This is the story of the boy who could not feel, and the boy who felt too much.
“Oh my god this is perfect!” Rachel grinned, leaning against the rough brick of the empty apartment space.
Kurt nodded, “And no more sex-crazed roomie for you.”
Rachel rolled her eyes with disgust, “There should actually be a law against it. As if I didn’t feel crappy enough about Finn, I then get landed with the freshman who not only has made it her mission to sleep through the entire student body of NYADA, but who also has the worst sense projection control.”
“How are things with you and Finn?” Kurt prompted, taking a few photos on his phone to send to his dad and Blaine later. Although for now he’d probably leave out the Bushwick part to his dad…
Rachel shrugged, “I don’t know. Okay, I guess. I just miss him, you know? Who knew long distance relationships could be so complicated. Lima’s a long way from New York, and now he’s trying so hard with his teacher training that I don’t want to be a distraction.”
“You? A distraction?” Kurt gasped, hand on heart.
Rachel shoved at his shoulder, “Shut up.”
Kurt smiled at his friend, secretly relishing the casual touch. Rachel had changed a lot during their senior year, and the summer that followed. All the glee kids had. While the events of junior year had wrought the most change on Kurt and Blaine at the centre of it all, the attitudes, actions and promises of their friends during that time had created friendships for life, and had changed the way Kurt viewed his friends forever.
When Rachel had taken those first few terrifying steps to New York by herself, it had been lonely for her. Her third week meltdown had been something to behold. Blaine had essentially shoved Kurt on a plane to New York for a week so that he could get some peace and quiet from Finn’s worried projections, who at that point was ‘giving Rachel the space she needed’.
Kurt loved his brother but honestly he could be really useless sometimes.
The week had turned out to be a blessing. Not only was Kurt able to mellow the Rachel Berry Drama Crisis Extravaganza, but he was able to check out Parsons, explore New York with his friend, and in the end, make plans to live together when he made his own way to the city in a few months.
And now he was here. And he still couldn’t believe it. Leaving Blaine back in Lima had been horrible, but the feelings of pride and love his boyfriend sent him away with made it just that slightly less painful. And besides, Blaine had (of course) got a call to come up to Julliard for his finalist interview next month, so Kurt wouldn’t have to wait too long to see him again.
That didn’t stop him from worrying, though.
“So, shall we take it?” Rachel prompted, grinning at Kurt with so much life and happiness.
“Are you kidding? I need space to store my wardrobe collection, and that is not happening on this kind of rent in Manhattan. We’re taking it,” Kurt said.
Rachel squealed, her heels echoing in the space.
“Why the hell am I hearing from Brittany’s twitter that McKinley is holding a Sadie Hawkins dance?” Kurt screeched as soon as his Skype connection with Blaine kicked in.
Blaine’s eyebrows rose and he leaned back a little from the screen, “Woah, Kurt! Hi, nice to see your face too. Great that you guys have got your internet working at last. Hope your class orientation today went well.”
Kurt winced at Blaine’s acerbic tone, rubbing his face with his hand, “Sorry, sorry, I just…”
Blaine sighed, a sad smile tugging at his lips, “I know. It’s exactly why I didn’t want to tell you. This is your first week at Parsons, Kurt, you need to be throwing yourself into your new college life, not worrying about me at a stupid school dance.”
Kurt hugged his laptop closer on his lap, “I’m your boyfriend, I’m allowed to worry. And it’s not just a stupid dance…”
“Well as your boyfriend, I’m allowed to want you to enjoy yourself in your fabulous New York experience,” Blaine returned, although his eyes shone gratefully as he said it. “But, if it makes you feel any better, I’m doing okay about the whole thing. Sam and I are organising it as part of our senior class presidency, and… he’s asked me to go with him! He… he knows about the other time.”
The knot in Kurt’s stomach loosened slightly, and once again he was so grateful for how good friends Sam and Blaine were to each other. And the tentative happiness in Blaine’s face was so wonderful that Kurt couldn’t help but tease, “Blaine Anderson, I can’t believe you would throw me aside so lightly.”
Blaine shrugged casually, “Yeah, well, I always had a thing for blonds…”
Kurt snorted, but continued, “But seriously, you know you can call me anytime?”
“Of course,” Blaine smiled. “Now, are you going to tell me about your first day or am I going to have to call Rachel?”
Blaine’s leg jittered as he watched New York City slowly come into view through the train window, his nerves shot. His parents had put him on the train back in Ohio, after a long conversation that ended with the decision that Blaine travelling by himself out of state for the first time shouldn’t be in an enclosed plane.
Honestly, his parents had wanted to come with him, but Blaine had been determined to do this himself. If he was moving to New York in the fall, he needed to be independent, and that meant seeing New York as an adult. Besides, Cooper and Kurt would be waiting for him as soon as he reached Penn Station. He was going to spend an entire weekend in New York, and then on Monday and Tuesday he would be at Julliard for his interviews.
He couldn’t wait to fall into Kurt’s arms.
His phone buzzed with a message from Cooper, Your boyfriend doesn’t have any nails left. Save him from himself.
Blaine grinned, typing back, Please restrain him. Train only 5 mins away see you soon!!!
A man walked through the carriage, his tired boredom scratching away Blaine’s excitement, and Blaine’s smile dropped as his squeezed his phone far too tightly. Breathe, breathe. Nearly there.
Blaine waited until most of the other passengers had alighted ahead of him, and carefully climbed off the train, his steps stuttering as he headed for the escalators up to the main station concourse. He kept a white knuckled grip on his bag, arms tucked closely to his body as he tried to skirt through the crowd.
God, so many people, so many… Chicago hadn’t been this much, had it? Of course, in Chicago, Kurt had been a constant presence.
He barely realised when he stopped walking, and he was definitely breathing too fast. There was just so much. And it all pressed down, suffocating him as he stood there trying and failing to summon the shadow of the calm he usually managed to maintain at school and he couldn’t do this. He really couldn’t he was going to fail how could he have been so stupid-
But then the pressure released as a body impacted his, warm, solid and sure, familiar arms wrapping tight around him and pulling him away from the tidal waves that sucked around him. His shoulders slumped, and he wrapped shaking arms around Kurt’s back, letting himself just exist in the moment, breathing in Kurt’s scent.
A hand cupped the back of his head, bright brushstrokes of pride blotted slightly with tinges of blue worry. Blaine pulled back in Kurt’s arms, looking up at his brother, “Hey.”
Cooper shook his head, “Way to give us both a heart attack, squirt.”
Blaine tightened his arms around Kurt, with every passing moment feeling more like himself. “Sorry, long journey.”
Kurt surrounded Blaine with love and a complete sense of safety, not bothering with preamble as his gaze ran over his boyfriend critically, “I think we should probably stay holding hands for the rest of the day… I don’t want to see you float away like that again.”
Blaine smiled, trying to make light of it, “Well, that won’t be hard. I’ve missed you.”
