Author's Note: So really, this is technically "Chapter 8: Part 1." I felt bad about having kept you guys waiting so long so I figured I could at least upload this much. Finally some Klaine heavy conversation time!
Kurt stood in front of the stove in the kitchen, almost amazed with the fact that they had finally made it to the kitchen at all. Getting Blaine back onto his feet had proven more difficult than getting him into the tub in the first place. They had stood up too quickly, Kurt scolded himself as he stirred thick tomato soup with a wooden spoon. Blaine had been overtaken by a dizzy spell and fell against Kurt, still very naked and still very embarrassed; the entire ordeal had elicited all of Kurt's skills as "smooth-talker" to reassure him that it was all quite alright and there was no need to feel any shame. They had been warned of bouts of vertigo and had now received their first taste of it. Behind Kurt, Blaine sat at the round, oak kitchen table with his arms folded across it, forehead pressed against the two thin sticks of bruised skin. He protested anything heavy, and so Kurt dug through the cabinets until he located the supply of Campbell's tomato soup—the only type that they appeared to have—which somehow seemed to elicit more mockery in regards to Blaine's extremely sensitive attitude. As Kurt stared longer into the pot, the more he thought about the splashes of the very same hue all over Blaine's face where it just did not belong. Not at all. Blaine Anderson had never been a victim of embarrassment, something Kurt deeply admired and envied, but the past month had been knocking him right back off of the pedestal Kurt still found himself setting him atop.
Blaine lifted his head slowly and tried to blink away the spots dancing before his eyes; his head swam dangerously, leaving him unbalanced despite the fact that he was sitting down. The promise of a sedentary life for the next few weeks—or maybe even longer—was proving itself to be more daunting with each passing second. He was accustomed to being on his feet: running around, jumping on furniture, jumping rope, being active. Sitting down, a slave to dizziness and faulty bones, simply made him feel old and downright useless. He fixed his gaze on a dark swirl of color on the tabletop and listened to Kurt scrape the wooden spoon along the bottom of a big, stainless steel pot. It was almost therapeutic, Blaine thought—almost. The shuffling of heavy footsteps drew his attention to the entryway, where Finn had walked in and taken one uneasy glance between the two of them before turning around and walking away again. It had been going on like this since they had all arrived; it was as though everyone could feel the tension in the room and was doing their best to steer clear of it and let them work it out at their own pace.
At the stove, Kurt scoffed and shook his head. "You'd think they could all be a little more subtle about it."
"It's weird for them too, I guess," Blaine contributed and let his head drop down onto his arms again.
"Well, yeah, but..." Kurt shook his head again and rolled his shoulders back. "This is almost done. How're you feeling? Dizzy, still?"
"A little," Blaine closed his eyes as a gentle hum filled both of his ears. "I'm okay."
Kurt bit his lip, anxiously, and twisted the dial on the stovetop to turn the heat off. "Sure you're still up for—"
"Yes," Blaine slowly lifted his head again and left his eyes closed for a few seconds longer before opening them. "Yes, I'm sure."
"Okay," Kurt trailed off in defeat. Even with only half of his wits about, Blaine remained stubborn and determined; Kurt's heart gave a sudden jolt. Muscle memory, he told himself, but he knew it was more than just remembering Blaine's work ethic; he adored Blaine's charisma, through and through.
He carried the pot over to the table, where he had already set out two porcelain bowls in the middle of it. Carefully, he poured equal amounts of tomato soup into them and glanced over at Blaine whenever he thought he could get away with it—Blaine was oblivious to each and every stolen, worrisome look. If he was being completely honest with himself, Kurt wasn't sure he could actually force himself to eat either; the pair of them seemed to be humouring the other for the sake of normalcy, leaving them at a standstill of nausea and stubborn pride. Blaine curled clumsy fingers around the silver spoon protruding from the blob of red and slowly raised it—half-full—to his mouth; his lower lip twitched in accordance with his shaky wrist and Kurt instinctively reached a hand out to help Blaine steady his own. He was met with an expression that could not quite be described as callous, but it definitely was nowhere near friendly either.
