It is strange how there are moments in every person’s life, these tiny little packages of time, that end up being so hugely significant simply because they are the moments right before our world begins to change and we are set on a brand new path.
We hardly ever get a warning, they are mere seconds in the day-to-day of our lives, and only in looking back do we tend to pinpoint them, saying “There. That moment right there was the last time I existed the way I was before, because in the next moment everything shifted.”
No one knows this better than Kurt Hummel.
He remembers the moment right before he was told that a split second on an icy road had set him on the path toward learning about the heartbreak of loss the day his mother died.
He remembers the moment right before he began to sing, auditioning for Glee club sophomore year, setting him on the path toward friendship and self-acceptance.
He remembers the moment right before he looked down a staircase and said, “Excuse me, can I ask you a question? I’m new here.” setting him on the path toward Dalton and Blaine and love.
He remembers the moment before he opened a letter six weeks ago, a letter which set him on the path toward NYADA and New York and the future.
He has several little moments coming for him soon, just the seconds that exist before two conversations and a phone call, that collectively are going to be the points he looks back on as having existed right before his entire life got turned on its head, setting him on a path he never would have predicted in his wildest dreams. It is a path that is going to change his entire world, though he won’t understand that for quite some time.
Alone, each of these moments may still have been significant, still existed before some type of change as all moments do. But together these moments hover between Kurt as he is now and Kurt as he will always be. He just doesn’t know it yet.
The first moment comes at the beginning of May right as the weather is beginning to change, heating up in earnest in anticipation of summer. It is exactly three weeks before graduation.
It is the first step.
Blaine grabs him in the hallway after French, which is in and of itself surprising. Not only does Blaine try and avoid physical contact in the hallways, they both do, but usually Blaine’s on the other side of the building dashing between Math and Chemistry.
“Hey,” Kurt says, surprise coloring his face and tone, “Everything all right? I wasn’t expecting to see you until lunch.”
Blaine nods quickly, but won’t quite meet his eye either which is the second sign that something’s up. Kurt feels unease settle heavy in his stomach but tries to ignore it. This is Blaine; Blaine who he trusts, Blaine who always makes things okay even when they aren’t. There is no reason to feel such an irrational wave of dread.
“Yeah,” Blaine says, still tugging at his arm to get him to step back toward a bank of lockers and out of the flow of traffic in the hallway, “At least, I hope so. I just- I kinda need to talk to you.”
Kurt takes Blaine’s hand from where it is clutching at his arm (wrinkling the shirt that Kurt meticulously pressed this morning) and twines their fingers together instead.
“Okay,” Kurt says slowly, “Do you need to talk right now? We’ve got class in, like, two minutes.”
“I-I’d rather not wait,” Blaine says, “I was hoping maybe-can we….Kurt can we go somewhere? Your house is empty right now isn’t it?”
Now Kurt is really starting to worry, because Blaine Anderson suggesting skipping school is most definitely one of the signs of the apocalypse.
“Blaine you’re scaring me,” he admits, even though he’s already moving them down the hall and toward an exit. If Blaine wants to leave Kurt’s going to make it happen, and it will be easier to sneak away without being seen before the between-class crush dissipates. “Is someone hurt? Did someone say something to you?”
Blaine shakes his head again, moving impatiently now that it’s clear Kurt’s along for the ride. He doesn’t look at Kurt again until they’re out the doors and almost jogging to Kurt’s Navigator, but when he does Kurt recognizes the gleam in his eyes for what it is – excitement, and a little bit of fear.
It is unexpected enough to hold Kurt’s tongue until they are in the car, but even then Blaine refuses to answer his questions.
“Just take us to your house Kurt, I’d rather discuss it when we have the space and time to actually talk.”
Kurt huffs impatiently, but turns the ignition anyway and drives as fast as the little voice in his head that always tells him to be safe on the road (it sounds suspiciously like his dad) lets him. When they finally pull into his driveway he’s out of the car almost before it stops, yanking the key out and heading to the front door, sure that Blaine is following behind.
They dump their bags in the front hall and kick off shoes, no need to worry about being caught home during the school day as his dad and Carole are in DC for the week. They climb up the stairs in silence and Kurt patiently waits until Blaine is in his room, closing the door softly and moving sedately to sit next to his boyfriend on the bed, his actions in direct contrast to the screaming curiosity inside of him.
