Chapter 35: A Kind of Normalcy

Life went on in much the same way as it had before Thanksgiving, with the exception that Kurt began to spend more nights at Blaine's place, since they could get more privacy there. Blaine's career was developing slowly, with a string of meetings at record labels within the first weeks after their arrival back in New York City.

The day of the first meeting was also the first and so far the last time Blaine transitioned since the day of their car crash in Ohio. Liam's visit was short, though full of attempts at crossing a line that Kurt certainly did not want to cross with the alter. Nonetheless, Kurt was happy to be there with him to show him support, but also to discover that Blaine could also count on Lindsey. The producer showed an incredible amount of patience and seemed hardly bothered by the transition. She also turned out to be perfectly capable of calling Liam out on his inappropriateness. Kurt couldn't help but chuckle internally as he thought there could be no one more suitable to be Santana's girlfriend in the whole wide world than her.

Therapy sessions became a much happier place for Blaine. The irritable, miserable patient from a few months before, gradually losing hope for things getting better, was gone, replaced by someone looking ahead into his bright future with a rarely ceasing smile.

'It seems the visit in Ohio served you well,' Dr. Peterson told him on his first session after Thanksgiving. 'How did it feel to be back there?'

'Strange,' Blaine said, squinting as he searched his mind. 'I mean, home is still home, only emptier. It's not the same without Grandma.'

Dr. Peterson made a note in the file in her lap and looked up at him from over her glasses.

'So did it feel lonely? Did you change your mind about keeping the house?'

'No and no.' Blaine propped his chin on his hand and fixed his eyes on the window. 'Actually, the holiday felt like I imagine family holidays should feel like. Maybe without the accident and the hospital, and stuff. But the Thanksgiving itself- The holidays I used to have with Grandma were kinda lonely. And miserable. It was when I got reminded most painfully that Mom and Cooper were gone. And this year... I felt like I actually belonged in a family. Like I could have a family. And not just in-laws that would like me and embrace me the way I am. I was thinking- I haven't even talked to Kurt about it, I don't know if he'd be on board with this- But I was thinking that maybe we could start our own family. At some point.'

The therapist couldn't resist a little smile.

'That's a change. Not half a year ago you were saying something completely different.'

'Half a year is a lot of time. I didn't know Kurt, I was on meds, I felt like shit.' He beamed. 'Things change fast, I guess.'

'I'm glad to see you so happy. I only wish I was the one responsible for the improvement,' Dr. Peterson said, but from her joyful expression Blaine could tell she didn't really care who made him feel so much better. 'But you haven't told me anything about your meeting with your father.'

Blaine winced slightly and folded his hands in his lap. That morning wasn't something he liked to recall and he'd been trying to push it as far back in his mind as he could. But there was no hiding something like that from his therapist.

'It was- unsurprisingly unpleasant,' he said with a shrug. 'I had this tiny glimmer of hope somewhere inside my mind that he'd realise what he's done, that so much of what happened was his fault. That he'd say he's sorry. But in a way, I don't even care that he didn't do any of that. Now he's going to die after a lifetime of lying to himself. And I- I'm glad that at least, through all the crappy times, I searched for the truth, knew it, and found something real.'

'How did it feel, meeting your father?' The question sounded quiet and timid in the room; Blaine's face had turned solemn, musing.

'Like it always used to feel. At first. But then, when I actually got there, I felt so much stronger because, in a way, it was like finally justice caught up with him. Maybe it's cruel or whatever on my part to think that he deserves it, but I do. He deserves every moment of pain, weakness and humiliation that his disease has cost him. It's kinda cathartic to me.'

Dr. Peterson nodded her head as she jotted down some more. She'd been seriously concerned about Blaine's visit at the hospital; she'd heard too many stories of encounters between the Andersons, and not one of them had given her reason to be optimistic. She'd expected anything to happen, from transitions through self-harm to a mental breakdown. Anything was possible, but somehow her worries turned out to be unwarranted. Whatever gave Blaine the strength to pull through, whether it was the satisfaction from getting some sort of justice, or whether it was Kurt's unwavering love, there he was, standing strong like never before.