"I know, I know," Kurt withdrew his hand with hesitation in his movement and voice. "You can do it on your own."
Blaine pursed his lips and sipped the small amount of soup off before dropping the spoon back into the bowl, sending little droplets of tomato all over the table. He blinked at the innocent, inanimate mush—for food and objects never bore malicious intent—and tried to whisk away the images of his own blood which, much like the splash pattern of soup, was probably still decorating the pavement just outside of Burt's tire shop. In another flash he was fourteen again; the scene different, yet exactly the same—his blood lay spackled across the blacktop parking lot at his middle school; alongside it was the body of another lost soul, a kindred spirit in their shared abuse. Only one of them had made it out alive. Blaine wondered now if he was supposed to feel lucky about escaping with his life again. He must have held his breath at some point during the recollection because, suddenly, the burning sensation in his lungs became almost unbearable and he drew in one long, rattling intake of air. Kurt sat across from him, palms flat on the table, eyes wide, and moved his mouth in question, though no actual sound came out.
"I'm—I was just," Blaine blinked at the little red droplets and dragged his hand over them, wiping them off the tabletop. "It's silly," his voice went hoarse, abandoning him at the first hint of hardship.
"I doubt it was silly if it elicited a reaction like that out of you," Kurt tried to subtly encourage him to continue.
"I was just reminded of the... of when..." Blaine blinked back tears that seemed to have snuck up on him within the past three seconds. Kurt reached his hand across the table and covered Blaine's with it.
"You remember what they did to you?"
"Flashes," Blaine swallowed hard. "Flashes of it. Of this one, of the last one, of," he pulled his hand away from under Kurt's and pressed it to his face in a feeble attempt to block out any more memories.
"It'll be okay, Blaine," Kurt watched helplessly.
"I'm not very hungry, Kurt," Blaine lowered his hand and sniffled quietly.
"Me either," Kurt replied. "Let's just go lay down?"
Blaine nodded and scraped his chair back, rushing as much as he possibly could in his fragile state, to get up and go. Kurt nearly knocked his own chair backwards as he stood up to help Blaine. They left their bowls on the table as Kurt slid delicate arms around Blaine's torso and then set off towards the guest room that Cooper and Blaine would be staying in. Though it was something subtle, Blaine took note of the setting: it was neutral territory, a room they had never really spent any time in alone; Kurt's bedroom held too much history for them. Each little object would be a distraction from the topics they needed to focus on, and there were definitely more than a few that required their immediate attention. Cooper was sitting on the bed when they walked in; he took one quick glance at the pair of them with the same uncertain expression that Finn had before excusing himself and leaving them to silence. They didn't speak until they were both laying down comfortably, the tiniest amount of space between them as Blaine took a spare pillow between his hands to distract himself with if need be. Neither of them knew where they needed to begin, only that one of them simply needed to start and the rest would surely follow. Out of the corner of Blaine's eye he could see Kurt taking his bottom lip between his teeth and chewing on it, something he rarely ever did unless he was either nervous or in thought—in this case, he appeared to be both.
"I know that you have questions," Blaine broke the silence.
"Before we... get into all of that, do you remember anything from when you were in the—in your coma? Voices? Anyone's at all?" Kurt chewed on his lip again and managed to resist the urge to shove his fingernails into his mouth instead.
"I don't know which of it was real and which parts I dreamt up," he admitted.
"Well, what do you remember?" Kurt sat up apprehensively.
"Singing. I heard," Blaine swallowed and hesitated, "I think I heard you singing Blackbird, but I—"
"I was," Kurt's heart thudded violently. "I did. Right before you woke up. What else can you remember?"
"You were reading something, I think. Letters...? There was—there was one thing in particular that I remember, that I don't know if it's... if I imagined it," he hesitated again, almost afraid to discover the truth. "You said, 'Even if this ends someday, I hope we're still best friends.' Did you say—was that real?"
