Author's Note: I apologise for the Blangst/Klangst. Please, do try to forgive me.
"Hey there, pretty boy, where do you think you're going?"
Blaine exhaled sharply, his lungs piercing with each staccato breath. He wasn't aware of how long he'd been on the ground—and when had the sun gone down? His heart thumped wildly against his fragile ribs, gracing him with the image of it bursting right through his brittle chest. He told himself he needed to get up, to find help, but some pretentious part of his brain insisted on staying down and resting; the rest of it tried to work out what had happened. Blurred faces attached themselves to giants with baseball bats; his body ached all over as he relived each hateful blow.
"I—I don't want any trouble—"
"Shut up, faggot."
He flinched at the memory of the first contact—metal bat to the back of his knee—and his entire body tingled dauntingly. It was no use; none of his limbs were cooperating. Something far more pressing disturbed him though—he could actually feel all of the blood leaving his body, trickling out from untraceable orifices, and suddenly he realised his jeans were halfway down and he was soaked and sticky. He clenched his eyes shut, his stomach lurching viciously as he recalled the other use his attackers had found for the baseball bat. When everything ached all over it was difficult to pinpoint the exact locations of real damage; he narrowed it down to "everywhere" and wished, more than anything, he could at least cover himself up before someone found him.
If someone found him.
The idea of being left all alone, no saviour, elicited a gasping sob from deep within his raw vocal chords. No one was going to find him; he was going to lay in this muddy field until he bled out or dehydrated himself after several hours of straight crying. The faint glow of headlights caught his attention, the pale yellow making him feel dizzy and drunk, but he couldn't bring himself to cry out.
Help. Please help. Please see me.
He considered his chances and the outlook seemed grim; it was dark and he was laying on the ground. Unless someone was actually looking for him, there was no possibility he'd be discovered accidentally by passing cars. But the headlights grew closer still and for one terrifying moment Blaine was unable to tell if the ground beneath him was actually soft earth or if his attackers had left him in the middle of the street. The screeching of tires cut through the typical silence of the Ohio night, but he couldn't make out the car through the bright glow of the headlights. Rushed footsteps approached him, each thudding stride leaving him a little more disoriented as it sent shockwaves through his aching head.
"Hey, are you alright?" Blaine's heart seized up at the strangely familiar tone of voice. Do I know you? Have we met? "Kid, can you hear m—Blaine...?" Burt Hummel knelt down beside the boy that—despite knowing for at least a year by now—he could barely recognise through the bruises, blood, and dwindling will to survive.
At the mention of his name, Blaine sobbed in reply, a gut wrenchingly desperate, terrified broken sound that he'd grown accustomed to making—in solitude—in the weeks since his and Kurt's break-up. Whoever it was that was there beside him knew who he was. With trembling persistence, he tried to move his hands to his jeans to pull them up.
"No, no, no, don't move. Here, I've got it. It's okay, you'll be okay," Burt hurriedly—and carefully—worked Blaine's jeans up his slender waist. "Can you move? Is it okay if I move you?" He repositioned his hands from Blaine's jeans to his torso, then to his shoulders as though he was unable to decide the best way to go about helping him up. Blaine mouthed a silent reply and swallowed back another sob. As Burt slowly began to sit him up, Blaine couldn't hold back his scream, pure agony tearing right through him. Burt hugged Blaine close to his chest and whispered apologies that didn't belong to him.
"I know, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I've got you, it's going to be okay," Burt sat still with him for a moment, allowing Blaine a break before standing up, cradling the small boy in his arms. Blaine gritted his teeth, embarrassed by the painful noises he couldn't contain; even with the absence of physical pain he'd been so unable to maintain his composure lately. "Hang in there, buddy."
Blaine didn't want to listen anymore. With each careful stride Burt took back to the car Blaine clenched his teeth a little more, until the pain was so overwhelming it practically blinded him. By the time Burt had placed him in the backseat of his truck, consciousness had already slipped away from Blaine.
