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.
Although it's not explicitly mentioned, this takes place during Blaine's first year at NYADA, before the end of the first semester (fall 2013). Enjoy!
Blaine's head felt heavy. He didn't know the how or why of it, except that nothing sounded more appealing than never moving again. His snores reverberated in his chest, loud and throaty, but the ringing in his ears largely drowned them out, creating an almost pleasant detachment from reality. He could almost fool himself that the achiness in his limbs belonged to someone else, some random stranger currently milling about the streets. He wasn't so fortunate, keenly aware of every small pang in his limbs making it nearly impossible to move them.
As he lied there willing the bed to swallow him whole, he felt the mattress dip a little, accommodating a secondary weight. Scrunching his brow in idle confusion, he snuffled as he shifted, trying to get more comfortable without actually moving. A cool hand on his cheek startled him; his eyes opened to slits as he peered blearily up at the intruder.
"Hey," Kurt said, his voice soft and a little upset, brushing his thumb over Blaine's cheek lightly.
"K-Kurt." Blaine had to clear his throat to get anything intelligible out, wincing at the rawness of it as he tried to push himself upright, elbows quivering. "Kurt, what - what are you - "
"Shh," Kurt urged, gently nudging him back down. "I'm here." He frowned pensively as he pressed the back of his hand to Blaine's forehead, adding, "You've got a fever."
"I feel so - cold," Blaine assured thickly, tipping his head to rest against the curve of Kurt's palm. "It's okay."
"It's not." The quiet obstinacy in Kurt's voice made Blaine look at him for the first time, truly look at him, his vision a little fuzzy around the edges as sleep tried to tug him back down. "I'm going to go grab you a Nyquil, okay? Stay here."
Blaine tried to grab his arm as he moved, limp fingers sliding off Kurt's sleeve easily. He blinked, and between one heartbeat and the next Kurt was there again, crouching down beside him and propping him up so he could swallow the pill and water. He didn't question it, didn't offer any protests of, I have class or It's day time. If Kurt thought it would work, then Blaine was willing to trust him on it: simple as that.
Bending a little so he was tucked up against Kurt's chest, listening to the solid, steady beat of his heart and the way his breath made his entire torso expand and contract rhythmically, he curled his fingers in Kurt's shirt, willing himself to stay conscious and enjoy the moment. "I'm sorry," he added at last, his voice still thick but now a little slurry as well, refusing to cooperate with his sleepy senses.
"Why are you sorry?" Kurt asked, rubbing his back slowly. "You forgot to rinse the gel out, by the way," he added almost gently as he let his fingers glide briefly over the back of Blaine's neck, sending shivers down his spine.
"I forgot to text you. About our date."
Kurt hummed, and Blaine braced himself for the rebuke he knew that was coming. It had been strange for a long time, trying to find the perfect balance between what was enough and what was too much, tentatively reaching out to each other first as friends and then boyfriends again. There had been tense silences in lieu of fights, refusing to reignite what had already been lost. Blaine knew that Kurt had been very reasonable about it all. He'd grieved and ranted and moved on: he'd let Blaine cheating on him go.
Blaine still didn't know exactly how it had happened. His fuzzy thoughts refused to build on any coherency. One moment he was standing anxiously in the hallway with Tina, dressed to the nines in preparation for Will and Emma's wedding - the next he was kissing Kurt, kissing him with the slow, deep, desperate passion that he'd been wanting to for what felt like forever - and then they were back at the wedding and it was a flurry of music and laughter and cheers at the reception, bouquets tossed and champagne opened and dancing, so much dancing, his head tucked on Kurt's shoulder as they breathed together, keenly aware of everything and nothing but them - but no, that wasn't it, because Kurt had pulled away and smiled sultrily at him and then they were on stage and Blaine didn't remember picking up the mic but he had one and they were singing and it was wonderful and he felt Kurt's presence send electricity down his spine -
And then it was quiet, all the fanfare, all the celebration below and beyond them, out of their reach. Blaine remembered a hotel room, white noise occupying the spaces where they said nothing, did nothing but looked at each other. He didn't remember how it happened, other than a vague, fleeting thought that he was glad Tina and Mike had found each other in the crowd because the last thing he wanted was a text message asking where he was when he was finally with Kurt.
Blaine blinked awake, mouth fuzzy and head thick as he sluggishly looked around, propping himself up into a seated position so he could do so. The loft was empty, he saw at once, looking at the four corners for any sign of life. Rachel spent more of her time at Brody's place than their own, preferring his company to their tumultous borderline dysfunctional trio of misfits. Having Santana around was both a blessing and a curse: it meant that they didn't have to worry about it every being completely quiet when she was around, regardless of how edgy they were. She had a way of speaking bluntly and effectively, and even if it came across as tough love at first, there was a certain refreshing quality to her honesty that Blaine liked. It kept them grounded, at least, in the practicalities of living together: they couldn't simply ignore each other indefinitely, and so the sooner they talked to each other, the quicker things got resolved.
