurt nervously runs his finger along the crack, realising that the last time he was in this car was when they were still together - when things were still good between them. It isn't as if things are bad now exactly, they just aren't anything. They aren't boyfriends, but they're not really broken up either.
"It doesn't matter." Blaine shrugs as they pull up at the next stop.
"Did you have an accident?" Kurt asks, pushing him maybe more than he should. "Or did it happen while you were driving - I've heard things like this can happen from bumps in the road? Have you been to see someone about getting it fixed, because it could mean something else is wrong with the car?" Blaine shuts his eyes tightly in frustration.
"No, Kurt, it's nothing like that just… just drop it ok?" Blaine frowns at him before turning and staring straight ahead at the road, waiting for Kurt to leave the subject alone so they can carry on with their day.
"Fine," Kurt says sulkily, unbuckling his belt. He gets out of the car and shuts the door a little bit harder than usual before briskly walking away. The day continues with them slipping back into silence – Blaine hating himself for snapping at Kurt and Kurt sulking. They're both polite to everyone that comes along, not a single one of their passengers being astute – or interested - enough to know that there's a problem between them, but they know they'd rather get this over and done with so they can go back to pretending not to miss each other. That's at least something that they could start to get used to if the other one is not around.
They finally make their way through the list and both notice at the same moment that they're onto the last name. Blaine looks at the list and back up at Kurt, considering if now is the time to say something, but the way Kurt has his arms crossed and his staring out of the passenger window makes him think otherwise. He places the list down and starts the car up.
It doesn't take long for them to get to their destination, but it does take Kurt quite a while to get back with their next, and last, voter after knocking on her door – Mrs Edith Walker, a lady who looks so fragile that Kurt is initially worried about the possibility that he might break her, but she manages to swear so many times in the short space between her home and the car that he changes his mind almost instantly.
"Fuck Romney," she says the second she gets into the car, making Blaine snort out a laugh that makes Kurt's stomach flip. He hasn't heard that laugh in so long and it registers faintly in his mind that he might miss it. "Now let's get to that station so we can make sure he loses," she says with a sly grin and Blaine promptly nods, smiles at her in his rear view mirror and pulls away.
As they drive, Edith - who Blaine continues to call Mrs Walker no matter how many times she insists on being called Edie - chatters away. She shares every detail possible about her life, her kids, and her husband who passed just a few years ago. Kurt feels like he knows her better than he knows himself as the journey goes on, but it's comfortable. It gives him the opportunity to be distracted and not have to think about talking, or not talking, to Blaine and what he should say, or if he should say anything.
Every so often, Edie says something that makes Blaine laugh loudly, or reminds Kurt of an in-joke they share. Each time, Kurt turns automatically towards Blaine, habitually moving to give him a meaningful look, to see if he gets the joke or shares the memory. Their eyes meet for a millisecond – a fleeting moment - until Kurt remembers what happened and looks away again, the feeling of hurt and upset coming rushing back to him like a tidal wave.
"He was a scoundrel, was my Bernie," Edith giggles when they are about five minutes away from the polling station. "All the ladies loved him, and boy did he love the ladies too. They were so jealous when he ended up marrying me. He was always so charming, and funny. That was the thing that I loved the most, the fact that we always laughed so much together."
"Sounds perfect," Kurt comments quietly, gazing out of the window and sighing.
"Oh, don't be so stupid," Edie scoffs, "nothing's perfect. We had screaming rows all the time over the stupidest little things, he was always away with his work, he even cheated on me once when I was pregnant with our first child. I told you, he was a scoundrel, but he was my scoundrel." Kurt hums and nods absently, ignoring the way Blaine's hand moves from the gear stick and hovers towards his knee before he seemingly changes his mind and moves it back again.
"So have you boys voted yet?" Edie asks after a beat of silence, noticing the tension between them and swiftly changing the subject. They both nod and she grins widely. "Good. All of my kids have too, and each one of them Obama. After my oldest girl came out at her Pa's funeral, there was no way we couldn't vote for him." There's a sudden glimmer of sadness in her eyes as she speaks, a memory that maybe she wishes she didn't have, but that she's not going to hold back on. "I hadn't even realised and she said that she couldn't have told me while he was alive. He wouldn't have been unhappy about it, but we both knew he'd have had trouble accepting it." Edie sighs and pulls her purse in closer to her body defensively. "To have my own child stand in front of me and tell me that someone else made her feel like she couldn't truly be herself, broke my heart. After that, there's no way anyone would be able to support that continuing. I loved Bernie with all my heart, but he was wrong about a lot of important things."