The last time Burt had been in the waiting room of a hospital Kurt had just turned eight. They'd been out to dinner as a family for the first time in months when Elizabeth Hummel excused herself from the table and collapsed on the way to the bathroom. Though Burt was alone now, and though it was many years later, he could still imagine Kurt beside him, his legs dangling off of the chair as he silently took in his surroundings.
Burt sat there now in his own silent debate; he knew that Kurt and Blaine had broken up, though Kurt still kept the reason a secret, but he couldn't picture his son just erasing Blaine from his life completely. He wanted to protect Kurt from more heartache, but Blaine had become like family... surely Kurt deserved to know what happened and Blaine deserved the all of the support he could get. Burt twirled his phone between his hands, chewing on his lip and trying to think of a reason not to call Kurt. He failed and put the phone to his ear.
"Dad, you know you don't have to call me to tell me 'goodnight' every night, right?" Kurt's voice resounded in his head, tired and stressed.
"It's not that, I need to talk to you about something," Burt knew that he would have to speak quickly if he wanted to get his point across without any of Kurt's usual interruptions.
"I'm fine, if that's what it is you want to talk about."
"No, but it is about Blaine—" he could actually feel Kurt tense up through the receiver at the mention of the name.
"I don't want to talk about Blaine, dad."
"Just... hear me out—"
"It's sweet that you're trying to 'fix us,' dad, but—"
"Kurt, stop it. Just stop it and listen to me," Burt spoke through his teeth, not really angry with Kurt, worry and impatience dripping off of his tongue. At Kurt's prolonged silence—a grand total of three seconds—he continued. "I found him while I was leaving the shop—"
"He was waiting for you outside of work?" Kurt blurted out, a touch of anger hanging onto his words.
"Fine, I'm sorry—wait... found? What do you mean you found him?"
"Somebody—he's—Kurt, he's in a really bad way right now. Someone beat the living hell out of the poor kid," there was silence followed by a clatter; Burt guessed Kurt must have dropped his phone. He waited a few seconds until he heard his son's voice again.
"W-what? He—oh god. Oh my god. How bad?" Kurt's voice traveled between registers, wobbly and high pitched.
"Kurt," Burt tried to redirect, softly.
"Dad, how bad?" Kurt sniffled loudly.
"He was unconscious when I found him." He wouldn't stop crying and begging for help. I could barely recognise him.
"He's not—I mean, he's okay, isn't he?" Burt lowered his head into his hand, covering his eyes. "Isn't he?" Kurt demanded.
"I don't know," Burt replied truthfully. "Look, I know that you boys have got your own... issues between each other right now, but I think he really needs us, Kurt. As friends, as family—whatever."
"I—no, yeah. Of course. I'm already looking up flights right now."
"Someone beat the living hell out of the poor kid."
The words echoed through Kurt's head on the duration of the flight, heavy and loud just far too real. Blaine, his Blaine—no, that wasn't quite right. Blaine wasn't his anymore. Blaine wasn't anyone's, and neither was Kurt. But the news still burned just the same. Sure, he felt angry, upset, betrayed—but he never wished harm on Blaine. While he agreed with his father, that Blaine would need them, it did nothing to untie the anxious knot in his stomach that only seemed to contort itself even further the more he tried to will it away. He hadn't seen Blaine for weeks, had tried to push away all thoughts of him and busy himself with work and Rachel and Brody and Chase and his second audition at NYADA and—
How is it going to feel to see him again?
He couldn't let himself think of Blaine in the messy terms of "boyfriend" or "ex-boyfriend." Not now. Not anymore. Right now, he needed to remember "my friend Blaine."
My friend Blaine, who's in the hospital after getting the shit kicked out of him. Again.
He closed his eyes and swallowed hard at the memory of Blaine's pre-prom confession. Kurt knew that Blaine still had issues to sort through with the first attack, he was terrified to think of how a second one was going to effect him now. Especially in the midst of their break-up.
Which was his fault. Don't feel sorry for him, don't let yourself get trapped like this.
This was all too much for his fragile, confused heart to take.