Kurt's mouth hung open slightly as Blaine repeated the statement word for word; so far, he seemed to have retained quite a bit. "That was real, yes—"
"Did you mean it?" Blaine practically stampeded his way through Kurt's response.
"Of course," Kurt's eyes softened in light of the desperation in Blaine's voice. "There was something else, I don't know if you remember it or not. But I made a promise to listen to whatever you had to say, as long as you—if you made it through, if you woke up."
"So you're acting in response to some supposed miracle?"
"No," Kurt frowned slightly, unsure if he even believed his own answer. "I do want to know. I think I do?" He added with a deeper frown and followed up with a quiet sigh. "I know that I should listen because I know you must have had your reasons for... doing what you did."
"Despite those reasons, I still don't really have any excuse for it..."
"To be honest," Kurt continued, having half-heard Blaine's mumbled response, "I was sort of afraid to hear why. I still am. Because I know that it was at least partially my fault. And I didn't want to admit that."
"You didn't deserve it—"
"No, I didn't," Kurt added with just the slightest touch of bitterness.
"You deserve more than me—"
"Now that," he interrupted again, "I don't agree with."
Blaine looked at him incredulously with watery eyes—eyes that searched and searched and searched Kurt's with a particularly different kind of desperation—and cleared his throat nervously. "It wasn't fair of me to blame you that day in the park. I'm the one that told you to go and live your life. I was just—Christ, I was just so alone, Kurt. I was so alone and so... stupid. So fucking stupid."
"I ignored your call," Kurt blurted out.
"That night that you and Sam won the election? I was at Isabelle's office and I saw you calling, but I..." he tilted his head down but watched Blaine out of the corner of his eye. "Ignored it."
"Oh," Blaine rubbed the back of his neck slowly and stared into swirling patterns of intricate stitching on the comforter until he thought another bout of dizziness would take hold again. But Kurt began speaking again, filling in the empty spaces of wonder and doubt, and he lifted his head to face the boy who still held his fragile heart in the palm of his hand.
"I didn't do it to hurt you. I didn't love you any less—"
"You just... didn't know," Blaine interrupted with quiet intensity. Maybe it was the choice of words or the way that he said them, but suddenly a swift, quiet little thought dawned on Kurt, leaving his stomach in knots and his heart begging to be freed from the rusty, tight vice it was being held captive in.
"Was... something else going on, Blaine?"
"It's an excuse. All of it just feels like excuse after excuse, and I don't want you to think that I—"
"Tell me," Kurt pressed on, passing gentle fingers over the taut skin of Blaine's clenched fist. "We're being honest with each other now, right? Tell me."
Blaine's lower lip receded between his teeth and he clenched his fist tighter; Kurt could feel the veins and grow rigid beneath his fingertips. "Does is have to do with your parents?" He would have to ease Blaine into telling him, obviously.
After a fleeting moment of consideration Blaine finally shook his head.
"Cooper told me what they were like after the first time you were attacked."
In a reserved, quiet voice—one that Kurt could never have imagined, in a million years or more, would belong to Blaine—he answered, "It was almost worse than the actual attack, you know?"
And though Kurt didn't know, he nodded anyways. Before him was a glimpse at the frightened, lonely boy of years passed and Kurt couldn't—wouldn't dare—take his eyes off of him.
"There's something I never told you about all of that, Kurt," he added, voice still growing no higher than the defeated whisper he had recently adapted.
"What is it?"
"I..." Blaine fumbled with the crisp, clean edge of the bed sheet that Kurt had pulled over both of them. "When I first started at Dalton, I didn't exactly... fit in."
"I thought that there's a zero tolerance policy for bullying there," Kurt furrowed his brows, half-intrigued and half-afraid.
"There's a reason for that," Blaine twisted the corner of the sheet around his index finger until the skin turned purple. "I tried to kill myself."