When she finishes speaking, Blaine sniffs gently and Kurt turns in time to see him wipe his eyes as they pull up to the polling station again. Kurt knows Blaine was thinking of his own father, of how he had reacted the same way when Blaine had come out. Not angry, or rude, just disappointed and not able to understand how any son of his could want to be with other men. He had loved Blaine a little bit less, made off-hand comments here and there, let their relationship fall apart just enough for Blaine to feel left out at every family event. Kurt can see in Blaine's eyes how much he relates to Edie's daughter, and how much he wishes he didn't. For a moment, Kurt realises how much bigger than them this whole voting thing is, how important it is, and, even if he does have to do it with Blaine, how glad he is that he can help people like Edie get to vote in the hope that it'll make a real difference.
"Ok, uhm," Blaine clears his throat, trying to avoid showing either of his passengers that he's upset, before opening his door to get out, "shall we get inside then?" Kurt instinctively reaches out and grips his arm, soothingly.
"I'll go. You should - you should stay here." Kurt gives Blaine a small smile, sensing that he probably needs to take a few moments, and hops out of the car. It's a small gesture, one that would go unnoticed by a lot of people, but to Blaine, it's something. It's a silent 'I still care about you. I care about your needs.' Blaine thinks that he probably shouldn't read too much into it, shouldn't assume that it's anything other than Kurt just being friendly, and definitely shouldn't be watching Kurt walk away, wondering if his ass has always looked this good, or if it's just from a lack of being acquainted with it that makes it seem that way. The sudden realisation of how long it is since he's been that close to Kurt makes Blaine tear up completely and turn away from them, losing himself in his own thoughts about his Dad, Kurt, everything.
Kurt carefully helps Edie into the polling station, giving her his arm to lean on when she needs it and holding her bag as she flirts with every volunteer in the station. They eventually make it to the booth and he waits outside while she votes. He decided at least fifteen minutes ago that he likes Edie and he's glad that Blaine had let him take her into the station. Partly because he knows Blaine needs some time alone, but partly because something she had said in the car intrigued him, and he really wanted the time alone with her to ask her about it.
When she's done, Edie swings open the curtain as if she's the main act of a show and grins at him.
"All done," she smiles at Kurt. "And I made sure to put a big cross in the box for Mr Romney so that they would know that I definitely didn't want him to win."
"Oh… Oh!" Kurt's eyes widen for a second as he processes what she's done, until he notices the glint in her eye and the tiny smile that's dancing on her lips.
"Just kidding," she winks and elbows Kurt in the ribs playfully. "I'm old, dear, I'm not bloody senile too." Kurt laughs gently and holds out his arm for her to grip as she waves goodbye to everyone else at the polling station. They start the slow walk back outside and Kurt can't help but think about how this is the last trip he and Blaine will be taking together today. He can't decide if it's a good thing or not.
"You look sad," Edie says suddenly, gripping Kurt's arm tighter. She looks at Kurt with the kind of well-placed concern that you might get from a grandparent, or teacher. Someone close enough to care, but enough on the periphery of your life to not be swayed by other people's opinions, it only mattering how you're doing. "You know, I met a lovely young boy in there that I could go back and introduce you to, if you like." Edie winks at him and shuffles closer, as if she is sharing a secret.
"How do you know I'm even gay?" Kurt asks, smiling teasingly. Edie doesn't respond, answering instead with a sarcastic look and a raise of her eyebrows. "Right, old but not senile," Kurt laughs gently. "Well, thank you, but that's not the problem." Kurt pauses and chews on his lip, wondering if he should even dare to have this conversation with someone. He hasn't even had this conversation with Rachel, but then maybe it would be easier with a stranger - an unbiased opinion. "I was hoping to ask you something, though, if you don't mind?"
"Ask me anything."
"In the car - you said your husband cheated on you?"
"But… but you stayed together?"
"How?" Edie immediately stops in her tracks, making Kurt stop too and turn towards her. She eyes him suspiciously, clearly seeing that there is a lot more to his question than just an interest in her past.
