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.
Antsy isn't the word. And neither is obsessive, in spite of Rachel's constant reminders to the contrary.
He thinks that spastic might come a little closer to the mark, alternating wildly from Oh my God I have so much to get done and I don't know how to do anything. (Actually, he thinks, sitting cross-legged on the couch and meditating over one of his more grueling mid-term papers, they might be the same thing.)
Hectic. Hectic is a good word because everything in his little sphere of influence seems to not only have accelerated to twice its normal velocity but continued to rapidly increase on an exponential, uncontrollable upward climb. (And if he hears another word criticizing the placement of his light colored socks placed on top of his darker ones he will flip - his - shit.)
Maybe he is obsessive, trying to do everything at once. Or, wait, that's compulsive.
Compulsive seems fairly accurate as he crawls into bed late at night, head tiredly flumping into his pillow as he reaches out blindly for Bruce. Bruce is nice. Bruce doesn't talk or ask questions or nag him. Bruce doesn't even shower until there isn't a drop of hot water in the entire street left, either, and he's never once serenaded himself in three-part harmony, either.
No, no. Bruce is nice.
But Bruce isn't warm or slow-moving or a little grumbly in the mornings. He isn't sleepy-eyed and tousle-haired and clingy, parted lips and sleepy breaths - Mm, come on, it's too early for this, I don't wanna get up - no, neither do you, come on - yes, come back, thank you -
He's pretty sure he's reached the level of 'manic' by mid-week. He snaps at the drop of a hat, refusing to eat until he almost stress-vomits at four in the afternoon at Vogue dot com's headquarters, so queasy and pale that Isabelle pulls him (shaky-legged and stumbling) into her office and asks him - three times, no less - if he needs to see someone, if he's gonna be okay, if he wants to lie down.
He agrees to the latter and sleeps for four hours.
Santana comes to walk him home because she's a good friend and he's willing to pay her back. If friendships can be bought, then at least Santana gives precisely what she expects in return, which is more than most people can claim.
By the time Thursday rolls around, he's managed to piece himself back together enough that he thinks 'determined' suits him. He manages to finish his mid-terms (and thank God) without actually passing out during any of them, and he even manages to listen to twenty minutes of Rachel's harangue about her day before it turns to Finn and he clocks back out.
(Besides, Finn is home, the home life that they left behind, anyway, parents and family and friends and boyfriends and - )
Kurt doesn't want to think about boyfriends just yet.
It's hard not to, though, even with most of his waking thoughts turning invariably to worries about his dad. For the better part of two years, being in a relationship with Blaine was . . . it was everything. It was the thing that he looked forward once a week, at first, maybe twice if they were lucky (but classes at Dalton were unforgiving and Kurt was adjusting and try though they might they could never seem to sync things up perfectly). But finally they got it and it was like they were never separated again. They spent every moment that they could together, centralizing around coffee breaks (grabbing a coffee was their go-to, their one reliable fallback that they knew worked for them, an easy method of meeting and savoring each other's presence) and gravitating outward to include other activities.
Glee club was never one of those activities, oddly enough. Blaine slipped into lead Warbler mode the second he stepped through the heavy wooden doors of the Warbler's hall, devoting his entire focus to their performances, their songs, their cohesiveness as a group. It was charming and frustrating to watch, and while he was still pining after him, Kurt had dreamed often of being able to grab Blaine by the shoulders, shake him, and make him hear himself because there was so much more to all of this than merely being the best.
It was about the screw-ups and the outcasts alike. It was about forgetting the choreography and fumbling the lyrics and even not showing up until five minutes before they were green-lighted. It was about making friends and memories and shedding that layer of ostracism that hovered permanently over the small masses that sought outlets for their creativity, being a part of something special.
(And now he sounds like Rachel, he thinks, wrinkling his nose at himself in the mirror before discarding yet another too-dark tie.)
All of that was unspeakable to the Warblers, though, and there was a certain security to the group's reliability. More than once, Kurt had wished the same dependable instincts had been instilled on his own companions back at McKinley. It wasn't unusual for a fight to last weeks and encompass the entirety of the Glee club before simmering out. Those things didn't happen with the Warblers, and while Kurt knew that Blaine loved that, it just didn't make it home for him.
Of course, returning to McKinley - and later, engaging Blaine at McKinley - was not what he expected. McKinley was full of surprises. He hadn't expected the early antagonism from Finn, or Blaine's explosive response to Sam's comments about 'selling sex.'