When they are settled, cross-legged with their knees pressing together, hands joined and resting between them, Kurt just arches an eyebrow and waits. Blaine doesn’t make him wait long; later Kurt will wonder if there was anything he could have done to make the wait longer.
“So,” Blaine says, takes a deep breath like he’s organizing his own thoughts. His eyes are still bright with excitement but his features are schooled into a more somber expression. “There are two things I want to talk about, but before we do I want you to remember that I love you, so so much, and I really think all of this is going to be the best for us as an us in the end, even if it doesn’t sound like it, okay?”
“Okay,” Kurt agrees but his voice is already shaky, betraying the resurgence of dread in his gut. He feels like he’s about to start crying and Blaine hasn’t even said anything yet.
“Good,” Blaine says and smiles at him, that perfect Blaine smile that says everything is good, safe. It is the smile of reassurance, promise and love. It is Kurt’s favorite smile. It won’t be by this evening.
“I got pulled out of class today, because my dad called into the office,” Blaine begins and Kurt feels some of the dread sink away. If whatever this is has to do with Blaine’s family he can handle it, they’ve done so before and obviously no one is sick or dead or Blaine wouldn’t be near bouncing with excitement.
“You know how I’ve been looking at music camps around Ohio to go to for the summer?” Blaine continues.
Kurt nods, they’d both spent weeks printing out applications and looking at websites to try and find a place Blaine could spend a few weeks this summer. He’d not wanted to go back to theme park work, but after all the worry over Kurt’s NYADA application this year Blaine had thought it would probably be good to have some other sort of musical experience to put on his own application the next year.
They’d sent in his applications to a lot of places, but the one Blaine really wanted was in Columbus. It had the best reputation and was still close enough to Lima that he and Kurt wouldn’t be separated for the whole three weeks the camp lasted.
All of this runs through his mind and now Kurt is smiling too, because Blaine must have gotten in and that is wonderful news for them both.
“You got in to the Ohio State program in Columbus didn’t you?” he squeals, though the excitement dies when Blaine starts to shake his head immediately.
“No- or well, I don’t know I haven’t heard from them yet,” he corrects, “It’s better than that Kurt, I got into the program at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.”
He looks at Kurt with a huge grin, eyes wide with hope and excitement, waiting for Kurt to join in. Kurt is still trying to think, is flashing back to the website for the Conservatory that they’d looked at briefly. It was for a 10-week program, June 15th thru August 24th. He hadn’t even known that Blaine applied.
When he answers Blaine his voice sounds quiet, but that might just be because there is a roaring sound in his ears that he can’t seem to shake.
“That’s…wow,” he settles on, his mind still spinning and the words ‘California’ and ‘ten weeks’ and ‘the whole summer’ running in a loop. “Wow Blaine.”
“I know right?!” Blaine is so clearly excited, and Kurt wonders if maybe Blaine hasn’t come to the obvious conclusions yet. Because surely he wouldn’t be this happy if he’d realized that this meant he was leaving in a few weeks for the entire summer?
“It’s super competitive, and I wasn’t even going to apply,” Blaine is continuing, “Well you remember, we looked at the website together – but my dad talked me into it, said it would look good on college applications next year if I got in. I never expected to actually be accepted though!”
The roaring has dulled to a soft crackle, and Kurt is starting to feel his extremities again as the shock wears off and some of Blaine’s excitement seeps in. He chastises himself internally for thinking selfishly first instead of just being happy for Blaine – it is so clear this is a huge thing for him. And Kurt knows that feeling, the way you want to scream and dance and laugh, because it’s what he felt when he got his NYADA acceptance letter. Blaine hadn’t dampened that moment for him, and he won’t do it to Blaine either.
“That’s amazing Blaine,” he says with more conviction this time, letting his own face break into a huge grin and clutching his boyfriend’s hand more tightly, “You’re amazing.”
Blaine is beaming at him and Kurt can’t help but lean in to kiss him. Blaine returns the kiss, and it’s eager and a little sloppy because Blaine can’t stop grinning, but it’s also familiar and reassuring and everything Kurt loves. He gives a final nip to Blaine’s bottom lip and then pulls back with a smile of his own.
