Kurt checks his email first thing every morning. If he was getting an email from Sam that day, it was almost always in his inbox by the time he got up. Sam’s best chance to use the computer station was around lunch Middle Eastern time, which was four in the morning for Kurt. There was only a new email every three or four days, but Kurt was hopeful every morning that he’d hear something, anything from this boy who had invaded his head and his heart and refused to leave either of them. Most of the time Sam’s emails are sent to a list of nearly fifty people, including basically every Army guy Sam got to know in Iraq who is now back in the states. Kurt knows Sam does this so there’s no reason to question why Kurt’s email is on the list. These emails are generic, just to let everyone know that he’s alright and getting through his tour fine with a funny story or two mixed in about his unit. But every two or three weeks, Sam will send one just to him. They’re hardly more intimate than the mass emails that Sam sends, but Kurt treasures each one of them. He’s printed them all out and can’t help but read them in bed right before he goes to sleep. Sam asks Kurt how his new job’s going and how civilian life feels, talks about going for a beer to catch up once he’s back in the states. He tells Kurt about the new translator he’s working with and how his skills don’t nearly match up to Kurt’s. They would say little to most people, but they say everything to Kurt.
Kurt always forces himself to wait 24 hours before replying, lest it seem like he’s too eager to reply to Sam. He tries to keep the same casual, light-hearted tone that infuses Sam’s emails, but he’s not nearly as good at it. But then again, Sam doesn’t have to work in questions about Kurt’s safety like Kurt does. How do you casually work into an email that you spend every night worrying about Sam’s safety, wondering if giving up atheism is worth it so you can start praying and finally feel like you’re doing something, anything to help? But Kurt does the best he can anyway, because he knows how important it is to Sam. He tells Sam about his new translation job at the UN, about how much he loves living in New York City, and how he’d love to see Sam if he ever ended up in the Big Apple.
It’s ridiculous how much the emails affect his mood for the rest of the day. On the days he gets an email from Sam, especially one just for him, everything’s better. The workday flies by and nothing can bring him down. When he hasn’t heard from Sam in days though, or once nearly a week, work is unbearable. All he wants is for the day to be over so that he can go home, go to bed and hopefully wake up to an email from Sam telling Kurt that’s he’s fine and recalling some stupid prank he and that Puckerman guy pulled.
Considering he’s finally living in New York City, the one place he’s always dreamed of living, his social life is pathetic. If it wasn’t for the Chinese translator he sits beside at work, he’d probably have no friends at all. Tina and Kurt took an instant liking to each other the first day Kurt started. Apparently her previous office mate, some creeper named Jacob, had been fired for sexual harassment so Tina was just ecstatic to be able to come to work without getting hit on anymore. She dragged him out drinking his very first weekend in New York with her boyfriend Mike, and they were both so damn nice and genuinely interested in Kurt and his life that he ended up spilling his whole damn life story.
He told them how he’d been out in high school, how lonely it had been being the only out kid in his town with no one else around who understood. How he’d finally found friends who really got him at UMich and how he ended up falling in love with an Arabic language class and changing his major. He told them about Blaine, about falling in love for the first time. How Blaine had broken his heart senior year and most of their mutual friends had apparently decided Kurt was dispensable. In the midst of all this, Kurt’s professor had told him that he was one of the most promising language students, and that with the real-world experience the military could offer, almost any translating door could be open for Kurt.
Stupidly, Kurt had figured that after Blaine two years without the possibility of a boyfriend sounded perfect. He’d make a huge jump in his career and have plenty of time for boys after that. And it had worked, for a while. The job was dangerous, but rewarding, helping American soldiers talk with local officials and working to avoid fighting town-by-town. Then with six months to go in his commitment, he was assigned to work with a new squad.
The unit was nondescript, filled with Army guys Kurt had met a million times before. Except Private First Class Sam Evans, the soldier that the squad commander had assigned Kurt to work with in interacting with local community leaders. Not only was he attractive, with a mess of blond hair that had to be pushing Army regulations, but he was just so damn friendly. Except for other translators, the soldiers he’d worked with had treated him like a means to an end and little else, and Kurt had been happy to repay the favor. But Sam treated him like a like-lost friend from the start.
Their friendship grew quickly, but at first Kurt thought it was just that. He’d had friendships with straight guys before, even ones he had found attractive, so he knew better than to fall for Sam. But everything felt different this time, even if he couldn’t quite verbalize what the difference was.
Kurt figured out what was going on the day their Humvee got a flat tire and he volunteered to change it. Sam also got out to help, not that Kurt needed it, but when he stood back up after replacing the flat, Sam’s look of pure desire almost bowled Kurt over. He really thought for a moment that Sam was going to push him against the Humvee and have his way with him, but Sam shook it off and jumped back in the jeep.
