Every few weeks, Blaine would spend Friday or Saturday night at Kurt's house. They'd spend the evening watching a movie (sometimes more than one, if they weren't tired) and eating popcorn, and then Blaine would sleep on the couch. Kurt would wake up about an hour before him and make breakfast crepes for them both, as well as a few extra ones for the bottomless pit that was Finn's stomach in the morning. After that, the two of them would leave Finn to his weekend videogame marathons and go somewhere to shop, have coffee, or just hang out for the day. It was a routine that Blaine was constantly looking forward to, and one of the things he loved best about attending McKinley.
It was one of these mornings when Blaine woke up and was surprised that he couldn't smell the fresh crepe batter being warmed over the stove. He sighed, rubbing the sleep-grime out of his eyes and pulling the blanket off his legs, stretching before heading for the kitchen.
Kurt was nowhere to be seen, and only Finn was sitting on a stool at the kitchen island, devouring a gigantic bowl of oatmeal that looked like it contained more syrup than anything else. Blaine suppressed a grimace and bid Finn a good morning.
"Hey, dude," Finn said through a mouthful of syrupy oats and raisins. "What's up?"
"Out on the porch," Finn answered. "You might want to get a jacket on before you go out there, though. It's snowing a little."
Finn let Blaine borrow his gigantic letterman jacket and snow boots, and Blaine shivered in his pajama pants as he stepped outside. Kurt was sitting on the flaking wooden bench, looking out at the light January snow falling onto the street.
"Hey, you," Blaine greeted him with a smile.
Kurt turned his head and gave Blaine a wordless nod, which made Blaine frown a little. Kurt's face looked worn, his eyes slightly shadowed. He'd obviously skipped his skin routine.
"No skin sloughing this morning?" Blaine ventured, sinking onto the bench beside him.
Kurt gave him a strange look. "Why would I do that?"
What startled Blaine even more than Kurt's odd abhorrence of skincare was the voice in which he'd spoken. It had sounded like Kurt had caught strep throat overnight, or at least had developed a sizable Adam's apple.
"Why are you talking like that?" Blaine asked.
Kurt was almost glaring at him now, his eyebrows pulled together and his upper lip half-curled as if he had a bad taste in his mouth. "How else would I talk?" he asked flatly, his voice still low and graveled.
Blaine stared at him, stunned. He'd never seen Kurt act so callously, especially over such a small point of conversation. He was about to press Kurt further when Burt poked his head out of the house and quickly said, "Come on, kiddo, time for breakfast."
"I'm not hungry," Kurt snapped, looking back out towards the road.
Burt glanced nervously at Blaine for a second before insisting, "You need to eat something."
"I said I'm not hungry."
"Just half a bowl of corn flakes, kiddo, that's all I'm asking," Burt bargained. "Half a bowl won't kill you."
"It might," Kurt huffed as he stood up, brushing past Blaine and stomping into the house.
Still frowning deeply, Blaine stood and followed Kurt and his father back into the kitchen. Kurt shrugged off his coat and dropped it on the floor below the coat rack instead of neatly hanging it up like he usually did, and then pulled himself onto a stool next to Finn, slouching down and resting his chin on his arms. Burt seemed to be either unaware of Kurt's strange behavior or ignoring it, and he set a bowl of corn flakes on the counter in front of Kurt, who scowled at it distastefully.
"So... no crepes?" Blaine asked, feeling uncomfortably out of the loop even though he had no idea if such a 'loop' even existed.
Maybe it did, though, since Burt sent a pointed glance in Finn's direction, and Finn abruptly turned around and said, "Hey, so… since Kurt's got to go to the doctor's soon, how about you and me go bowling? We could have a dudes' day out."
Blaine's gaze flickered to Kurt, who still had his back to Blaine and was toying unhappily with his cereal rather than eating it. "…Yeah, okay," Blaine said after several seconds of indecision. He didn't want to go bowling, but Finn was terrible at lying and keeping secrets, so Blaine figured that if he wanted to know what was going on, if anything, then he might be able to glean some insight from Kurt's gargantuan stepbrother. "That'd be great."