He spotted Finn waiting for him at the terminal, expression serious and melancholy, and made his way over. They didn't exchange a word as they embraced each other, Kurt uncertain of what to say, Finn unwilling to upset Kurt further. Within the hour, they were at the hospital and Kurt was swept away in his father's arms before he had time to blink. They stood there for a few minutes, just drinking in each other's presence, before Burt pulled away and cleared his throat. "How was the flight?"
"Dad," Kurt's eyes softened to match his tone. "I can handle it, go ahead. You don't have to distract me."
Burt nodded once and took a seat where he proceeded to remove his baseball cap and twist it into knots in his hands. Kurt cringed as he watched his father work permanent crinkles into the material. "They uh—they said there's haemorrhaging in his brain."
Kurt took a step back as all of the air evacuated his lungs. He understood the situation was serious when Burt had told him about it, but he was still childish enough to overlook this type of serious.
"I don't—I don't understand," Kurt stammered and stared at his father. "I don't understand, what does that mean?" He looked between Burt and Finn, who both looked back at him with such great sadness in their eyes it was as though they'd already given up hope.
"It means... it means that he might not wake up, Kurt. They're trying to get swelling in his brain to go down, but..."
"Maybe I should make some calls?" Finn suggested in quiet resignation. "Get whoever I can to come down here to visit?"
"He's going to be fine," Kurt spun around to face him and snarled in response. "I can't believe you two, you're just so willing to say goodbye to him?"
And just like that, their entire relationship rushed past his eyes in a short, hazy summary:
I'm never saying goodbye to you.
My missing puzzle piece.
Don't give up hope, ever.
This is a song I sang the first time I ever met the love of my life.
I was with someone.
It was just a hook up.
I didn't care about him.
Kurt, I need to talk to you.
I told you, I'm never saying goodbye to you.
"Kurt, I'm just trying to—" Finn unknowingly cut through the whirlwind currently existing within Kurt.
"Finn," Burt shook his head.
"This isn't happening," Kurt blurted out, anger quickly deflating. "This isn't happening."
"I'm sorry, kiddo," Burt pulled Kurt into his arms. Kurt sank into the embrace, glistening eyes transfixed on a muddy footprint on the floor. Finn quietly slipped away and within the next two hours familiar faces began trickling in to offer their sincerest condolences. Kurt tuned out every one of them; the scene transported him back to his mother's funeral, he couldn't think about Blaine like that, not yet, not ever.
"I need a minute," he announced through the thick fog of growing numbness. Nobody questioned him as he stood up and walked outside. He shivered as a gust of wind blew through him and recoiled as an image of Blaine, freezing and begging for help, filled his head. Ex-boyfriend or not, he knew he couldn't stomach losing Blaine.
Three days crept by and more and more friends appeared whenever Kurt, Burt, Finn and Carole had visited. Rachel had flown in the day after Kurt, leaving his side only to stop off at home to pick up a change of clothes. Puck had burst in with Sam shortly after Rachel arrived, nearly hysterical. The rest was just a blur from then on for Kurt. Santana couldn't even bring herself to respond with her usual snark, which—to be honest—Kurt would have appreciated more than anything. Nothing felt normal anymore.
The hospital had finally allowed them into Blaine's room and Kurt sat, fists clenched, beside a bed that was much too big for Blaine. In the three days that passed, Kurt had seen every member of New Directions and a handful of the Warblers... but Blaine's parents still had yet to make an appearance. Kurt was able to get in touch with Cooper earlier in the morning at least, who assured Kurt that he was well on his way and would be there as soon as possible. But even the hospital couldn't seem to get in touch with Mr. and Mrs. Anderson. The more Kurt thought about it, the more his emotions shifted back and forth from anger to sorrow—he felt like a pendulum in motion, unable to control where it was he should settle. Even after knowing Blaine for over a year, the Andersons still felt like ghosts. He'd met them once in the infant days of his and Blaine's friendship, but they were rarely ever home.