'Do you think it makes me a bad person?,' Blaine asked, his voice uncertain.

'I think it makes you human.' Dr. Peterson paused for a moment. 'Anyway, I think you should stay off the medication. At least as long as things are looking as good as they are now. You seem happy without them.'

'I am.' The bright smile lit up his face once again.

Three weeks after Thanksgiving Blaine had almost successfully weeded the thoughts of his father out of his head. Every once in a while it would cross his mind whether the hospital was going to call him at all when he dies. He wouldn't be surprised if they failed to notify him, and it wouldn't make much of a difference anyway, since he didn't plan on attending the funeral anyway. He just wanted to know.

It was a lazy Saturday afternoon that Kurt and Blaine were spending snuggled on the living room couch. Kurt was flipping the pages of the latest issue of Vogue, while Blaine was reading some sci-fi novel he'd bought forever ago and consistently failed to get around to finishing it.

The phone tore through the quiet of the apartment with unusual harshness. Blaine froze, the paperback almost falling out of his hands. He didn't have to look at the screen, he was sure he knew who was calling already, as if he could feel some connection to another being breaking.

'Kurt,' he choked out. 'Could you answer my phone, please?'

A quick glance at Blaine's face sufficed for an explanation, the Ohio area code he caught a glimpse of before picking up only served as a confirmation.

'Blaine Anderson's phone, Kurt Hummel speaking,' he said, glancing at Blaine, taking his hand and stroking it comfortingly.

'This is Debbie Thompson, we met at the hospital while you and Mr Anderson were in Ohio?,' the nurse's voice said on the other end of the line.

'Is this about Blaine's father?,' Kurt asked to make her get to the point, even though the answer was obvious.

'Yes. Could I talk to Mr Anderson?'

Kurt could see out of the corner of his eye that Blaine heard every word of what she'd been saying, and now he was shaking his head no.

'I'm not sure he's up for talking to you right now,' Kurt said slowly. 'He's right here with me and you can count on me telling him everything you tell me.'

'Alright.' He could hear her inhaling deeply before continuing. 'I- I'm very sorry to inform Mr Anderson that his father passed away late this morning. I wasn't sure if I should call.'

'I understand. Thank you for calling, Blaine wanted to know if- when- when it happens.'

He hurried through some more pleasantries, and ended the call. His attention was now entirely focused on Blaine.

'How are you feeling?,' he asked softly.

Blaine frowned; the inability to move or think coherently passed as soon as it had appeared.

'Fine.' There was surprise in his tone. 'I thought I'd be- glad, sad, I don't even know what I thought I'd feel. But it's like I don't feel anything about this. Just another unlucky bastard kicked the bucket.'

'We'll be in Ohio for Christmas,' Kurt said timidly. 'Are you sure you don't want to go to the funeral?'

Blaine locked his eyes on his boyfriend's and smiled gently.

'No. Back in November you said I needed closure. I got my closure. I thought his death would make it more finite, but I don't think it did.'

'So, you're okay?,' Kurt asked.

'I guess I'm better than okay,' Blaine said, the revelation making him dizzy for a split second.

They exchanged a smile, before returning to their interrupted reading and the quiet of the early winter afternoon.

A/N: So this is it. The end of Puzzle Pieces. It feels strange, especially since there's no epilogue and no the end to finish it off. Feels more open-ended than my previous fics. But I like it that way, 'cause it's supposed to be a beginning of sorts as well as an ending.

And now the most important part of this note:

A million thank yous to all of you who have read, reviewed, followed and/or favourited this story. My readers (as strange as that still sounds to me) have always been the reason why I've kept on writing. I used to think very low of my literary endeavours and now, thanks to you, I'm starting to believe in myself a little bit more. I'm eternally grateful to all of you for that.