The words were borrowed from someone else, they had to be, because there was no way—absolutely, positively no way—that Blaine Devon Anderson would ever consider taking his own life. The same boy who had told him to have courage and face his demons; the boy who laughed the loudest amongst a group of classmates, friends and even strangers; the boy who tried to befriend everyone and stand up for people he barely knew. Kurt had learned you needed to squint with both eyes to really see the bravery between the lines, but he never believed that all of Blaine's confidence had been a front, that the boy before him with wide honey-hazel eyes was just as scared and alone now as he used to be after the night of that awful dance. Kurt would have to choose his words carefully and try to keep himself in check, separate lover from friend and just simply exist for Blaine's sake right now.
"What," he tried to clear away the desert from his throat and failed miserably, proceeding in spite of tumbleweeds and cacti multiplying and spreading viciously, "What happened?"
"I just didn't want to... pretend anymore, you know?"
"Everywhere I went, everywhere I would go it all felt the same; I didn't think anything was going to change, why would it?" Blaine passed trembling fingers beneath his eyes to flick away stray tears. "I wanted it to stop, I wanted to feel like if there was one thing that I could control... it would be that. So I," he breathed in deeply, "I came home one day and I took a bunch of pills."
Kurt watched silently, unable to summon any more words; the scene played out in his head, flickering dimly on a damaged film reel that he never even knew existed within him—an ugly piece of equipment to accompany the unbelievable vision. His heart clenched at the image of Blaine laying in the bathroom—no, most likely, his bedroom—an empty orange bottle just out of reach of his trembling fingers, consciousness callously whisking itself away without bothering to wave goodbye. It was too much to take; Kurt wanted nothing more than to wrap his arms around Blaine and kiss away every trace of pain and sorrow... but they were meant to be taking things slow for now, rediscovering their friendship and learning how to communicate with each other again. Throwing in any sort of physical comfort would simply confuse both of them. But as Blaine breathed in another shallow breath, as he raised two trembling fingers to his eyes to rub away the tears before they could even fall, Kurt could not be bothered to care about the boundaries his subconscious kept reminding him of. He snaked his arms around a familiar slender waist and felt his heart lurch right back into its proper place again.
"If Cooper hadn't still been home visiting..." Blaine tried to continue, but seemed to have overwhelmed himself. He gasped quietly, the muscles in his stomach and back clenching up as Kurt's arms brushed against them, and pressed his palms against his eyes.
"Why didn't you ever tell me?" Kurt whispered before he could stop himself.
Blaine sniffled—the sound muffled and bearing traces of his embarrassment—and lowered his hands, staring at the stitching in the comforter again. "I never told anyone. The only one who does know is Cooper. And, well, I mean... it's on my medical record too..."
"Your parents don't know?" Something unfamiliar and sinister clawed at the lining of Kurt's stomach as he awaited the response to a question of which he already knew the answer.
"No," Blaine scoffed and sniffled again. "Of course not."
And for some inexplicable reason... Kurt felt guilty. Maybe it was the venom in Blaine's voice, bitter and self-pitying; or perhaps it was because he could see the frightened little boy still hiding behind a front that could just barely be described as "brave." His misplaced guilt must have been evident on his face, because Blaine immediately began plowing through apologies and explanations.
"Don't—no, I—Kurt, I didn't tell you that to make you feel bad or guilty. It isn't your fault—you had no idea what was going on. And I'm not trying to use it as an excuse for what I did—"
"You should have told me," Kurt cut through all of it with his own touch of bitterness—much more than he intended, actually—and his eyes softened as he realized his mistake. "I'm sorry. I just—I really wish you had told me all of this."
"I didn't want you to think any less of me, I guess," Blaine mumbled and bit his lip, trying to keep back the remainder of his thought.
"I wouldn't have—Blaine, you know I wouldn't have," Kurt touched his hand to Blaine's bicep, eyebrows furrowed.
"I didn't want you to know how weak I get sometimes," Blaine blurted out.
"Oh, Blaine," Kurt breathed out with seemingly incurable sorrow.
"What do you want to know about that night?" Blaine cleared his throat, suddenly redirecting the subject, and straightened up against the pillows.