(He hadn't mentioned it, either, had pointedly stayed quiet that night as they sat in his bedroom. He was finishing up his moisturizing routine at the vanity, utterly focused on the silent figure behind him until at last Blaine said softly, "I'm sorry." Kurt didn't ask why he was sorry or who he was sorry for, but he nodded, and he felt some of the tension from Blaine ease, some expectancy of retribution vanquished.)
Still, it was home. Coming home had brought him back into the drama of his own Glee club and Blaine with it. And while they'd never really bonded over it, they'd shared moments of fond exasperation amid the chaos, shy smiles and raised eyebrows and brushing fingertips where others weren't likely to notice all expressing more than the shouted conversations around them could possibly convey.
It was so much better back then, Kurt thinks ruefully, folding another pair of socks carefully into his suitcase, because even though they were caged and quiet and relentlessly careful (because they weren't going to cause trouble, they weren't), they were together. And that was what mattered.
(Stolen moments of intimacy, heated breath and wandering hands and soft touches and long, sated sighs.)
He tries not to think about it often, what they've become, but like his dad's cancer, it tends to creep on him unexpectedly and refuse to be ignored.
He can't deny that something changed for them at the wedding. Whether it was a casual acceptance of dismissal or a dim spark of hope, he tried to set aside his feelings entirely, separate the physical intimacy that left his skin hot and tingling even in the afterglow from the emotional stress of what are we?
Blaine seemed to know, but he also seemed desperately willing to believe anything that meant another moment longer, another breathless second with sweaty limbs curled around each other and breath almost misting in front of them, soft, shaky smiles curling their lips in spite of themselves.
Kurt can't swallow properly as he turns in his mirror, ignoring the soft noises of the city beyond. He's wanted this life - this dream - for so long that it feels strange to have finally attained it. Surreal. Unattainable. All the beauty and limelight and fame are at his fingertips, but he's also never felt more isolated and powerless, unable to control any part of his future.
Let alone the most important parts.
Focus on your dad, he coaches himself, which proves detrimental advice as it causes his already spiraling emotions to ratchet further downward.
He's carefully optimistic. He's done his research (endless, endless hours of scrolling through web searches related to cancer treatments and success rates and is he going to die?), and it seems more likely than not that his father will be fine.
Still. He has his things. His charms, he could think of them, little superstitious things that keep him sane in the dark and the quiet. Socks and taps and soft, easy breaths that don't harm the illusion of calm even as darkness threatens to shatter it all.
It'll only take one bad test result, one negative response to ruin all that they've been fighting for. He beat a heart attack (caused by an arrhythmia, and Kurt still wants to dry-heave at the thought that his dad could have actually died that day in the garage); he can beat cancer.
He has to.
He has to.
His phone vibrates in his pocket and he almost jumps out of his skin, frantically trying to pull it out and staring for one baffled moment at the name before hitting accept.
"Hi." Blaine's breathless, which is unusual, especially given the hour (Kurt pointedly puts a leash on his dirty mind and sits it down because not now) before he says, "I just ... wanted to make sure that you were still coming. Tomorrow. That you were still coming to Lima."
"Of course I am," Kurt says, and he's a little annoyed because he's spent four hours reiterating the same thing to know less than three dozen people, teachers and co-workers and friends alike. "Why wouldn't I be?"
"I - " Blaine swallows, then he asks in a rush, "Are we okay?" and suddenly the silence in the room could not be louder, the cars outside even more obtrusive than before.
Kurt tries to say something, belatedly realizing that he hasn't even told Adam that he's heading back to Lima and he thought that this was all part of the 'friends with benefits,' deal, the no-strings-attached, we're just friends package.
"I - I'm sorry, I shouldn't have called, it's late," Blaine says, after an incalculable time, but Kurt's saying, "I'm glad you did," and he quiets mid-rant.
"I'm glad you called me, Blaine," he repeats.
A throat clicks softly on the other end of the line. "I don't want to . . . make this any harder on you than it already is," he emphasizes quietly. "I can't imagine what you're going through right now."
Kurt lays down another pair of socks in his suit case and sits down on the edge of the bed, almost gently. "Look, we're not . . . the same people that we were a year ago. Six months ago. We've both changed and grown and . . . we're different. You're different, and I'm different, and everything has changed. But you're still my best friend, okay?"
Saying it again - saying it after so long - loosens something in his chest, and the quiet exhalation on the other end is equally soothing. He thinks for a moment that that's it, that that's really all Blaine needed to hear before there's a soft, "I want to be more than just your friend, Kurt."