Kurt still didn’t look convinced that Blaine was okay, but Cooper rolled with it as he always did, “Well, I know you’re staying with Kurt this weekend, but before you get settled I know the best pizza place in the West Village, so how about I treat you guys to some lunch? You haven’t lived until you’ve had New York pizza.”
Kurt squeezed his hand, infusing Blaine with confidence. Blaine’s eyes remained fixed on the closed door. “You don’t have to wait with me…”
Kurt sighed, shifting closer to Blaine, drawing their clasped hands into his lap. Blaine had been saying the same thing all morning, despite having already been granted special dispensation to have Kurt wait with him before his interview. He didn’t want to be a bother…
His boyfriend had refused to listen to Blaine, stating that under no circumstances was Blaine going to go to his interview, let alone on the subway, by himself. Kurt wasn’t going to be allowed in, of course, but Julliard had been made aware of Blaine’s unique situation early on in the application process. If he was accepted, they had even agreed that he would be allowed to live out of dorms, something freshmen weren’t normally allowed to do.
If he was accepted… “Stop it,” Kurt murmured fondly as Blaine’s nerves danced between them, “Just be yourself. You know those two scores off by heart. They’re a piece of you. Talking about how and why you wrote them with a bunch of other music geeks for an hour is going to be a cake walk. And I will be waiting right outside the whole time. I told you, I don’t have classes on Mondays.”
“Music geeks,” Blaine repeated flatly. “Kurt, the people in there are some of the most musically savvy and talented in the world!”
“And they will love you,” Kurt cut Blaine off before he could start panicking himself, and Blaine sighed, leaning into his boyfriend’s touch to soak up Kurt’s belief.
Their weekend had been so amazing, as Kurt showed Blaine the lights of New York, his hand a constant within Blaine’s. Blaine had nearly let go of all his interview nerves as he just enjoyed being back with Kurt, in a city he had never thought he would see, let alone possibly live in.
The door opened with a rasping creak, and another prospective student hurried out, their emotions scattered with a stress that didn’t quite take root in Blaine, Kurt still squeezing his hand and keeping him stable.
“Blaine Anderson,” a sharp, professional voice floated through the open door, notes of discordant intrigue and curiosity to meet the next candidate threading neatly into the call.
Blaine took a steadying breath, and Kurt dropped a good luck kiss on his cheek in a burst of confidence, “Knock them dead.”
Kurt wasn’t sure what was worse. Was it the way the crowds parted like the red sea when he walked down a crowded sidewalk? Was it the bordering on fearful looks that came from classmates taken by surprise? Or perhaps was it the knowing look of his lecturers, those who remembered him from that sensational news story nearly two years ago?
You would think a lifetime of school hallways in Ohio would have prepared him for the feeling of complete freakishness, but the horrible realisation still hooked in the back of his throat.
He hadn’t told Blaine, however many times Rachel and Santana encouraged him to. There was really no point worrying him, and besides, what was he supposed to say? At this point, the idea of moving to New York, of finally grasping the possibility of a future that didn’t involve drugs and a slow descent into sense control deterioration… it was the most important dream Blaine had.
Rachel and Santana tried to help as much as they could, both describing how out of place they had felt when they first arrived in the city. And they made an effort to reach out, little touches, here and there. While Kurt had never thought he would see the day, he had really started to rely on Santana, despite his reservations when she moved herself in soon after Blaine’s audition at Julliard.
Not only were they good at keeping each other distracted, Santana was also better than Rachel at being around Kurt, her control over her Sensitivity honed from her relationship with Brittany. Often she would just flop down on the sofa next to Kurt, watching junk TV with snide comments, her elbow grazing his.
And as the loneliness and stress of people being generally sucky began to get to Kurt more and more, the girls kept him sane.
New York City was supposed to be the city of dreams. The city where anyone could fit in and be accepted…
“Do I need to call Rachel? Because seriously if you’re about to get weepy on me, I’m tagging out,” Santana cut into his thoughts, her voice surprisingly gentle for words so apparently uncaring. It was late, and they were hanging out after Santana’s long shift at the Spotlight Diner while Kurt listlessly scrolled through eBay with the vague hope of finding inspiration and potential bargains.
Kurt shook himself, “No, no I’m fine. Just thinking.”
“Don’t exhaust yourself.” When Kurt didn’t bite back, Santana sighed, “They’re just jealous, you know.”
Kurt blinked, taken aback by the random comment, “What? Who are?”
“All those assholes in your classes. I mean, sure, the general New York crowds and tourists, they’re just being ignorant and think you’re a freak, but who gives a crap about them? You never have before and, bonus, you’re way less likely to be followed home by the crazies on our block. The ones at your gay runway school though? They’re just massively intimidated, and it’s made even worse by how they have no freaking clue what’s going on behind your fashionably forward layering choices. I should know, I’ve been there,” Santana shrugged.
Kurt stared at his friend’s blunt delivery. “I’m sorry, let me get this straight. Are you telling me that Santana Lopez, the self-professed Lima Heights head bitch of McKinley, used to be jealous and intimidated by me?”
“Don’t go on about it,” Santana sniped, folding her arms defensively. “I mean, I don’t know why you’re surprised. You were easily one of New Directions’ strongest members, and that was all without the obnoxious projecting that Rachel used to do before she became more controlled. And no one knew what you were thinking. You were the only person in that hellhole who wasn’t drowning in teen angst and had a completely put together life.”
Kurt laughed incredulously, “I did not have anything together.”
“Well, sure I know that now. No one sane would have pulled what you pulled with Blaine at Dalton. But before that, you just seemed to know exactly what you were doing, and not only that you were good at it. So sure, I was jealous,” Santana smiled in a rare moment of heartfelt honesty.
“I don’t know what to say…” Kurt said quietly, eyes searching his friend’s face.
Santana rolled her eyes, nudging his thigh with her foot, “Don’t get sappy on me, Hummel. Just promise me that when you’ve kicked all those ignorants to the curb and are running some ridiculous fashion house years from now, that you’ll give me all the freebies.”
Kurt smiled, “Deal.”
With the first, his breath was stolen.
With the second, his muscles seized.
Gunshots don’t sound like they do on TV. They sound fake. Because why would there be a gun?
If it hadn’t been for Sam, he probably wouldn’t have moved. He would have just sat there.
Blaine had never felt anything like it.
Crowd projection was something he had grown used to, and with Kurt’s help even learnt to acknowledge while still keeping his sense of self.
But that was at Show Choir competitions, where everyone is having fun. That was in cities, where there were loads of people but the impact was diffused by everyone experiencing different thoughts and feelings.
This time… there is something entirely alien and invasive when a whole school full of hundreds of students and teachers is shocked through with utter, heart stopping panic. It crashed over him, wave upon wave upon wave, building and building and feeding in a crescendo of terror that hit Blaine with such a force that he hadn’t had a hope, because he was already feeling the exact same thing.
His feet tangled and stumbled, Sam’s hand scrunched tight in the scruff of Blaine’s shirt as he dragged him across the room. Someone had moved the piano, gotten Artie out of his chair. Someone had turned off the lights, locked the doors, someone knew what to do.