And they learned to talk to each other. They learned to accept busy schedules and busier lives. They learned to deal with coming back to an empty loft multiple nights in a row without feeling abandoned. They learned to take time out of the pandemonium to do things together: get a coffee, take a walk, visit a park and just people-watch. It kept them sane in spite of all the craziness, the exclusivity of it, the This is my moment and yours, and no one else's.
Blaine could feel Kurt trusting him more, gradually. After the first desperate reunion at Will and Emma's wedding, they had been more cautious. Careful not to offend, but equally careful not to shut the other out. Gentle, affectionate touches were important, hugs and kisses that lead to nothing more. It was slow-going and at times tedious, but Blaine liked the way Kurt was slowly starting to smile at him more without that same uncertain pause as before. He liked that Kurt would take his hand on their outgoings and hold it, intertwining their fingers like he used to. He liked that Kurt would rest his cheek on his shoulder and cuddle close whenever they had movie night with Santana.
They weren't perfect, and they never would be, but they were mending.
Coughing into his sleeve, Blaine reached up to rub the back of his neck, wincing when his fingers came in contact with congealed hair gel. Forcing himself out of bed with slow, painstaking movements, he trudged over to their bathroom, snagging a pair of sweats, boxers, and a tee on his way. He sighed at the first hot gush of water, guiltily grateful that Rachel had largely moved out: Kurt hadn't been lying when he warned him that she stole all the hot water.
Letting the steam clear up his chest a little, he worked the gel out of his hair carefully, only halfheartedly shampooing and rinsing it out when he was done. Turning the water off and climbing out of the stall, he quickly dressed, shivering a little in the cool air. He tucked the towel around his shoulders to absorb some of the wetness from his hair when he was done, padding out of the bathroom and eyeing his own bed for a moment before bee-lining for the couch.
Of course, as soon as he saw his laptop lying abandoned on one of the cushions, he couldn't help but pull it onto his lap and open the tabs. He quickly responded to the dozen or so emails he'd been sent, leafing through the contents of a couple articles he had yet to analyze and an eBook that needed to be read and annotated. With a resigned sigh, he pulled the text open and began to read, tucking his feet underneath a blanket someone had left on the couch.
A soft groan of protest escaped him when he felt someone pull the laptop away, listening to Kurt's quick, quiet typing for several long moments. A moment later he heard a bag being zipped - doubtless his laptop case - and the blanket bunched around his feet being tugged away and properly draped over him.
Blinking owlishly at Kurt, he asked, "Why are you doing this?"
"Because you're sick," Kurt said primly, tucking another pillow behind his back. "That, and Santana agreed to bring dinner so she didn't have to do it."
Blaine nodded a little, his eyelids sliding shut as he added, "I'm sorry for missing our date."
He felt Kurt pause as he fluffed up the pillows he'd already smushed underneath himself, sliding them back into place when he was done. "It's okay," he said at last, patting Blaine's shoulder before moving off into what sounded like the kitchen area. "Do you want anything to eat? I'm pretty sure we have some leftover oyster crackers around here."
"It's fine," he assured, reaching up to rub his closed eyes. "Could you just grab me a cold compress? This headache is killing me."
Kurt obliged, handing it to him and letting him adjust it over his forehead when he laid back down, sighing gustily. "Thank you."
"Any time," Kurt assured, patting his leg once as he walked off.
Blaine didn't know where he went or why, but the next thing he knew there was another blanket being draped over his legs, warmer and heavier than the first. "Thanks," he mumbled, barely aware of Santana squeezing his socked foot affectionately before disappearing.
There were two voices speaking the next time he was aware of anything beyond his own cocoon of misery, one drawling, the other tense.
"Calm your tits, Hummel, it's just a chest cold - "
"He's missed three days," Kurt argued, his voice edgy. Blaine could almost picture him pacing the room anxiously, eager to find something to grab on to. He had all but had to talk Kurt out of a panic attack when Kurt had fretted over his acceptance into one of NYADA's specialist programs, designed to help aspiring performers better their careers. (He had, of course, gotten in, and almost gone gray in the process: Blaine had had to almost force feed him at regular intervals and, during his meltdown, calm him down after hours of negotiation.) This was different, though, because he couldn't simply get up and wrap his arms around Kurt's waist and hold him until he quieted.
No, this was worse, aware of Kurt's concern but unable to abate it. Santana didn't seem to be helping, either, if Kurt's raised voice was any indication. Pushing himself upright, Blaine told him, "Stop," in as level a voice as he could manage. "Kurt, stop."
Kurt froze, looking momentarily like a deer in headlights before he visibly forced himself to relax, breathing out slowly. "Okay," he said, noticeably quieter as he looked between Blaine and Santana.