Finn grinned, genuinely happy that Blaine had accepted. "Awesome. I'll be done eating by the time you get dressed." He exchanged another quick look with Burt as he turned back to his oatmeal, letting Blaine head back to the living room.
Now thoroughly confused, Blaine quickly changed into his clothes and shoved his pajamas into his backpack before stripping the sheet and blanket off the cushions and folding them neatly on the couch arm so that Carole wouldn't have to clean up after him. He did this all without much thought to it, instead putting his brainpower towards possible explanations for Kurt's newfound oddities. However, by the time he returned to the kitchen, he'd come up with no conclusions.
At least, none that made any sense.
Bowling with Finn was boring more than anything else, but Blaine knew that if he weren't so preoccupied that it would have been at least somewhat entertaining. As it was, Blaine kept picturing Kurt's face from that morning. It was disturbing, seeing his boyfriend's normally bright and cheeky features so… flat. There had been an almost creepy deadness to Kurt's eyes when they were sitting on the porch that Blaine found extremely hard to ignore, and he couldn't shake the feeling that there was a much deeper reason for it than just waking up on the wrong side of the bed.
"Dude," Finn's voice cut through Blaine's thought bubbles. "Hello? It's your turn."
Blaine's eyes snapped up. "Oh, sorry." He stood up and grabbed his twelve-pound ball from the rack, giving it a halfhearted roll down the aisle to knock down a third of the pins.
"Man, you are seriously off your game today," Finn observed. "The last time you went bowling with Kurt and me, you kicked both our asses by a long shot."
Blaine's ball rolled back onto the rack from the pipe, and Blaine gave it another toss, not caring that it went straight into the gutter.
"Is something up?" Finn asked, slurping his root beer.
Blaine gawked at the taller boy. "Are you serious? Were you even there this morning?"
Finn paused, clearly uncertain of what to say. "What do you mean?"
Blaine dropped into his chair across from Finn, baffled and more than a little annoyed. "Finn, Kurt was acting like… like… I don't know what he was acting like, but he definitely wasn't himself."
Finn looked surprised, but the expression lasted a little too long to be true. "I didn't notice."
"Seriously, Finn?" Blaine said dryly. "You're that bad a liar?
Finn sighed and put his root beer down, looking at his hands. "Okay, yeah, I know what's going on with him."
"Well?" Blaine prompted, leaning forward.
"I can't tell you, dude. I wish I could, but it's Kurt's business."
"It's my business too! I'm his boyfriend!"
Finn finally looked at Blaine with a serious expression. "Look, I know it's your business, and I'd rather that you know. But he's your boyfriend, which means that he's got to be the one to tell you."
Blaine huffed, irritated that Finn refused to tell him but even more irritated that Finn was right.
That night, as Blaine was holed up in his bedroom at home and attempting to concentrate on his calculus homework, his cell phone rang. "Hello?" he said, cradling it between his ear and shoulder and not even bothering to check the caller ID.
Blaine's eyebrows snapped together. "Finn?"
"What's going on? It's almost ten."
There was a long pause on the other end. "Look, Blaine… I-I talked with Kurt and I don't think he's going to tell you what's up."
"He's totally going to murder me for this, and so is Burt, but I really think you deserve to know."
Blaine tossed his pen onto his desk, his homework forgotten. "Okay, what is it?"
"I don't want to talk about it over the phone. Can you meet me at Molly's in like twenty minutes?"
"I'll be there in ten."
Finn arrived at Molly's 24-Hour Diner before Blaine did and was already sitting at a table in the corner when Blaine walked in. They were the only people in the diner, so the waitress swooped down on them before Blaine even had a chance to open his mouth.
"Can I get you boys anything?" the waitress asked.
"Just a coffee, thanks," Blaine said, grateful when Finn told her he didn't need anything and she walked away. He leaned forward. "Okay, so what's going on with him?"
Finn let out a long, slow breath, studying the wood grain of the table. "That's the thing…" he said quietly, like he was still trying to figure out how to phrase whatever he was trying to say. "Kurt's not a him."
Blaine blinked. "Um, what?" He had absolutely no clue what Finn meant, because he'd seen everything underneath Kurt's many layers and Kurt was most definitely not a her, either. "What do you mean?"
"He's not a him," Finn repeated. "He's a them."