Kurt thinks back to the wedding, pulling Blaine into the back seat of a car and thinking how easy it was to just - pretend. To fool around and kiss and act like not a second had passed and maybe, just maybe, Blaine never slept with someone else, never gave someone else that part of himself that no one else was supposed to have when it was supposed to be Kurt's - and realizes how utterly naive he is.
Because it's still bitter and raw and painful, it still makes something in his stomach sink and his chest tighten, his eyes burn and the air in his lungs vanish. It makes him want to scream because it's so unfair, because Blaine broke them, he broke them, and they can never be the same again, never -
Yet he's still clutching the pieces. He's still holding the scattered remains of his heart and trying to ignore the missing pieces, the gaping hole where Blaine always used to be. A lump thickens in his throat as he tries to picture just letting Blaine quietly dissolve from his life, becoming secondary first to closer friends, later to a friend that's more, a best friend, a boyfriend, a lover. His stomach twists at the thought, hollow without anger or disgust to propel him, only a soft, empty heartache.
"I really wish you were here right now," Kurt says, voice low, and he knows that there's a double meaning there - a hundred meanings, really - but not delving into any of them, knowing that Blaine knows. "I really, really wish you were here right now, Blaine, because maybe then I'd know what to say to you, other than I think we need more time. To process things."
"Of course," Blaine says, at once, and he's already through his fourth repetition of That's fine before Kurt cuts in with a simple, "Blaine?"
The way his breath hitches a little is gratifying. Kurt can't really explain why but it is, and when he says, "Yes?" it's a little deeper than before, painfully vulnerable, willing to accept whatever Kurt has to say.
He's willing to accept this, Kurt thinks, amazed and saddened at the thought, of Blaine settling for him as a friend and soon-to-be shadow-of-a-lover. Because they would move on - eventually, they would, it's who they are - but that isn't how he feels, right then. He's never felt less like moving on from someone, even knowing that -
What are we?
"I can't . . . tell you exactly how I feel about us, because I don't know," he says at last. "But my answer for now is . . . yes. Yes, I want to be something more." It's a hard admission, even knowing it's true, and when he follows it up with, "But right now, I need to focus on my dad, okay?" it's a relief when Blaine hurriedly assures that that's fine, that's fine, that's perfectly fine.
"Would it be too much to ask if I could meet you at the airport?" Blaine asks, voice a little thick. "I, uh. I'd love to see you again. Before everyone else."
Everyone else includes his dad, Kurt knows, because he's having another test done that day and in spite of his insistence that he would cancel it to meet Kurt and Carole's agreement that she could leave him and meet Kurt, he'd held his ground and stayed firm, refusing to let them reschedule. They needed to know this. Soon. Now, he thought, desperation and panic and worry creeping back in.
"That's - that's probably a little much, isn't it?" Blaine says, and it takes Kurt a moment to remember that they're still talking.
"No," he says. "No. Of course not. I would - I'd like it. If you were there. That'd be nice." Then, aiming for nonchalant, he adds, "Although I'm sure the Lima cabs would be cheaper than the ones here."
"Don't be surprised," Blaine warns, and Kurt wonders, wonders for one long moment if he rode in one himself to the airport that cold October night so long ago, knuckles white and head bowed and heart heavy with the knowledge, with the conviction that he was going to end their relationship, once and - in a way - for all.
It's not, he decides, folding one last pair of socks into his suit case before answering, "I guess I'm glad I won't have to worry about those, then."
Blaine nods. Kurt can't see it, but he knows it.
"I should - I should let you get some sleep," Blaine says, sounding a little sheepish as he points out, "It's late."
"Yeah," Kurt echoes, suddenly dreading the prospect of test results and early flights and sleepless hours with a stuffed pillow. "I'll see you soon. I love you."
"Love you, too," Blaine replies, and there's a moment when neither of them know what to do before Kurt hangs up and then there's just the white noise of the city around him.
And maybe he'll slip back into that panicky mode the second he realizes that his dad could either live or die based on this next prognosis, that he could be in the clear or only at the beginning of a long battle against cancer. He'll forget himself and snap at people he shouldn't and say things he never meant to.
But every time Blaine gives him that look - from the second he sees him in the terminal, a quick embrace and a murmured greeting following belatedly - he can't forget what they've said. What they are.
But we still want - need - each other just as much as we did before.
It's comforting, and even as he lets go and pulls back and slips back into his worried state, he can't help but relax a little when Blaine takes his hand and leads him out of the airport.