Blaine’s legs folded, the world skipping as he squeezed his eyes shut, curling into a ball as if making himself smaller might stop the onslaught of hysteria.
Tick, tock, tick, tock.
The metronome picked a steady rhythm, echoing. Blaine grasped onto the sound like a lifeline, desperately trying to block out everything else.
He wished Kurt was here, but was also overwhelmingly grateful that his boyfriend wasn’t anywhere near this nightmare.
Blaine tried to pull his phone from his pocket, but his hands were shaking too badly. He dropped it with the sound of an explosion.
“Brittany’s not here,” Sam’s voice croaked, harsh in the quiet, punching a desolate hole in Blaine’s chest. “And I haven’t seen Tina since lunch.”
Blaine’s body jerked involuntarily, a violent spasm of primal fight or flight rushing through him as lone footsteps pounded in the hall, shaking at the door handle to the choir room. He desperately wanted to unstick his tongue, plead for someone to let the terrified student in.
He was starting to feel lightheaded, a blurring static building at the base of his skull. If someone touched him now, he would be lost. He curled tighter.
Sam’s restlessness crawled like ants under his skin, and Blaine really needed his friend to get away from him now, but he couldn’t form the words to beg.
A scream that wasn’t his own bubbled in Blaine’s throat, and he bit down hard on his tongue, clapping both hands over his mouth in a desperate attempt to keep quiet, to keep it together. He desperately tried to picture Kurt’s ocean of calm and silence and safety, but it was so far out of his grasp, trickling away.
Sam was on his feet, Sam was yelling, Sam was struggling and crying and petrified and lost, wrapped in the arms of Mr Schue. Their paired terror mingled, teacher and student locked together, and Blaine felt Sam fall off the edge.
Tick, tick, tock.
“Blaine?” It was Artie. Blaine couldn’t raise his head, he had to keep in the scream. His stomach muscles contracted, dry heaves seizing his body, tears burning his eyes. “Coach Beiste, Blaine, he’s…”
Somewhere, floating, far away in the part of his mind that was still his own, Blaine found a bitter irony that after all he had been through, after all he and Kurt had overcome, this is what was going to be the thing to-
Something sharp stabbed into Blaine’s upper arm, a flooding pressure, and somehow Blaine raised his head enough to see Coach Beiste kneeling in front of him, her eyes a horrible mix of fear, guilt and determination.
Tick, tock… tock…
Blaine’s hands fell away from his mouth, his muscles loosened, and he slipped sideways into a beckoning darkness.
Blaine awoke lying on his side in a dimly lit room, in an all too familiar hospital bed. But this time, there was a warm body at his back. There were arms solid around his waist, and it was quiet.
Soft lips pressed a kiss to the nape of his neck, and a voice murmured into his skin, “I’m here, you’re okay.”
Blaine’s body folded, hands clawing at Kurt’s arms, wrecked sobs taking over his exhausted body as he was finally able to experience his own shock and terror without the weight of everyone else’s suffocating him.
Kurt just held him.
When Blaine had cried himself out, Kurt gently filled in the gaps. The shooting had been an accident, no one was hurt by the gun, but in the confusion twenty eight students including Blaine, Sam and Brittany had been hospitalised with empathic shock. The only reason Blaine hadn’t spiralled completely into a full episode was because Coach Beiste had used Blaine’s emergency injector pen to knock him out. It had been a condition insisted on by Dr Nordstrom once Kurt had left for New York, and despite Blaine’s ample protests at the time, he found himself eternally grateful.
Kurt told Blaine about how he had got the call from Blaine’s mom while the school was still in lockdown, and how it had been the worst moment of his life. The Andersons had paid for Kurt’s plane ticket, and he’d been on the next flight to Ohio. He’d come straight to the hospital.
Once Kurt was there, the doctors had agreed it would be safe to let Blaine wake up under controlled conditions.
Kurt stroked his thumb over the back of Blaine’s hand, “I promised I’d hit the call button when you woke up. Are you ready?”
Blaine swallowed tightly, “Mom and Dad?”
“They’re just outside,” Kurt reassured.
“Thank you for being here with me,” Blaine mumbled. “I know you have classes.”
Kurt’s arms tightened around Blaine, a breathy laugh brushed Blaine’s neck with a tickle of fond exasperation, “There is nowhere I would rather be, Blaine. Do you think you can sit up?”
Blaine nodded, letting Kurt help his watery limbs move into an upright position as Kurt pressed the call button.
Nearly immediately, Dr Monroe opened the door, her expression professional but stricken. Her shoulders relaxed slightly as she quickly assessed Blaine with her eyes, but Blaine could already see a lot of needles and blood samples in his future before she was going to let him go anywhere.
And behind her… Blaine’s throat closed, and he found his hands shaking all over again as soon as he saw his parents.
Blaine squeezed Kurt’s hands, focussing to take comfort in the silence for a moment longer, shoring up his senses. Kurt didn’t need him to ask, offering Blaine his strength freely before letting go.
He had barely swung his legs off the bed before his mom wrapped him in her arms, her relief and love crackling warmly between them. Blaine clung on just as tightly, finally letting go of the last remnants of lingering animosity he had been holding against her, as he let his mother simply hold him. And then his dad’s large arms encompassed them both, infusing Blaine with a complete feeling of safety, a powerful wind swirling around him with a desperate relief and need to protect.
And Blaine was finally able to breathe again.
Blaine would never forget the terror of that afternoon. He would have nightmares, Sam would jump at the sound of a locker slamming, Brittany wouldn’t go to the bathroom without another Glee member, and Tina stuck to her friends like glue for the next few weeks.
But that didn’t mean they would let it define them. They had futures to live, and they’d be damned if they would be stopped. So when Kurt went tearily back to New York that weekend, Blaine was able to smile, knowing it wouldn’t be long before he followed his boyfriend to the future he was determined to have.
“Dude, he loves you, you love him, and that’s great and all but we really need to get on the bus now or we’re gonna miss our own Regionals.” Sam’s sandy blond head poked into the tiny screen, not quite touching Blaine but still comfortably encroaching on his best friend’s personal space.
Blaine scrunched his nose and rolled his eyes, “Alright, alright, I’ll be there in a second! Help Brittany find her shoe.”
Kurt raised an eyebrow at his boyfriend’s pixelated face as Sam disappeared again, “What happened to Brittany’s shoe?”
“Long story,” Blaine said exasperatedly, the screen skipping as he juggled his phone to his other hand. “But he’s right, I have to go…”
Kurt pouted, “I just wish I could be there with you guys.” It would be the first time he had missed a New Directions competition since he had joined in his sophomore year. Before today he had either been on stage or watched from the wings as he had done for this season’s Sectionals.
“I know,” Blaine said softly, and Kurt would never get sick of that smile. “But we agreed you can’t miss anymore school for me, and you’ve got your summer design piece to finish.”