The nausea hit Kurt as quickly as the words had collided with him; it was an onslaught of unease, indecisiveness and anxiety. He gulped down sand, his throat suddenly dry, and tried to quell thousands of voices sounding off in his head, all of them screaming out different questions and trying to be heard over each other. He was terrified to know the truth—all of the little details he had either been shoving away or allowing himself to guess at—because he wasn't sure if he would be able to forgive Blaine once he actually learned the full nature of his tryst.
"Blaine, I don't know if I can do this right now," he admitted, the ever present rouge shade of his cheeks fading away to nothing. "I don't know if I want to know. I know I said I would, but maybe it isn't right to do this just yet."
"It's going to come back and hit you harder the more that you ignore it..." Blaine's desperation was strongly evident. "Please, Kurt. Please, I need you to know. I need you to know that he meant nothing to me—"
"He obviously had to mean something to you. You wouldn't just fuck someone you don't care about at all," Kurt snapped, unable to keep himself at bay.
"You wouldn't," Blaine said quietly. "I thought I was losing you, Kurt. I wanted to feel... something. Anything. I acted on impulse, I wasn't thinking—I could spend the rest of the night or the rest of my life listing off reasons, but they all feel like cheap shots and excuses. It was a mistake; it was the biggest mistake I've ever made—will ever make—and I'm so, so sorry that I hurt you like this."
Kurt could pick out the remorse; he could tell how genuine the apology was, but his mind was elsewhere. And though his brain had been screaming, "Compose yourself!" while reminding him to respond with more tact than he was about to, he couldn't help the question from hurrying out in a chaotic whirlwind. "Did he fuck you?"
"He—I..." Blaine stuttered quietly, clearly embarrassed.
"He did, didn't he?" Kurt's heart sank as he asked. "You wouldn't even let me top for the longest time—you trust him more than me?"
"It had nothing to do with trust!" He said, quickly. "I—I didn't want to look at him; I could pretend it was—"
"Don't," Kurt interrupted, closing his eyes to keep the anger from burbling up right out of them. "Don't say it."
"I could pretend it was you that way..." Blaine finished on the wings of a whisper.
"And you think that makes it any better? You think it makes me feel any better?"
"No..." Kurt opened his eyes to frown lines and the pure essence of self-loathe.
"Sex isn't just some... thing for me, Blaine. I didn't think that it was for you." The disappointment snuck into every single word, weighing them down heavily.
"It isn't. Kurt, it isn't," Blaine whimpered. He was beyond frustrated and upset, absolutely certain that he was never going to be able to get Kurt to understand that—
"You weren't yourself," Kurt said. "Is that what you were going to say? Because that's—"
"Bullshit? Inexcusable?" Tears began flooding his eyes again. "Kurt, I know. I know. I have spent every second since it happened telling myself as much."
"I... I want to forgive you, I really do," Kurt swallowed hard.
"Maybe one day you will," Blaine didn't bother wiping his eyes. Their next thoughts overlapped each other, bearing the same exact hints of regret and pain. "But I don't expect you to."
"I just can't right now," Kurt said quietly over Blaine's defeat. Blaine simply nodded, accepting a truth he had been hammering into his own head since the very moment he had ever initiated contact with Eli.
"So where do we go from here?" He finally asked.
"Can we go back to talking about your parents for a minute?" Kurt knew what Blaine really meant with the question, but he had no answer for him right now. And he was a little more than eager to ease Blaine into opening up more about the damage relationship he had with his family. Tears clung to Blaine's eyelashes, dangling like melting icicles, as he searched Kurt's face for what seemed like an eternity before clearing his throat quietly and nodding again. Kurt swallowed, hard, and braced himself for another topic that he was certain would be tugging on his heartstrings.
Conversation to continue in the next chapter. I apologize again about how long I've kept everyone waiting and I hope you stick with me! Please leave a review if you liked what you've read or if there is anything you would like to see in the next chapter. Thanks!