"Still haven't come in?" Burt strode into the room with a takeout container. Kurt narrowed his eyes at the styrofoam in disgust, despite having no idea what was actually inside. "Relax, it's a salad. Figured you couldn't really stomach anything else right now."
"No, they haven't come in," Kurt's features relaxed, his scowl dissolving into apathy. "Thanks, I'll pick at it in a bit, probably."
Burt nodded over at Blaine, his face questioning and hopeful, but Kurt shook his head sadly in response. The doctors had cut away part or Blaine's skull to help the swelling in his brain to shrink, and it pained Kurt to see him so helpless and on display. Blaine hadn't moved a muscle since they'd been permitted to see him, adding more panic to Kurt's already flustered state. He could hardly remember what his cell phone did, much less remind himself to use it to keep Isabelle updated back in New York like she'd made him promise. Even amongst his and Blaine's shared friends in the room, he barely said a word to any of them. And they all watched him with apprehensive eyes, all unwilling to be the first to try to start a conversation that they knew would never last. They all left him to his miserable thoughts, except for Rachel who tried to engage him whenever she visited, but even she realised it was pointless after a few apathetic nods and blank stares from Kurt in response.
Another day snuck past him, a swirling vortex of whispered medical jargon and concerned pats on the shoulder, and Kurt was just about ready to scream at all of them.
"We're doing what we can." There's more you can do. There has to be something more.
"Kurt, maybe you should eat something." You're thinking about food at a time like this?
"Go home, take a nap. We'll watch him and let you know if anything changes." Fall into nightmares and possibly miss however short a time he might wake up for? No, thank you.
It continued like that for more than half of his fifth day there. Eventually, more and more people had trickled out of the room until only Kurt and Blaine were left. Kurt had thought to try something different today. And so he sat with a collection of letters he had intended to give to Blaine when they first became friends, full of both silly and serious topics, some with confessions that had been too heavy for his tongue to hold the weight of so he channeled them through ink instead.
"I haven't been able to stop thinking about our conversation the other day," Kurt rattled off in a wavering voice, eyes flitting back and forth between Blaine and the paper in his hand with such speed that it began to make the room spin. "I feel like I've been screaming out for someone to notice that everything's all wrong, and there you were. I don't think you even know what it meant to me, to sit across from someone with no judgment in their heart, willing to listen to a complete stranger. As cliché as it is to say, I think I fell in love with you that day. I remember the exact moment too. You told me to be brave, not because it was easier said than done, but because you didn't want me to have the same regrets you had for running away. We had just met and already you cared only for my own peace of mind. You didn't need to listen to me, but you did."
He paused, shuffling through the crinkled pages of loose leaf paper, and cast a few hopeful glances at Blaine, who was still merely organic decor for the room. Kurt scanned through the first few sentences of the next letter before settling on a line and started to read, his voice still shaky. "Is this real? I've had very little luck in my life when it comes to making friends, but with you it's just... easy. With you, I don't feel left out anymore. Whenever I'm completely over the moon about something, you stop and listen like it's the most important thing in your life. I notice that. I notice you too, even when you try to hide yourself away."
Kurt sifted through a few more pages, plucking out random lines and casting them into the air as if making some sort of verbal collage of secrets and affection.
"Could you ever go for someone like me?"
"I wonder what it'd be like to kiss you."
"I've never been this scared before in my life—I just want to tell you everything. Courage, you told me. Have courage. I feel like a hypocrite for only applying it to scattered moments of my life."
"How can you be so wonderful and so frustrating all at once?"
"I must be out of my mind. What other explanation is there? Is it all in my head?"
"Kissing you was everything I thought it would be."
"It's so hard being away from you like this."
"I don't want to say goodbye to you. I won't say goodbye to you."
"You transferred schools for me? I'm terrified this will end in resentment."
"I didn't think it was possible to feel this much love for another human being. Not exclusively in a romantic sense. Even if this ends someday, I hope we're still best friends. Right up until the very end."