“We have to go shopping this weekend,” he declares, “We only have five weeks until you leave and you’re going to need an entirely new wardrobe if you don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb in San Francisco.”
He’s already planning stores to hit, constructing outfits, and factoring in sales that he knows are coming up, so he misses the way Blaine’s smile dims just a bit and some of the light leaves his amber eyes.
“I hate to say it, but I think you might actually be able to pull off the bohemian hipster look,” Kurt muses, visions of plaid, artfully ripped jeans, and beanies running through his mind, “As long as you don’t get used to it, because once you’re in New York with me I’m not going to let you get away with flip flops in November.”
“Kurt,” Blaine says.
“It might help get you over your bowtie addiction though, I mean you know I appreciate a good bowtie as much as the next guy-“
“But really you have such lovely collarbones. it’s a shame you keep them covered up with button-up shirts done all the way to the neckline all the time-“
It is this last ‘Kurt’, spoken so very softly, which pulls him from his thoughts and back to his bedroom. Back to Blaine who is now staring at him with gentle eyes that look as if they are trying to let him down easy. He can’t seem to breathe, certainly has lost all the words that were tripping off his tongue just moments ago, but he doesn’t need to say anymore because Blaine is already speaking.
“There’s one more part to it all,” Blaine says, and Kurt swallows heavily. Waits for the other shoe to drop. “I don’t want you to think this is a decision I came to lightly, because I’ve been thinking about this for a while now. The Conservatory program might actually make this easier than anything, give us the distance to not fall back into habits.”
“Habits?” Kurt asks, feeling strung out with tension for what feels like the hundredth time since Blaine stopped him in the hallway. He’s not sure he can take much more of these yo-yoing emotions. “What habits?”
“The habits of being together,” Blaine says, and his voice is laced with regret and apology, but underneath it is firm which is the worst part of all because it means whatever it is Blaine’s talking about is something he’s already decided. No matter what Kurt says now, nothing is going to change his mind.
“But we are together,” Kurt says voice high and confused; god he hopes he’s confused, hopes this isn’t what it sounds like.
“We are,” Blaine confirms; then adds, “But I think come summer time we shouldn’t be.”
Kurt’s hopes start tumbling down around him.
The world goes absolutely still.
Kurt isn’t sure how much time passes, because he’s pretty sure time has stopped. He has frozen in this moment (it is one of those moments), the second right before understanding and heartbreak, the second when he can still almost believe that he has somehow misunderstood.
The world crashes back into motion and the moment has passed.
“You’re breaking up with me?” Kurt asks, hates that his voice is soft and shaky, hates that tears are burning at the back of his eyes. Mostly he hates how confused he still feels, because this was never supposed to happen. He hasn’t had time to prepare for this.
“No,” Blaine says, and Kurt’s heart gets a few more beats in before Blaine stops it again by adding, “I mean yes, but just for a while.”
“That doesn’t make any sense,” Kurt says. He sounds frantic, he knows he does, but it doesn’t make any sense and he’s starting to wonder if he’s having a heart attack what with all the stopping and starting the poor thing keeps doing. They are hereditary after all.
“I-okay let me explain,” Blaine says, hands still clinging to Kurt’s almost desperately. His thumb is stroking over the back of Kurt’s hand in what Kurt is pretty sure is supposed to be a soothing gesture, but all it feels like is a distraction.
“Explaining would be good.” The first tear has broken free and is already rolling down his cheek. He can’t pull his hands away from Blaine’s though, not even to wipe it away. Blaine reaches up to do it for him, which hurts in a way it never has before.
“It isn’t that I don’t love you,” Blaine begins, as if somehow those words will soften the blow to come, “If anything it’s because I love you, and I want us to last Kurt, I do.”
Kurt nods along, this part he does know. It’s the ‘but’ he’s sure is coming that he’s not sure he can bear.
“But,” Blaine says, “I think that next year is going to be really hard. I know we’ve talked about it, and looked at when you’ll have school breaks and how often we think one of us can get away for a quick weekend trip. But it’s going to be different, and it’s going to be hard, and more than anything Kurt I don’t want us to end up ending badly. I’m so afraid that we’re going to try and if it fails we’re going to wind up hating each other.”