Kurt eventually confronted Sam about his feelings and they began an illicit relationship, if one could call it that considering they almost never touched and didn’t talk about anything serious unless they were alone. This lasted until Kurt finished up his obligation to the army and was discharged. If Kurt thought that what he and Sam were doing was difficult in Iraq, being thousands of miles away was infinitely worse. But there was nothing to be done until Sam had finished his tour and gotten out as well.
Kurt woke up the next morning with a hangover so bad it took him a half-an-hour to realize that he’d told Tina EVERYTHING. A fifteen minute phone call and an hour-long brunch later, Kurt was confident that Tina and Mike would keep his and Sam’s secret. But as a result, Tina knew why Kurt had a tendency to mope anytime anything non-work related came up and tried to keep his spirits up.
Tina and Mike were great friends really, better than Kurt deserved considering the way he acted. Going out on the town or to see a show usually didn’t seem worth it, as he usually spent most of the time wondering what Sam would think of these different bars and whether he would be fascinated by this play or fall asleep halfway through.
Tina even suggested dating once, which led to the only real knock-down drag out fight they’d ever had. Tina was concerned that Kurt had no real commitment from Sam, someone he’d never even had a real relationship with, and could be throwing nearly a year of his life away for something that never panned out. She’d wanted him to try going out on a couple dates, just to see that he could again. Kurt knew that he’d feel like he was cheating on Sam if he went out on even one date with someone else, which Kurt tried to explain to her while gathering his things and storming out of her apartment.
In retrospect, he realized he couldn’t really get his point across because it was completely irrational. But he couldn’t help how he felt. He didn’t know if it was more ironic or pathetic that he was in a city with thousands of eligible men and all he wanted to do was see another mass email from a man halfway across the world. Fortunately, Tina didn’t bring dating up again.
A couple months after he started his new job, Kurt almost had the opportunity to go to Iraq. UN inspectors were traveling through the country and Kurt was asked to go. He jumped at the opportunity to be even in the same time zone as Sam, but the trip was ultimately cancelled due to increased violence. Kurt was crushed despite realizing that the chances of him seeing Sam on that trip were incredibly slim. The “increased violence” reports didn’t exactly put his mind at ease either.
Everything came to a head a few weeks later. Along with the reports of increased violence, Kurt hadn’t heard from Sam in eight days, longer than Sam had ever gone without emailing. Kurt knew that there were reasonable explanations for Sam’s absence but couldn’t help but be sick with worry and dread.
The morning had gone predictably bad considering Kurt’s mood. He had forgotten him umbrella and gotten wet on the way to work. He was late on his latest project and couldn’t find the energy to finish it. When he spilled his coffee all over the keyboard, he couldn’t handle it and fled to a thankfully empty break room to try and hold back tears.
Tina had seen Kurt look upset, though, and followed him. “Kurt, what’s wrong? You look like you’re about to cry. I know dealing with IT can be a bitch but they’ll get you a new keyboard.”
“It’s Sam,” Kurt said with watery eyes. “I think he might be dead.”
“What? Why would you think that? Did you hear something about him being hurt?”
“No, that’s the point. I haven’t heard from him in eight days. That’s the longest he’s ever gone without an email. And I wouldn’t hear anything from anybody. In the eyes of everyone else I’m nobody to him. Some guy who shared his Humvee for six months. Tina, I have to check the Military Times list of Killed In Action. That’s how I’ll find out if he's dead. And I can’t handle it anymore. I just can’t.”
Kurt started crying again and Tina pulled him into a tight hug, trying to give all the inadequate comfort she could. She knew the only person could really make this better was Sam, but she would have to do the best she could in his absence. After Kurt had calmed down, she ordered him to go collect his things and meet her out front. While he did that, she told Kurt’s boss he had fallen ill and told IT that his keyboard needed replacing. Out front, she flagged down a taxi and sent Kurt home with orders to call her later that night to check in.
Kurt laid in bed the rest of the day, watching reruns of America’s Next Top Model and trying as best as he could not to think about anything related to the army or the war or Sam. He didn’t put on depressing music and cry even though he wanted to. He figured there’d be a lifetime to do that if Sam were really dead. He fell into a restless sleep clutching his iPhone with his email account open, with past conversations he’d had with Sam mixed in with images of a funeral where no one knew who he was or why he was crying.
The next morning thankfully brought an email from Sam and an explanation for his absence. His team had been pinned down by enemy fire and ended up having to stay in a safe house for two nights until they could be rescued. Sam was fine, but his friend Puckerman had been injured. Luckily he would eventually recover, but he was being sent home for rehabilitation and wouldn't be returning to Iraq. Sam had spent that past two days at the hospital with the rest of his team before realizing how long it had been since his last email.
Kurt was ecstatic that Sam was ok. That feeling took him throughout the day, helping him finish his project and take Tina out to a thank you/celebratory lunch. But by the time he arrived back home, Kurt realized that the clock had started all over again. How many days would it be this time until he heard from Sam? How many until he fell apart again? Kurt didn’t have any answers for this, any solutions other than to wait for the day that Sam could be discharged.