He had to stop when he read the last passage, his voice suddenly too tight, his eyes too watery to even distinguish one word from another. Best friends. That's what they were. That's what he'd always hoped they'd be. Through love, through hatred—he hadn't imagined anything that could force them apart. They'd woven a part of themselves so deeply into the other that it seemed impossible. And he felt that connection still. Despite his anger, he still wanted to run to Blaine at the first signs of hardship and complete elation, wanted to share everything with him.
"You just—you have to wake up, okay?" Kurt brought his palms up to his eyes, pressing down until he saw spots. "Please, Blaine. I don't hate you, I've never hated you. Wake up so we can talk about what happened, I'll listen to everything you have to say."
He was just about ready to start bargaining with a force he didn't believe in when the door swung open and his father appeared with Cooper. Kurt didn't say a word to them as he stood up abruptly and all but raced out of the room to clean up his face. The back of his neck prickled as he felt their eyes bear into him, but he didn't dare turn around. The next ten minutes passed by in a blur as he splashed his face with cold water until all the warmth, rawness, and sadness had gone leaving only frozen apathy.
By the time the sixth day had rolled around, Burt had filled Cooper in on what had happened with Blaine. Kurt sat silently beside them, chewing on the insides of his cheeks, and couldn't help the feeling that his father wasn't telling them everything. Kurt noticed the distance in his father eyes as he parroted the same summarization for Cooper that he'd given Kurt the first night of the attack. It was that same expression that kept Kurt from asking more questions—he didn't want to know all of the brutal details if they could reduce his strong father to a smoldering pile of terrified ashes.
Like the previous day, Kurt had decided to try something different again today. Though he was sharing the room with Cooper and Burt today, it did nothing to hinder any of his boldness. Nobody was here to pass judgment anyways, he reminded himself as he scraped his chair closer to Blaine's bed and scooped his ex-boyfriend's hand into his own. An eery silence engulfed the room in the moments before Kurt decided to serenade Blaine, his soft warbling providing the perfect mask for his tumultuous mind. Cooper and Burt wouldn't understand the significance of the song and Kurt took comfort in that; even in a room full of friends and family, Kurt and Blaine could still cling to their secrets in plain sight.
"Blackbird singing in the dead of night, take these broken wings and learn to fly. All your life, you were only waiting for this moment to arise..."
Kurt hid his face away at the end of the last line, squeezing Blaine's hand tighter as another onslaught of tears fought too strongly against him and won. Every other presence that was and could have been in the room dissolved. For Kurt, there was only the two of them. Friend, lover, ex-boyfriend—none of the words mattered, he wasn't sure they would ever matter again. But as another sob clawed its way up his esophagus, as his lungs ached and overworked themselves, as he was beginning to cut the last remaining thread tethering his hope to ground level, the smallest of sounds invaded his ears and lead the cavalry straight to his heart where the words planted a familiar flag right beside the old tattered one he wouldn't have been able to ever forget about, even though—as of late—he'd been trying to.
"Oh there you are..."
Kurt's head snapped up, his neck cricking loudly, as his thumping—claimed, no matter who he was trying to kid that it wasn't—heart leapt up into his throat. He swallowed thickly, eyes trained on Blaine's lips for fear he had imagined the words. But he hadn't.
"I've been looking for you forever," Blaine continued in a just-barely-there whisper, cracking his eyes open with some effort. Once they were open though, they were immediately on Kurt who stared back with tears rushing down his face. Burt had run off to fetch a doctor and Cooper crowded around on the other side of the bed, but still Kurt and Blaine focused only on each other.
There would be time to sort out the messy details of their "relationship," Kurt thought. For now, he was content with sharing this moment of relief, this miracle—though he gave credit to no one in particular for it—under very simple terms with the boy laying before him. They had been lost and found their way to each other once, through all the possibilities and hardships, and they would continue to do it again and again. Whether it was as strangers with the same dependency for companionship, as friends who had connected through shared submergence into darkness, or as lovers who lit the candle together and lead each other into the light—Kurt knew they would figure it out. With time and with patience, they would figure it out.