“I still don’t understand,” Kurt insists, “We can talk more about New York if you’re worried, but I don’t understand what that has to do with this summer.”
Blaine takes a deep breath, squeezes Kurt’s hands once more, and continues.
“I think we should take a break this summer, while I’m in California,” he says, and ignores the way Kurt is already frantically shaking his head. “We take the summer apart, we don’t talk or hang out, and we give ourselves a chance to think – to figure out what it’s like to be apart. Then at the end of the summer, when I’m back, we’ll have almost two weeks before you have to be in New York and we can reevaluate. If we can survive the summer and still want to be together, then I think we can survive next year. But if we can’t- if we decide we were better off apart – then at least you can leave for New York and we’ll still be friends. If we plan it like this it won’t end messy at least.”
“I don’t want it to end at all,” Kurt whispers. He is vaguely aware of the fact that he is crying in earnest now, can feel the damp heat of tears on his cheeks, can taste the salt on his lips. None of that matters though, not if Blaine is talking about them ending.
“Oh Kurt, I don’t either,” Blaine says, “That’s why I want to do this, because it’s going to give us a better chance in the long run don’t you see?”
Kurt is shaking his head again, a movement that feels nearly violent but he can’t stop. “No,” he says, “What I see is you wanting to go off to San Francisco single and free.”
Blaine looks offended at that, his sympathetic gaze hardening just a little.
“That’s not fair Kurt, that isn’t what this is about. You know me, you know I wouldn’t do that.”
“Do I?” Kurt asks, hates that they’re starting to fight when all he wants to do is throw himself at Blaine and beg him to stay. “Because the Blaine I knew wouldn’t be breaking my heart.”
Blaine’s eyes fill with guilt and anguish and he tears them from Kurt’s, staring instead at the bedspread as his own eyes fill. Even though Kurt hates himself for it, wants desperately to hold on to the anger and feeling of being wronged, he can’t help but reach out for Blaine to offer comfort. Because nothing hurts like watching Blaine cry, not even having his heart broken.
“I’m sorry,” he says gathering Blaine against him. His boyfriend (god, are they even still boyfriends?) goes willingly, practically crawls into Kurt’s lap and burrows his face against Kurt’s neck. “I’m sorry,” Kurt repeats, “I didn’t mean it that way. I know you love me.”
“I do,” Blaine insists, still tucked in tight and voice muffled from where his lips are pressed against Kurt’s skin, “I love you so much, and I’m only trying to give us our best shot at forever.”
“I know,” Kurt soothes, even though he doesn’t. Even though he can’t reconcile the idea of breaking up with forever in his mind. But he does know Blaine, at least he thinks he still does, and Blaine wouldn’t hurt him needlessly. He has to believe that.
He just holds Blaine for awhile then, sitting quietly with the boy he loves more than anything curled into him, both of them silent and clutching at each other as if they are waiting for the world to end. It doesn’t end, but eventually they move again anyway.
Blaine pulls back and turns his own tear-stained face up to look at Kurt. “I don’t want us to end badly, if we have to end,” he says, voice sounding small and young and scared. Kurt hates it, but he agrees with Blaine about that much at least.
“Okay,” he says. He doesn’t know exactly what he’s saying okay to, but if Blaine wants it then it doesn’t matter because the answer will always be okay.
Blaine smiles tentatively at him then, so maybe it was the right answer.
“We were going to be apart anyway,” Blaine reasons, voice sounding firmer and more like himself again, “This will just be like a trial run in a way, and when I come back in August we can pick up right where we left off.”
“Okay,” Kurt says again, feels the word repeating like a broken record in his head. Okay okay okay.
“We’ll both be so busy we probably won’t even have time to miss each other,” Blaine is continuing.
Somewhere in Kurt’s head there is the sound of hysterical laughter, a voice shrieking that he misses Blaine between third and fourth period, there’s no way he’s going to just not notice a whole two and a half months going by. Blaine is still talking, running through all the reasons this is a smart idea, how mature they’re being and how everyone will have to support them next year if they survive this. Kurt is half listening, trying to ignore the fact that Blaine is saying ‘if’ instead of ‘when’.
Eventually he breaks in though, can’t wait any more to ask, “So, are we broken up then?”
He needs to know this before he can go about processing and compartmentalizing, can’t get through even one more minute of discussion with this boy in front of him that he no longer knows if he is dating.