“Blaine Anderson, get your cute butt on this bus now!”
Blaine winced, and Kurt laughed, “Say hi to Tina for me. Text me as soon as you’ve performed, and good luck!”
“I will, love you!” Blaine nodded, practically glowing with excitement.
“Love you too,” Kurt replied, letting Blaine end the video call, exhaling as he slumped down further into their couch.
Not only would this be the first competition he’d have ever missed, it would also be the first one since Blaine had joined the New Directions as a performer that Kurt wouldn’t be anywhere nearby. Sure, Blaine’s parents would be there, and however horrific Kurt’s reasons for going back to Ohio in April had been, it had given them a chance to refocus Blaine and settle his worn senses. But Kurt couldn’t help but worry.
He cast his gaze listlessly to the half finished dress coat draped over his tailor’s mannequin. He really should work on it, but knew he’d only make mistakes and get frustrated as his thoughts drifted to Blaine performing without him.
“Okay, I am literally getting blotchy with all these pathetic vibes you’re giving off,” Santana snapped, her heels clicking on their hard wood floors as she moved directly into Kurt’s line of sight, hands on hips.
Kurt glared up at her, unimpressed, “I don’t project, Santana.”
“With those sad eyes, you totally don’t need to,” Rachel sing-songed from the kitchen.
“Since when did you two start ganging up on me?” Kurt demanded, throwing his hands up.
“Since your grandpa act started bringing me out in hives,” Santana said, and Kurt was immediately ready to bolt because he had seen that look in her eyes before and it never boded well. “Get up, we’re going out.”
“You don’t even know what my plan is yet!”
“I don’t need to know, Santana. I went to high school with you, and now I live with you. I’ve learnt self-preservation.”
“Come on Kurt…” Rachel dangled herself over the back of the couch, “Let us distract you? You’ve been working so hard on your project, and when you’ve not been worrying about school, you’ve been worrying about Blaine. We’re in New York. Let’s have some fun!”
“I thought you had your Funny Girl audition to prepare for?” Kurt asked, but he felt a smile creeping onto his face.
“And what better way to do that than a day in Manhattan with my two favourite New Yorkers?” Rachel grinned.
Kurt hated it when the girls won. Even more when he had to begrudgingly admit that they ended up dragging him on one of the best days he’d had since he moved to the city.
And it got even better with the all-caps text he received from Blaine while he, Santana and Rachel were fighting over pastries in Chelsea Market.
WE WON!!! NATIONALS HERE WE COME! :D LOVE YOU XXX
This then turned their great day into a long distance evening celebration, with Rachel insisting they get dressed up and head to the favourite NYADA haunt, Callbacks.
It was so nice just to let loose and enjoy the moment, and he may not have been drinking but somehow he still found the giddy courage to get up on the stage with Rachel and Santana to sing a kick-ass version of Hairspray’s You Can’t Stop The Beat, throwing back to their senior year when they had performed it in the McKinley Auditorium with all their friends.
He wished they’d asked someone to film it so they could have sent it to everyone.
As cheers and applause followed their performance, and Rachel was distracted by a couple of her NYADA friends, Kurt went to the bar to grab them all another round of drinks.
“That was incredible.”
Kurt turned to the compliment, smiling at the guy leaning casually on the bar, “Thanks! My roommate, the ridiculously short one? She’s a freshman at NYADA.”
The guy’s smile widened, eyes sparkling, his every movement exuding confidence, “Yeah, she was good, but you’re the one with the killer hips and melting voice. I’m Liam, junior at NYADA.”
Kurt choked on air, staring at the guy in utter disbelief. It took his brain a good minute to compute that he was being hit on by a hot – if rather arrogant – guy. Despite everything, he couldn’t help but feel warm and flattered. Even though he was completely not interested, it was still pretty awesome to be noticed. His manners pushed a response, “I’m Kurt, freshman fashion design major at Parsons. And thanks for your compliment, but I have a boyfriend.”
He went to pick up the drinks, but stopped when Liam rested a hand on his wrist, not quite holding him back but equally enough to stop Kurt from pulling away. And Liam wasn’t flinching at Kurt’s low ES.
“Oh yeah? And where is this elusive boyfriend of yours?” Suddenly Liam was a lot closer than he had been before, and Kurt’s heart thumped wildly in his chest. “Let me guess: innocent high school romance, brush of the fingertips, working on the long distance? Same story everywhere, babe.”
Kurt ground his teeth, but kept his tone measured. “You don’t know me, or my boyfriend. Please let go of me. I’m going back to my friends now.”
Liam scoffed, clearly not used to being rebuffed, leaning so close that his lips were dangerously close to Kurt’s ear. “Come on, do you really want to miss out on all this? Someone like you can’t get many offers, and trust me when I say I could give you the night of your life.”
That was the final straw to kick Kurt into action, and he shoved Liam back. Hard. “What the hell do you mean, someone like me?” A few people were staring, and Santana and Rachel had finally noticed his predicament, but Kurt was seeing red. “So what, you think you get points because you’re willing to screw guys a bit lower on the scale? Think we’re desperate for your charity? Get over yourself, because not in your wildest dreams could you get me to scream like my boyfriend can.”
Liam seemed stunned into silence, his face reddening as he realised a good few NYADA students were watching them. Kurt felt Santana sidle up to his elbow, slipping her hand to subtly rest against his back as he stood there, breathing hard. “Wanky. You heard him ass hat, what are you even still doing here?”
Liam scowled, his mouth thin as he sneered at them, “Whatever.”
The crowd parted to let him go, and nearly immediately the bar’s buzz returned, Kurt’s altercation barely a blip on their usual night out drama. His shoulders slumped, adrenaline still tense within him.
Rachel joined them, her face worried, “You okay?”
Kurt shook himself, “I think I want to punch a wall, but I’m good. That guy was just… urgh. Sorry if I embarrassed you in front of your NYADA friends, Rachel.”
Rachel scoffed, “Are you kidding? These people live for drama. Though, I’ll be honest, I could have done without the extra detail on your and Blaine’s sex life.”
Kurt’s face flushed beetroot red, and Santana made an exaggerated gagging noise, “Yeah, remind me to buy earplugs before he moves here. I’m not dealing with that.”
“I hate you both,” Kurt deadpanned, but he let himself be pulled back to their seats with a smile, refusing to let one asshole guy ruin his brilliant day. He pulled out his phone as Rachel took to the stage once more for a solo.
Love you so much :) Can’t wait for our Skype date tomorrow. Want to hear all about regionals. And tell you about my day with the girls! Xxx
Love you too! Though do I want to know why Santana just sent me a text to remind me your loft doesn’t have sound proofing? Xxx
I’m going to kill her. As my boyfriend it’s your job to help me hide the body.
“I think you’ve officially wiped the Lima Bean out of vanilla syrup,” Wes said with a grin, setting Blaine’s coffee in front of him as he sat down.