"How did we stay together after my husband cheated on me?" Kurt nods, taking a deep breath so he can hold back the lump that's suddenly started forming in his throat. "A lot of late nights, a lot of tears, and a lot of love." She says simply, pausing as Kurt nods and looks to the ground, finding it more difficult to hold back now. "Is it the boy in the car?" She asks quietly. Kurt nods again and sniffs.
"We were together, and then he cheated on me and now… now I don't even know what we are."
"What do you want to be?" Kurt takes a deep breath as he thinks about his answer. He hasn't really thought about it until now. All he had thought about was how much Blaine had hurt him, how much he didn't want to trust him, or to be a push-over – to give in to him just because he feels like he can't breathe without him. Is that enough of a reason to forgive someone?
"I want to be ok. I want us to be ok. I want to feel like there'll be a time when I stop picturing him with someone else and… and I want to know that it's ok to still be in love with him." As soon as the confession has left Kurt's lips, he realises why it's been so difficult to even think about this. The fact of the matter is, no matter how hurt he feels, he's still completely and totally in love with Blaine. Edie smiles and squeezes Kurt's arm reassuringly.
"Of course it's ok to still be in love with him. Those feelings don't just go away, you know. When I found out that Bernie cheated on me, I hated him. It was at the worst time because I was pregnant and felt so swollen and ugly, I needed him more than ever. I made him sleep on the couch for a year, until I missed him so much, one day I went and slept on it with him."
"But, how did you get over it?" Kurt asks, hoping for there to be a simple answer. One that would mean he could just go back to Blaine now and have everything go back to how it was before all of this mess.
"Time." Edie shrugs. "I know it sounds cliché, but it's true. As time went on, I learned to trust him again, I remembered why I feel in love with him in the first place and I was able to move on. I couldn't do that the day after I found out. For a while I couldn't even stand close to him, but eventually we got past it." Kurt turns and looks at Blaine in the distance in his car waiting for them. He knows that they haven't gone away, none of his feelings for Blaine have left - they're just over-ridden by his hurt. "It's not meant to be easy, Kurt. Nothing good in life is. Relationships take work, they have bad times and sometimes it's the most difficult thing in the world; sometimes the bad times feel like they're never going to end, but they will. You're only young, you've got so much time and learning ahead of you. If you really want to work past it, you can." Kurt doesn't respond, his gaze fixed on Blaine in the car as they start to walk again. He does want to work past it, he really does.
They fall silent as he helps Edie back into the car. Kurt can see from the look in Blaine's eyes that he's been crying, but has managed to pull himself together in time for them to return. This time, Edie doesn't speak at all on the journey back, instead watching them to see if they talk to each other at all. Kurt doesn't even notice, too wrapped up in his own thoughts to know what's going on around him and coming to the realisation that Blaine is his life. One day he'll have to forgive him. One day they'll have to move on, because there's no way they can't be together.
They pull up to Edie's house and Kurt quickly jumps out to help her inside, before Blaine has a chance to offer. He swings her door open and smiles, holding out his arm for her to brace herself on as she gets out. They walk a few steps before she finally breaks the silence.
"He's handsome," Edie says, interrupting Kurt's thoughts. He smiles for a second and nods.
"I certainly wouldn't kick him out of bed for having cold feet." She winks at him making him laugh and gasp, pretending to be shocked by her comment.
"Hands off, Edie, I'm not sure I'm done with him yet." Kurt laughs again and takes a deep cathartic breath as they reach the door. "Thank you for your advice," he says, bending down to give her a tight squeeze, "I really appreciate it."
"Oh please," she says, pulling away and batting his arm playfully. "You would've worked it out on your own someday, dear." Kurt smiles fondly, giving her one more hug before she heads back into the house. He turns around and steadily walks back to the car, making a plan to at least talk to Blaine about this before he leaves. His heart nervously flutters as he gets into the car and they drive off. It isn't meant to be easy, Edie's words repeat in his mind as he struggles to think about how to start the conversation. He's almost delighted when, after a few minutes, Blaine is the first to speak.
"I did it." Blaine says quietly, his eyes trained on the road.
"The crack. I made the crack." Kurt turns and looks back at Blaine's dashboard, following the line of the crack in it with his eyes. "It was just after I last saw you in New York. I was so mad at everything. At you, me, fucking Facebook, everything, that I just lashed out and punched it and it cracked." Blaine chooses to leave the, 'just like we cracked'unsaid, knowing that Kurt is thinking it anyway.