“No,” Blaine says immediately, “Not unless you want to be. I was thinking we’d wait until after graduation, there’s no reason we can’t enjoy these last few weeks together.”
Kurt thinks he and Blaine have very different interpretations of the word ‘enjoy’, but he can barely articulate one thought at a time right now, so he’s not about to start arguing semantics.
“But we are breaking up then, right?” Kurt asks instead, because in this moment he needs an exacting kind of clarification. Nothing feels clear anymore, but this at least he has to know exactly. He needs to know the expiration date on KurtandBlaine.
“Yes,” Blaine says softly, voice gentle and soothing again as if Kurt needs to be calmed. Maybe he does, he can’t really tell.
“My plane leaves on the 13th,” Blaine says.
He already has a ticket, Kurt realizes. His dad probably bought it for him before he even called to tell Blaine the news. Somehow that makes it all so much more real.
“So the 13th?”
Blaine nods. “I was thinking maybe we could just agree that when my plane takes off, we’ll both consider ourselves single. That way we don’t have to waste any of our remaining minutes with a break-up talk.”
Kurt wants to nitpick Blaine’s word choice again, wants to tell him he must mean they won’t waste any more of their minutes on a break-up talk, because clearly they’re using time on one now. He doesn’t though. There are so few minutes left as it is.
“Okay,” he says once more. For an irrational moment he thinks it may be all he’s ever capable of saying again, which would be ironic because it is pretty much the opposite of how he feels. “Okay.”
Blaine smiles at him then, a little shyly as if he wasn’t sure that he’d be allowed to smile again at Kurt after all of this. Kurt thinks he smiles back, but his face still feels a bit numb so he can’t be sure.
“It’s going to work out for the best,” Blaine repeats firmly. Kurt clings to those words and the sure tone they are spoken in, wills himself to believe them as strongly as Blaine seems to.
He stops himself from ‘okay-ing’ again, settles for just nodding, and it seems to be enough for Blaine.
“Well then,” Blaine says, and his eyes are twinkling once more, his mouth turned up in a mischievous little grin, “I think we have a few hours until Finn gets home. However shall we use them?”
Kurt stares at him, feeling bewildered and slightly off-balance at the abrupt topic change, but Blaine is already pushing in for a kiss. It’s as if the past 20 minutes haven’t been real, as if it is any other day when they are sneaking time to be intimate between the comings and goings of the household. Kurt feels adrift in his emotions, unable to anchor himself to any one feeling.
But it is easy to kiss Blaine back, easy to shift and slide down until they are laying on the bed. It is instinct that has him holding Blaine’s hips, turning and rolling them until he has his boyfriend beneath him. He noses against Blaine’s jaw on autopilot, hands roaming in well-practiced paths over the body below him. Blaine is already moaning and arching up against him, and Kurt responds in kind, but his heart isn’t in it. It is floating with his mind somewhere outside where the world is still moving as if nothing has changed. He is untethered, not yet able to process his own terrifying aloneness in this new world.
Blaine may be right against his skin, but he has never felt further away.
Three weeks later, on June 13th, Kurt Hummel is sitting in the Lima Bean, an untouched mocha sitting on the little round table in front of him as he stares at the clock on the wall behind the counter.
Graduation had been a week ago. There were parties and celebrations, tears and laughter, promises to stay in touch and meaningful goodbyes. He and Blaine spent the past seven days nearly attached at the hip, never far from each other, as if by merely being close they could slow time and the coming of the inevitable.
They’d explained their decision to everyone at one of the graduation parties (it had been called ‘their’ decision in every discussion since that first one. Kurt isn’t sure how he ended up with part ownership in something he never wanted in the first place).
Burt had looked at Kurt searchingly, as if he couldn’t quite believe what he was hearing, and oh Kurt wanted to scream ‘I don’t understand it either! Please, someone, explain to me why this is happening’. He hadn’t though, had just plastered a smile on his face to match Blaine’s, and his father had muttered an acknowledgement and tried to be supportive.
Their friends had taken the news with a mixture of shock, support and boredom (the last was from Santana, but Kurt could never read her emotions too well so maybe she cared more than she let on).