Blaine rolled his eyes, enjoying his friend’s fascinated disgust as he took a sip. He had missed this. Despite Blaine’s less that pleasant time at Dalton, and his determination to never set foot near the place again, Wes had become one of Blaine’s closest friends. Throughout Blaine’s junior year, while Wes was finishing off his preparation year at Dalton, they had met up frequently. Sometimes David and Nick came along too, even Jeff on his good days. He had never been as high up the scale as Blaine, and was allowed to leave campus as long as he was with Nick. And even if Blaine felt guilty for what he had with Kurt whenever he saw Jeff, his friend was quick to remind him that he was simply happy Kurt had been there for Blaine when he had.
Besides, if it hadn’t been for Blaine, there would have been no way that Dalton would have enrolled in what was promising to be an incredibly successful sense therapy trial, spearheaded by Dr Nordstrom as part of his tenure in Columbus.
Dalton was a lot more pet friendly nowadays.
“You just wish you had my metabolism,” Blaine grinned cheekily, and Wes shook his head with a smile, his precise conduction of humour, fondness, and contentment carefully flowing around Blaine’s senses. Wes had always been good at controlling his emotions without turning himself into the unreadable quiet of most sense professionals, but now he was brilliant at it. “So…”
Wes raised an eyebrow at Blaine, “So?”
“Are you going to tell me about Cornell or not?” Blaine exclaimed, knowing Wes was enjoying stringing him along.
Wes had just got back from the end of his freshman year at Cornell University, having finally begun his long medical school journey to reach his goal to specialise in Empathic Sensitivity. Blaine had been able to see his friend briefly at Christmas, but Wes hadn’t been back since as the university put its new students through a gruelling first year of training.
Wes gave up his pretence, a crescendo of achievement and excitement accompanying his reply, “It’s amazing, Blaine. I mean – don’t get me wrong – parts of it are hell on earth, and I didn’t even know it was possible to be that tired, but… I’m finally on my way, you know? And everyone in my class is great. Well, there’s this one guy who I’m like 90% sure is sleeping with our neurology professor, but…”
Blaine nearly spat out his coffee at Wes’ blasé delivery, asking in wonderment, “Aren’t you in a school full of baby sense doctors? How does he think he’ll get away with something like that?”
“Sheer faith and determination?” Wes offered.
“Anyone you sleeping with?” Blaine asked slyly, enjoying the brief forte of blind panic, incredulity and exasperation from Wes before he regained control.
“What is it with you and David?” Wes moaned, “I remember a time when me simply mentioning Kurt would make you blush so red you looked like you’d stayed out in the sun too long, and now you’re coming out with stuff like that? Where is the justice? You’re supposed to be an innocent high school student!”
Blaine simply smirked, enjoying seeing his usually composed friend so flustered.
“Fine. Her name is Teresa, she’s from Massachusetts, I met her in my second week of classes, and I’m spending a week this summer staying with her on an official meet the parents visit. And that’s all you’re getting from me,” Wes folded his arms stubbornly, but there was a warmth in his voice that made Blaine smile. “Maybe if you’re nice, I’ll bring her with me on one of my visits to you in New York.”
Blaine’s smile dropped, but he still said sincerely, “I’m really happy for you, Wes.”
Wes frowned, a diminuendo of concern dampening their playful conversation. He asked softly, “Still no news from Julliard?”
Blaine shrugged, “Letters went out late last week. Kurt keeps reminding me what I was telling him when he was waiting for his Parsons letter.”
“No news is good news?” Wes said wryly.
Blaine groaned, “I’m surprised he didn’t lock me in a closet to get me to shut up. It’s officially the worst saying ever. Can we talk about something else?”
Wes looked like he was going to say something, but instead let it slide, and the two friends spent the next couple of hours catching up on everything, from the upcoming Nationals competition and Blaine’s graduation, to Kurt’s imminent return home for the summer and the latest news from their friends still at Dalton.
They were kicked out at closing, and Wes drove Blaine home with a promise to wrangle the other Dalton guys for a proper reunion that weekend.
“I’m home- argh, Molly!” Blaine tripped over his own feet and cat in a tangle as he came in the front door, catching himself on the sideboard. Molly was unapologetic, as usual, so Blaine dumped his bag on the floor and scooped her up for a cuddle. Her purring rumbled into Blaine’s chest, and despite how far he had come in the last two years, he still relished her ability to wash away the complexities of the outside world and calm his tired senses.
When Kurt had left for New York, Blaine had relied heavily on his parents, Molly, and his friends. Throughout Kurt’s senior year, and for the beginning of Blaine’s, the boys had worked incredibly hard to get to a place where Blaine could keep himself stable and together without the need of Kurt’s immediate touch. It had been difficult and often demoralising, but Blaine had been proud to watch his boyfriend leave for New York knowing everything that they had achieved. Of course there were still bad days, and sometimes the idea of following Kurt to New York downright terrified Blaine, but he was determined to have the future he dreamed of, ES 4.8 be damned.
“Good time with Wes?” His dad came into the hallway, followed by his mom, and they were both just standing there being really weird, giving off a strange anticipation.
Blaine frowned, “Yeah, it was great to see him and catch up. What’s going on?”
Molly twitched and wriggled in Blaine’s arms, shifting herself to sit half over Blaine’s shoulder, and then he noticed the envelope in his mom’s hands.
“This came for you,” Mom smiled, unable to contain sparks of excitement as she held out a sealed envelope, carefully stamped with Julliard’s crest.
Blaine stared at the envelope in her hand, and now that it had arrived, he suddenly didn’t want to open it. Molly had other ideas, clambered up his shirt to balance precariously on his shoulders, freeing up his hands.
“Open it Blaine,” Dad prompted softly. “Whatever it says, the fact remains that you defied the odds, went to New York City, and had an audition with one of the top music schools in the country. And we are so, so proud of you.”
Shakily, Blaine took the envelope, carefully tearing it open and removing the neatly folded paper. He took a breath, part of him wondering if he should be doing this somewhere more auspicious than his hallway.
Congratulations! It gives me tremendous pleasure to inform you-
Blaine’s heart stopped, “I got in… Oh my god, I got in!”
Molly leapt to the floor just in time as his dad rushed forwards and crushed Blaine into his arms with a shout and burst of pride. His mom was crying, but she was also laughing, sweeping Blaine up the moment his dad released him, her emotions all over the place as she sparked with shock, pride, and overwhelming hope for the future she never thought her youngest son would have.
Blaine wasn’t sure if he was cry laughing because he felt like it or because of his parents, but just this once he didn’t care to try and work it out.
The summer was Kurt’s favourite time of year.
This was a new development of course. If you had asked him when he was five, you would have got every kid’s answer – Christmas, duh. And if you’d asked him when he was a round-faced freshman in high school, he would had to have said the fall, because who didn’t enjoy a season that offered the perfect balance of fashionable layers without making you look like an overstuffed marshmallow?
Before, summer had simply meant being at constant risk of sunburn, always feeling sweaty and gross, and helping out at his dad’s shop once in a while.