It was then he looked down and realized that he had another email from Sam, this time addressed just to him. It was a reply to a news story he had forwarded Sam days ago, before he had realized the length of Sam’s absence.
hey kurt, sorry about the lack of email this past week. You know how things get. I have some free time to video chat tomorrow night (4 pm your time) and none of my family are available. I figured we could catch up if you were free. ~sam
Kurt nearly dropped his phone. They had both decided that video chats were too dangerous. The computer rooms were rarely empty and they both thought it would be difficult to talk to each other like that without slipping up. After all, it would be difficult to explain why Sam was telling his old Army translator how much he missed him with tears in his eyes. But if Sam wanted to try, Kurt wasn’t going to say no. He replied with a quick ok. Kurt hadn’t seen Sam’s real (alive) face in far too long.
The next day was Saturday, thank goodness, so Kurt didn’t have to worry about work. He spent the day amped up to 11, repeatedly checking his computer and webcam and internet connection. If some piece of electronics stopped this from happening, he swore he would buy a gun and threaten a few IT guys.
A few minutes after 4, Sam signed on and established a connection with Kurt. Then Sam’s smiling face appeared, tired but just as beautiful as Kurt remembered. Kurt had vowed not to cry during their conversation but just seeing Sam’s face made it nearly impossible. He held it in though, determined to make this call a success so that they might do another one next month.
They talked about mundane things, anything that old friends would talk about and nothing that new lovers would say. Anyone walking by Sam wouldn’t find the conversation any different from thousands of others going on every day. But Kurt could feel the warm affection emanating from Sam’s eyes slightly watery eyes and hear it in Sam’s voice, even if the words were vastly different.
At the end of the conversation, Sam looked around to see if anyone was nearby before adding one more thing.
“Listen Kurt, I know you worry about something happening to me and you not knowing. So now that Puck’s headed back to the states, I told my Mom to let him know if anything happened to me. And I gave him your contact info and told him to let you know anything he heard from my mom. Hopefully, this’ll never need to be used, but I hope it gives you some piece of mind.”
Kurt didn’t know what to say, even if he hadn’t been constrained from saying anything at all. This only served to remind Kurt again of all the things he loved about Sam. “Thank you. You don’t know how much that means to me. It’s like a huge weight’s been lifted.”
“I’m glad. I have to go, I’m sorry we don’t have more time.”
“I understand. Go. Until next time.”
Sam patted his heart softly and closed the connection.
Kurt eventually closed his laptop with a sad smile. It was wonderful, seeing Sam again, hearing Sam’s voice again. And he was so thankful that Sam had found a way to let Kurt know if anything happened to him. But there was still so much he wanted to say to Sam, so much wanted to hear back. He knew why it had to be this way for now, knew that this was only temporary and that Sam wouldn’t be in Iraq forever. But it didn’t make him hate it any less.
About a week after his video chat with Sam, Kurt received a large envelope from Lima, Ohio. Inside it, Kurt found a note and a regular sized envelope with his name on it. The note simply said From my boy, To his boy ~Puck. Kurt opened the second envelope to find a letter written in Sam’s familiar handwriting.
I know you never met Puck while you were over here, but I’m sure you could tell from my emails that he has become a good friend and that I have trusted him with my life repeatedly. I have also trusted him with the knowledge of our relationship. So when I realized that he would be able to send something to you away from the prying eyes of the Army, I jumped at the opportunity to write you.
There’s so much I want to say to you right now, but words have never been my strong suit. I’m sure if our roles were reversed, your letter would be so beautiful I would cry in front of my team and never hear the end of it. So let me just say simply that I love you. I love you more than I thought possible for one person to love another.
I hate our current situation- that we’re worlds away from each other, unable to say what we really feel. I hate the you’re not living the life you deserve because of me, that you’re lonely and left dreaming for better days in a future neither of us can guarantee. But I will never hate the army or this place, because they gave me you. I cannot imagine my life without you in it. Even though our communication is limited right now, I hear your voice inside my head everyday and I know that’s I’m a better person for having met you.
Someday, I hope to repay in some small way all that you’ve given to me. Someday, I hope to take you in my arms and love you the way you deserve. Someday, I hope you’ll wake up to me lying beside you and know that all this was worth it. But until that day, know that all of my heart is with you and that my dreams will be of those somedays until they come true.
P.S. This may sound greedy on my part, but if there’s anything you’d like to send me but haven’t been able to, Puck said he’d be happy to help you out. :) Also, did I mention I love you? Because I do.
Kurt tried to keep his tears from falling on the paper, knowing that he would want to keep this letter for a very long time. He’d have to make a copy, so that he could store away the original and still read these beautiful words every night before he went to sleep.
The next day, Kurt went out and purchased a silver key ring, inscribing on it the words Until Someday and mailing to the address the letter had come from. It wasn’t much, one love letter and a key ring with a two word reply.
But for now, it would be enough.