"You were mad at me?" Kurt asks, the lump in his throat appearing again.
"I thought you were moving on, Kurt. You were living this amazing new life without me and being fine with it. I hated that you didn't need me like I needed you; that you were coping so well without me whereas I was finding being without you the most difficult thing I've ever had to do." Kurt feels his anger returning far quicker than it had vanished.
"You think I wasn't finding it difficult? You think that I wasn't just keeping myself busy so that I could avoid thinking about how much I missed you each and every second of my day? And excuse me for being successful, for actually having something good happen to me for a change-"
"Kurt," Blaine interrupts, looking back at the road, "I said I was mad at you, I never said I was thinking rationally. Of course you should have good things happen to you, I want the best things to happen to you, I just felt like I wasn't one of them." Kurt opens and closes his mouth, wanting to respond, but not finding the words. He instead goes back to staring at the crack, trying not to laugh at how convenient it is to have their relationship represented so perfectly right in front of him.
Blaine pulls up to Kurt's house and waits for him to get out. Kurt turns to Blaine and realises instantly, now that he's gazed at him with so much hope, that he can't do it. He can't have this conversation with him, not when there is so much to say and when it won't repair anything anywhere near well enough. They need action, they need time, and they need each other. It's the only way to fix this.
Kurt doesn't leave like Blaine expects him to. Instead, he leans forwards and slips his hand into Blaine's, silently accepting the time, and the idea of letting some things go while still tightly holding on to others. Blaine's hand instantly closes around it. He shuts his eyes and huffs out a loud, relieved sigh, as if he'd been holding his breath waiting for Kurt to make this move. Maybe he had.
"You know, I can probably fix that crack for you, if you'd like me to?" Kurt asks and Blaine turns towards him, his eyes glistening and watery. "We're not ok," he says abruptly, "but we will be. I just need time – we need time - but I'm willing to work on it if you are."
"Of course. Of course." Blaine smiles and moves forwards as if to kiss Kurt, before second thinking himself. "I'd-I'd really like to kiss you right now… would that be ok?" Blaine asks timidly. Kurt holds his breath. It's a big step. Maybe too big. Maybe not big enough.
"I'm not sure if I'm there yet," he says automatically, before instantly regretting it. Blaine sits back, a little broken and nods, accepting anything Kurt's willing to give to him, even rejection. Screw it, Kurt thinks before rushing towards Blaine and pressing their lips together, swallowing Blaine's gasp as he does.
His entire body feels like it instantly relaxes as they finally kiss after so much time. It's old and familiar and wonderful. He grips Blaine's arms tightly, almost to steady himself and hums, wondering for a second why they hadn't kissed in so long, before reminding himself. It'll take a while before he stops doing that.
Blaine on the other hand takes a few seconds to fall back into their familiar rhythm. He's known for a while that he doesn't deserve Kurt's kisses, as much as he wants them, so he's done a lot more to forget them than Kurt has. Their lips at first don't quite fit together perfectly, their timing is slightly out of sync, but once he's calmed himself down, realising that Kurt isn't going anywhere, he kisses back with fervour.
Blaine unbuckles his seatbelt and moves towards Kurt, pushing him back into his seat and further, until they are pressed against the side of his car, his body almost on top of Kurt's. It's so perfectly how he remembers it that he almost wants to cry. The way Kurt's tongue flicks out, teasingly, before almost instantly coming back for more, or how if he sucks on Kurt's lips just a bit harder than normal, Kurt will make the most delicious noises. Even the way that Kurt slowly moves his arms to drape over Blaine's shoulders - it's all there.
"Wait, wait," Kurt says, pulling away a little breathless. Blaine looks down at him nervously, ready to move away if it's too much, too soon. "Who did you vote for?" A smile stretches across Blaine's face as he realises that Kurt isn't asking him to stop.
"Because if it was Romney, I'm not sure this will work." Blaine laughs and rests his forehead on Kurt's shoulder before leaning back to look at him again.
"I'm not telling you," he says teasingly, "you'll have to force it out of me." Kurt smiles widely and stretches up to peck Blaine on the lips.
"Oh, I think I could do that," he whispers as he pulls Blaine back on top of him. And he can, he can do it all – they can do it all and for the first time in a long time, Kurt is certain that, with a bit of time (and sealant), the crack will fix.