But now, summer meant being able to come back to Lima for a couple of weeks. Summer meant Blaine. And summer meant having Kurt’s house to themselves during the day without the constant paranoia of parents that had plagued them for the long months at the beginning of Blaine’s senior year.
So sure, he still felt sweaty and gross, but now? Not only did he have a healthy new appreciation for it, he was also starting to think that layers were considerably overrated.
A meagre breeze twitched the curtains, pulled mostly closed over the open window. Baking afternoon sun filled the room with a deep red filtered against the curtain fabric, and Kurt stretched languidly, kicking his feet free of the rumpled sheet.
Kurt shifted onto his side, leaning back into a pillow as he propped himself up on his elbow. Blaine sighed softly, but didn’t wake from where he dozed. His beautiful boyfriend was sprawled out naked on his stomach, head resting on his arms, sheet draped almost artfully across the back of his thighs.
Gently, Kurt began delicately tracing the line of Blaine’s spine with a fingertip, never getting bored of their little reality where this was what they got to have.
Stars shivered at Kurt’s feather-light touch, and Blaine made a noise in his throat before mumbling pathetically, “It’s too hot.”
Kurt arched an eyebrow, “That wasn’t what you were saying an hour ago. I seem to recall I was the voice of reason, but you were too horny to listen.”
“And now we’re all gross and I don’t want to move but we have to because otherwise in a few hours I’ll never be able to look your dad in the face again… Why didn’t you make me listen?” Blaine blinked adorably up at Kurt, exaggeratedly pouting. He rolled slightly onto his side, reaching to rest his palm loosely against Kurt’s chest, fingertips lightly stroking Kurt’s overheated skin.
Kurt laughed, moving his hand up to tangle into Blaine’s curls, still sticky with the remnant of that morning’s hair gel, “Because however excited I am for you to join me in New York, while we’re in Lima I’m going to take advantage of our freedom as much as possible, without worrying about unpredictable roommates who lack boundaries.”
Blaine gasped, “Kurt Hummel, I can’t believe you would so brazenly admit to taking advantage of me! The big city has changed you.”
Leaning down to steal an unhurried kiss, Kurt smiled against Blaine’s lips, their bodies pliant in the afternoon heat, sinuous strands of leisurely want and arousal flickering between them. “Don’t worry. I’ve still got a thing for my small town sweetheart.”
Kurt let his lips trace down the column of Blaine’s throat, part of him still marvelling at how comfortable they both could be with each other, as his boyfriend sighed staccato, too-warm hands finding purchase in sparks against Kurt’s skin.
Kurt let his forehead drop to Blaine’s shoulder with a soft groan, “You’re right. It’s too hot.”
Blaine whined, actually whined. His boyfriend was ridiculous. “Seriously, Kurt?”
“Seriously. I need a shower – there is only so much of this heat I can take.” Kurt pulled back to drink in Blaine’s expression, eyes hazed and emotions strung out. Impulsively, Kurt nipped at Blaine’s shoulder as he moved to get up, before looking back at his boyfriend expectantly. “Well? Are you going to join me?”
Summer was definitely Kurt’s favourite time of year.
“Okay, how is this door acceptable security? Seriously, are you guys paying Santana to be your live-in bodyguard or something, because that’s literally the only explanation I have right now.”
Blaine looked up from where he lay across the sofa, Molly curled up heavy on his chest. Molly’s ear twitched, and she let out a disgruntled meow at Cooper, who was still examining the industrial door critically. Cooper turned around, raising an eyebrow at the picture that Blaine and Molly presented. “Wow. Hello to you too, princess. Blaine, your cat needs an attitude adjustment. I thought Dad said she’d been cool with the move last week?”
This was the first time Cooper had been able to make it round to the Bushwick apartment since Blaine had moved in with Kurt and Santana a week ago, just before the start of Julliard orientation at the end of the month.
After some discussion, and following the drama of Santana’s fleeting casting as Rachel’s understudy in Funny Girl, Rachel had moved into a small place not far away in Bed-Stuy. Sam would be moving in with her next week when he came up to New York to start pursuing his dream of male modelling, with Artie following shortly after to start film school. And while Rachel and Santana’s friendship still felt a little bit like walking on broken glass, it was getting better, and everyone seemed to be settling into the idea of the new extended New York living arrangement.
Blaine let his head fall back on the sofa cushion, fingers still buried in Molly’s fur as he tried to settle the tight knot of anxiety that seemed to have taken up permanent residence in his stomach since he’d moved to New York.
Thursday had been Mom and Dad.
Friday had been Kurt.
Saturday and Sunday had been Kurt and Santana.
Monday had been Rachel.
Today was Cooper.
Blaine wanted to scream.
He sat up, holding Molly in his arms for a moment longer, pressing his nose into her soft fur before putting her down. “Molly’s fine. Let me just get my bag.”
A dark splodge of confusion and worry marred the bright canvas, and Blaine could feel his brother’s eyes on him. “Hey, what’s going on? Everything okay? Do you want to skip?”
Blaine gritted his teeth, keeping his back to his brother as he tried to keep himself contained. Because in the back of his mind, he knew he should be grateful, grateful that he had been able to make it this far. What gave him the right to want more, when so many other people like him didn’t have that luxury?
Of course he didn’t want to skip. He wanted to go to class like a regular freshman. He wanted to make a good impression on his supervisor, he wanted to get lost on the subway on his way home, he wanted to go to get coffee with the bubbly girl he’d met in Music Theory yesterday, and god he just wanted for once to be able to shake hands with one of the many new people he was introducing himself to.
But he couldn’t say any of that. Not to Cooper, not to his parents, and definitely not to Kurt. Everyone had sacrificed so much to help Blaine get to where he was now, and he refused to throw that back in their faces. Logically, he knew the schedule was for his own good. He understood that he couldn’t be allowed to wander out into Manhattan by himself, and he knew that he should be incredibly grateful that the people in his life cared so much to make sure he got to class with his sanity intact.
He just had to ignore how it made him feel like inconvenient baggage being passed from one set of hands to another. The feeling would pass, he would get over it, he wouldn’t let this get to him.
The feeling of being trapped, of suffocating, of the walls closing in-
Blaine plastered a smile on his face, and focused on the positive. Today was his first Composition Lab, and he was determined to enjoy it. He brought those emotions to the surface, using the techniques he had been practicing for two years with Kurt and his doctors to push away the darker undertones.
“Don’t be over-dramatic Coop, I’m fine. Come on, let’s go!”
Blaine managed to keep up his determined state of forced positivity until Friday night.
He wasn’t even sure what had been the final tipping point. Maybe the late summer storm had cast a mood over the apartment. Maybe with Santana working a shift and not there to balance them out, things had escalated further than they would have. Maybe their combined exhaustion from the first week of classes had hit Kurt and Blaine harder than they had expected.
“If you’d told me you didn’t like chickpeas, I would have used something different so they didn’t go to waste,” Kurt said.