Curling back up on the couch, intending to fall back asleep, Blaine startled a little when he felt a pair of arms curl up around him, tucking underneath his shoulders and the backs of his knees before picking him up. "What're you - "
"Hush." There was no room for argument in Kurt's tone; Blaine didn't brook any. He simply let Kurt set him down on his own bed, tucking the sheets over him a moment later and grabbing the extra blankets from the couch when Blaine shivered, coughing into his sleeve.
"Kurt," he tried again, wanting to tell him that he was okay, it was okay, it was just a chest cold, but Kurt was having none of it. He always got a little edgier around sick people, Blaine knew: he'd all but worn a face mask when Santana picked up a brief stomach virus, grasping at any excuse not to be around the loft. It had been up to Blaine to knock on the bathroom door occasionally and gently ask if there was anything he could do. By the time she threw a fresh bar of soap at his head, he'd stopped asking, only wordlessly re-heating leftovers from their previous meal when she finally emerged, ragged and unsmiling. Kurt had gratefully started inhabiting their loft once more, sheepishly admitting to Blaine a week later that he had, in fact, slept at Isabelle Wright's office to avoid it.
Letting Kurt fuss over him was different. Blaine knew about his past - how his mother had died after a long fight with an illness and how his father had struggled with health issues, too - and so his sudden eagerness to be involved startled him. Then again, Kurt had sat with him briefly that first day, even bringing him a Nyquil and letting him cuddle up to him.
It wasn't that Kurt feared getting sick, he realized after silence had settled over their loft once more aside from his own heavy breaths and Santana's quipped remarks.
Kurt feared losing people.
Even people like Santana, who had certainly sounded like she was dying at the time, only to appear fresh and robust two days later.
Wanting to tell him that there was nothing to fear, that he wasn't going to die from a chest cold, Blaine coughed harshly into his sleeve, drifting off before he could finish rehearsing his speech in his head.
Kurt's whisper pulled him back to the present. Blaine cracked open an eye, staring up at him, coughing into his sleeve harshly a moment later. He groaned softly when he was done, attempting to roll onto his side and curl up into a ball a moment later.
"No, no, don't do that," Kurt said, anchoring a hand on his waist to keep him in place. Blaine coughed into his sleeve again, shaking his head wearily. "I bought you some vapor rub," he added once Blaine had calmed down enough to listen, brow furrowed in confusion.
"Why'd you - "
"It'll help clear up your chest," Kurt explained. Blaine nodded a little, reaching out for the lotion reflexively. For one heartbeat, he was certain Kurt was going to give it to him, too, before he blurted out, "I could do it."
Blaine let his arm fall back over his own stomach, blinking sleepily up at Kurt. "I can do it," he assured quietly, offering an out. He didn't want Kurt to feel pressured into it. The last thing he wanted was for Kurt to feel pressured by him.
Kurt bit his lip, but he shook his head, already uncapping it. "Would you let me?" he asked. "I want to. I - I want to help you."
Blaine said nothing for a long time, thinking back to the wedding when Tina had flung the knowledge that she'd been there to take care of him when Kurt hadn't, using the vapor rub as an example. Blaine had been hurt, knowing that she was so upset about something that he hadn't even been aware she'd done, but he'd also felt disappointed, too. Just when he had thought everything was finally settling down between them, Tina had tried to reignite their nonexistent romance full force.
A wracking cough brought him back to the present, almost wheezing for air in the aftermath as the phlegm weighted him down. Kurt wasn't Tina, he reminded himself sternly as he offered a single barely-there nod. Kurt was his boyfriend, his boyfriend who had certainly seen him more vulnerable than this, who had trusted him in return. Kurt loved him.
And he loved Kurt.
Still, there was something intensely vulnerable about it all, the gentle slide of fabric as Kurt guided him out of his shirt, unbuttoning it easily. The first warm touch of his fingers against his torso made Blaine tense a little, and he felt Kurt tense in return, but then he was smoothing the vapor rub along his chest and it was okay, their warm breaths stuttery and, in Blaine's case, ragged, but still somehow in tandem. Blaine tried to watch him, tried to look at his face and gauge whether it was really okay by Kurt's standards or not, but his eyes kept closing against his will, and eventually he gave up the task entirely as he felt Kurt grow more confident in the task.
By the time he finished and capped the jar, Blaine was barely awake, clinging to consciousness so he wouldn't slip below and miss Kurt's presence. He relaxed when he felt Kurt settle beside him, letting himself be pulled over so his cheek was resting against Kurt's shoulder.
And as he listened to him breathe and Kurt trailed his fingers gently up and down Blaine's side, Blaine couldn't help but think that, really, they were okay.
They would be okay.
And when he awoke the next morning and felt Kurt asleep beside him, finally able to breathe again himself, he believed it.
Author's Notes: As promised: the follow up to In Sickness or Health.