Rachel had told them they were ‘being very mature about the whole thing. You know not everyone can be as committed as Finn and I are, and it’s good that you’re taking some time to reevaluate your choices as we all step into the future as adults and-‘ (this is where Kurt cut her off).
Puck nearly cried, which was surprising but also weirdly made Kurt feel better about wanting to cry himself. When Puck pulled him into a bone-crushing hug and practically sobbed ‘I thought you guys were forever man’ into his shoulder Kurt had to bite his lip to keep from sobbing back ‘Me too.’
Brittany had been confused, and the rest of them had been eerily silent – especially given that they were rarely silent in large numbers – and just looked between the two of them as if unsure how they were expected to respond.
It had all been good enough for Blaine though, who’d smiled at them and then at Kurt, as if everything was going to plan. Kurt really wished he had an outline of that plan so that he could look ahead and find out when this was supposed to stop hurting so much.
Last night, their final night together, had been filled with kisses and touches, whispered words and promises that no longer felt as reassuring as they once did. They’d moved together with gentle thrusts and quiet moans, and when Kurt came he pressed his face into the pillow below him and let it soak up his tears.
He’d been allowed to stay the night, despite Mr. Anderson’s disapproving looks, and he’d spent every minute until dawn just watching Blaine sleep beside him, trying to soak up every tiny detail and lock it away in his mind.
Blaine’s flight was an early one so they’d been up not long after sunrise, dressing hurriedly and gathering all the last minute odds and ends Blaine would need for the next ten weeks. Kurt wasn’t making the drive to the airport with them, so they’d ended up saying their goodbyes on the Anderson’s front porch, trading kisses and tears while Mr. Anderson honked impatiently from the driveway.
“Ten weeks and I’ll be back,” Blaine had said, “I’ll come back to you.”
Kurt had smiled at the promise, even as his heart ached, because Blaine had been looking at him with big, sincere eyes and anyway the time for argument was long since passed.
“Okay,” Kurt said, and it reminded him of that day in his bedroom when it was the only response he could give to his world shattering.
“I love you,” Blaine had whispered against his lips, kissed him softly one last time.
“I love you too,” Kurt replied, and then Blaine was pulling away.
He’d looked back over his shoulder at Kurt as he climbed into the front passenger seat, waved through the window with suspiciously bright eyes as they backed out and drove away. Kurt waved back and swallowed the broken noise trying to claw its way out of him. His throat felt raw with unshed tears but he just kept waving and smiling, waited until the car had disappeared. He’d moved to his own car as if in a trance, gotten in and fastened his seatbelt, turned the ignition. Pulled around the corner and parked in front of a random house. Only then had he let everything go, crying and screaming until he was hollowed out and empty.
He’d driven to the Lima Bean then, and that is where he now sits. His clothes still smell like Blaine, his lips still taste like Blaine, everything is still Blaine Blaine Blaine and there is nothing he can do about it. So he just sits, staring at the clock as the minutes tick by, ignoring the coffee in front of him. Waiting.
It is 10:00.
It is 10:15.
It is 10:30.
It is 10:33.
The minute hand moves one more tick, it is 10:34 am on a Wednesday morning in June, and Blaine’s plane has just taken off from Columbus International.
Kurt Hummel is now officially single.
He lets out the breath he’s been holding, releasing it steady and deliberate so as not to break the fragile state of not-feeling he has created for himself. He takes one small, measured sip of his now-cold mocha. Places it back on the table in slow, exacting motions. Looks up at the clock. One more tick. He has survived the first minute.
It is strange how tiny packages of time, mere moments, can hold within them the pause before enormous change.
He takes one more sip from his cup, sets it down, breathes in and out.
Another minute passes. This is the last moment before his world will begin to change.
The clock ticks over one more time and two things happen simultaneously. Kurt looks up to see Sebastian Smythe walk through the coffee shop doors, and his phone begins to ring.
Link to Chapter 1
Additional Author's Notes:
Bonus Song: Maybe by Ingrid Michaelson http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKU3UuJhIxU
This has always been a Klaine song to me, ever since we found out Blaine’s junior status. In Klaine fic and Klaine shipping I find it sadly hopeful. I think it still fits the moment here, even if those feelings will obviously change as Kurtbastian comes into play ;)
Next chapter we get into the actual prompt and story properly, more soon :)