It was such an innocent comment, and honestly, Blaine knew Kurt hadn’t meant anything by it. But that hadn’t stopped his mouth, “Well I didn’t ask you to cook for me.”
Kurt’s eyes snapped up, and Blaine felt the sucking receding of Kurt as his boyfriend reined in any stray emotions that might cloud the situation. Blaine hated that Kurt had that ability, when Blaine had no such luxury. At least Kurt wasn’t touching him right now, so he couldn’t feel the poison festering under Blaine’s skin. “I’m sorry, what’s that supposed to mean?”
Blaine slumped back in his chair, dropping his fork onto his plate with a clatter, appetite gone, “Nothing.”
Kurt’s mouth was set in a thin line, his eyes dark and unreadable, “It’s clearly not, or you wouldn’t have said anything.”
Blaine shrugged, fully aware that he was bordering on petulant, but not having the energy to care anymore. “Maybe I thought I’d be moving in with my boyfriend, not just another parent!”
“What are you talking about?” Kurt snapped, his voice rising to match Blaine’s.
“You seriously don’t see it? You’ve cooked for me every night this week-”
“I enjoy cooking-”
“You’re constantly asking me how my classes are going, if I’m okay, are you okay, how are you feeling-”
“Well I’m sorry for caring!”
“Had any meltdowns on the subway yet, Blaine, hey Blaine I’ve arranged with Santana to babysit you while I’m out, no you don’t need to buy groceries Blaine, we’ll go in an hour when I’m free, I don’t want you walking round the goddamn block by yourself-”
“Bushwick isn’t Lima! And you make me sound like some sort of jailer!”
“Aren’t you?” Blaine screamed, dimly aware that he was on his feet, and Kurt was too.
Kurt had frozen in place, and he honestly looked like Blaine had slapped him. “Blaine…”
Blaine couldn’t breathe, he didn’t want to find out what Kurt was feeling, he was too busy drowning in his own anxiety as the weight of the last week pressed down on him and he just needed to get away.
He was nearly at the door when a wave of utter terror and panic hit him so hard that Blaine stumbled, catching himself on the back of the door before he fell. The wave withdrew nearly immediately, and because it was Kurt’s, nothing was left behind in Blaine besides a strange hollow feeling.
Kurt gasped, “Oh god, Blaine, I’m so sorry!”
Blaine didn’t turn, stomach twisting as he began to regret his anger-fuelled words. Finally he spoke into the leaden silence, “I’m fine. You know you can’t hurt me like that. You just took me by surprise.”
Kurt’s footsteps came tentatively closer behind him, but not close enough to touch. “I know this is probably the last thing you want to hear, but you know you can’t go outside right now, not when you’re this upset,” Kurt said quietly. “I think we need to talk, but if you want some space, I can go stay round Rachel’s tonight if you like?”
“I’m so stupid…” Blaine muttered bitterly, spitting out the words that had been a lump in his throat since he had arrived in New York.
“What?” Kurt asked, his voice so calm and patient that it only made Blaine feel even worse.
Blaine finally turned, leaning back against the metal of the door, sliding down to sit on the floor. Kurt crouched in front of him, keeping them eye level but still not touching.
And then it all came spilling out.
“I thought I could do this, I actually started to believe I was getting better. When you left, and I stayed in Lima, I was okay. It was hard, but I was doing more than coping and it was like… I was a real teenager. But since I got here, it’s like all the progress I made has been wiped out in a week, and I’m back to square one – a complete train wreck who can’t be left alone for five minutes without being at risk of a full meltdown…” Blaine buried his fingers in his hair, uncaring of the gel, propping his elbows on his knees as he tried not to cry. “I just… I want to be normal. I don’t want to be the reason you can’t go out with your friends after class, I don’t want Cooper to let his understudy perform on Tuesdays, I don’t want Santana to take Thursday graveyard shifts so she’s free on Friday mornings. I just want one day where I can be a college freshman without this thing hanging over me.”
Finally, he looked back up at his boyfriend. Kurt was kneeling with a devastated look on his face, silent tears staining his cheeks, and Blaine’s heart broke even more. Why did he always do this to them? Why was he always the cause of their pain?
“Can I sit with you?” Kurt asked softly. Blaine nodded, throat too tight as Kurt scooted over to settle next to Blaine against the door. There was a brief hesitation, but then Kurt wrapped his arm around Blaine’s shoulders and pulled him into his side. Blaine felt his muscles relax with the touch as a quiet, sorrowful love ebbed between them. “I’m sorry you’ve been dealing with this all week. I wish you’d felt like you could talk to me sooner.”
“I just want this to work so badly,” Blaine mumbled. “I’m so sorry I said those things to you, Kurt, I didn’t mean them, I just…”
“You felt trapped, and I was the closest target when it all came bursting out,” Kurt finished for him. “It’s okay to feel overwhelmed Blaine. Do you think I didn’t freak out when I first moved here? And you know all about Rachel’s meltdown. It’s normal. Okay, sure, you’ve got a lot more to deal with than the average freshman, but you’ve overcome a lot worse. You just need to adjust, and that’s what we’re all here for – our friends, your brother, and me. But you need to talk to us, please don’t keep it all bottled up.”
Blaine felt a wry tickle of fondness from Kurt, and he couldn’t help but smile weakly, “Baby steps?”
“Baby steps,” Kurt confirmed, taking Blaine’s hand softly to press a warm kiss to his knuckles.
DEFCON 1 THIS IS NOT A DRILL!!!!
Kurt stared at his phone for a good few minutes, resisting the urge to pinch the bridge of his nose. Sometimes, he was convinced that only Blaine was able to decipher the mystery that was Sam Evans’ brain.
But then Artie sent a message to their group New York chat.
ABORT SAVE YOURSELF
And Tina, who okay wasn’t actually in New York but had been added to the chat group because the younger boys had been missing her, sent:
Shortly followed by a recipe for chicken broth.
And, seriously, now Kurt was getting the feeling he was missing something important.
He tapped out a quick message as he walked to the subway, too drained from a long day of prep design work to deal with the bizarre antics of his friends.
Are you all high? What are you talking about?!
Santana filled him in.
Sam is freaking out because your boyfriend mentioned he’s starting to get a sore throat. Who knew trouty was such a germophobe?
Rachel popped into the chat.
Sam you’d better make sure to wash your hands as soon as you get home, I’m not getting sick this close to opening night!
Sam ignored Rachel in favour of replying to Santana.
YOU WEREN’T THERE SANTANA, YOU DON’T KNOW
…You guys are aware that I’m in this group too, right? Blaine finally weighed into the chat.
Kurt sighed, finally catching up to Sam's melodrama. He dropped his phone into his bag as he went underground to start his journey home, already making a mental list of a few things he’d need to pick up from the drugstore.
Colds and flu were typical experiences for any college student moving to a new town, entering a festering pot of germs and bacteria. It was practically a freshman rite of passage.
Except, Kurt could really do with Blaine missing out on that, and if that meant buying his boyfriend as much preventive cold medicine as possible, that was precisely what he was going to do.
Not long into Blaine’s senior year, he had picked up a nasty cold. His parents had pulled him out of school after barely one day, but that had been ample time for absolute bedlam to break out in the choir room and McKinley. Kurt had moved into the Anderson’s home for a week, much to the relief of Blaine’s mom. It had actually been a blessing in disguise, as it had given Kurt time to bond with Emily Anderson following their rocky start earlier that year.
But that didn’t mean Kurt wanted to repeat the experience.
Unfortunately, by the time he got home it was clear that the inevitable was coming.
“Hello?” Kurt called as he slid the door closed behind him, immediately seeing Santana sitting at the kitchen table. She looked incredibly pale, her mouth pressed in a thin line as she rubbed at her temples. “Wow, Santana. You look like crap.”
“Sam left as soon as he sent the first message,” she said shortly. “Blaine’s in your room.”
Kurt nodded sympathetically, “Don’t take this the wrong way Santana, but you might want to stay with Rachel, Sam and Artie until this blows over.”
Santana shook her head incredulously, “This is ridiculous. He’s barely sniffling, but I feel nervous and woozy, and he’s starting to worry that it’s not just a cold, because then he’ll have to go to hospital, and god I can’t think straight and it’s like I’m sick but I’m not sick and who the hell projects this bad?”
“Blaine does,” Kurt shrugged, already resigning himself to damage control as he dumped his purchases on the table. “Have you seen Molly?”
“Hiding in my laundry basket last I saw her, I don’t think she’s feeling that hot either,” Santana groaned, resting her head in her arms.
Kurt sighed. Yep, Blaine was sick. It was the only time Molly avoided him. He was tempted to ask Santana to take the cat with her, but knew Molly wouldn’t allow it, however uncomfortable Blaine’s projection got for her. “Okay, get up, pack a bag. Even if Rachel kicks up a fuss, Sam and Artie will force her to respect the quarantine. They’ve dealt with this before.”
“What about you?”
“I’ll be fine, he doesn’t affect me like he does everyone else. On the bright side, at least this’ll keep our crazy neighbours away.”
Leaving Santana to her sluggish packing, Kurt walked over to the curtained off ‘bedroom’ that he shared with Blaine. His boyfriend was sitting fully clothed in bed reading one of his course books, making notes. He looked up when Kurt came in, smiling wanly as he greeted Kurt, “Santana fill you in?”
Blaine already sounded slightly too nasally. He was definitely on his way to a lovely little head cold.
Kurt nodded, sitting down on the bed, “She didn’t have to – I just took one look at her. You’re already starting to project.”
Blaine groaned dramatically, head thudding back against the wall, “I don’t even feel that bad. I could easily go to classes.”
“That’s what you said last time,” Kurt pointed out, struggling to keep a straight face. “Want me to make some tea? And I’ve got some extra strength cold medicine. I know how you feel about drugs, but maybe if we let that knock you out for a few days you’ll be able to get back to class by Thursday.”
Blaine grimaced, and Kurt could already tell his boyfriend was resigned to a week of quarantine.
Kurt was jerked out of sleep by a bolt of alien fear, followed quickly by a solid kick to his shin, and only just moved his hand up to block a flailing arm before Blaine hit him square in the face. Immediately, Kurt scrambled to sit up, “Blaine! Blaine wake up!”
Blaine struggled in the tangle of sheets, and Kurt somehow managed to get a hold around Blaine’s middle, pinning his arms. Blaine was mumbling, caught in sleep, too lost to wake up. Focusing, Kurt pulled Blaine closer to him. Calm, quiet, silence, calm, quiet, silence…
Slowly, Blaine struggles ceased as he began to relax in Kurt’s arms, and he felt his boyfriend start to wake up. “K’rt? What time ‘s it?”
Blaine’s voice was scratchy, and he sounded exhausted. Kurt rubbed his hands up and down Blaine’s arms, soothing, “A little past 2am. You have a nightmare?”
As well as losing control on his emotional projections, Blaine was also more vulnerable to other people when he was sick, particularly when asleep. Normally the dubious neighbours and nightlife of Bushwick didn’t even register on Blaine’s senses, but at the moment he was raw and over-sensitive.
“People are loud…” Blaine complained miserably.
Kurt smiled fondly, brushing a sweaty curl away from Blaine’s forehead. “I know, honey. Do you think you can get back to sleep?”
Blaine coughed, but let Kurt pull him back to lie back down, snuggling into Kurt’s arms. The whole while, Kurt kept a careful focus on keeping Blaine in their little ocean of calm and quiet. It seemed to sooth Blaine, and definitely helped calm Kurt after his adrenaline-fuelled wakeup call.
“Thanks for loving me even when I’m disgusting and sick…” Blaine mumbled against Kurt’s chest.
Kurt laughed softly, “Always.”
Blaine turned towards the voice, already recognising the fond exasperation before he saw who had arrived. “Wes! You’re early!”
Wes nodded, surveying the clothes explosion that was Blaine and Kurt’s bedroom with a look of mild terror, “Your brother let me in. Now I think I understand why he’s hiding in the kitchen… Blaine, what are you doing?”
Blaine blushed, embarrassed. “It’s not as bad as it looks…”
Wesley’s eyebrows nearly disappeared into his hairline, “Please at least tell me that all this is yours. Because I know Kurt loves you, but if any of these piles contain his clothes he will murder you, and I’m not going to protect you.”
Blaine groaned, sitting down forlornly on the bed, “I need help.”
“We already knew that!” Cooper’s voice hollered from beyond the curtain, a drift of amusement following the shout.
“Love you too Coop!” Blaine yelled back, before looking beseechingly at his friend. If anyone could help solve this, it was Wes. He sighed, “I just want it to be perfect…”
Wes smiled, shucking off his designer jacket and draping it carefully over the back of a chair. “Kurt will just be thrilled that you came. You could turn up butt naked and he’d still be ecstatic. Hey, maybe that’s an idea?” Wes teased, flutes of humour tickling at Blaine, making him smile.
“Wes!” Blaine whined, “Be serious! Please. There are already so many things that are probably going to go wrong, and I just want this one thing to be okay! Kurt’s going to be surrounded by all these important people, and the last thing he needs is his boyfriend to turn up looking like some backwater trash from Ohio who lacks any sense of style!”
Wes walked forwards, carefully sitting next to Blaine. As ever, his simple, quiet presence was a balm against Blaine’s senses, although unlike when they had been at Dalton, Wes now leaned his shoulder carefully to brush Blaine’s. Wes’ sense control was refined enough that his touch was now very much like that of Blaine’s family, and it was something Blaine’s truly valued about their friendship.
“Blaine,” Wes said. “Are you sure this is about the outfit? I just want to check, because if you’re in any way not one hundred percent sure about this, then we don’t have to go. Kurt thinks you’re not coming anyway, so he won’t be disappointed, and the last thing he’d want is for you to make yourself sick.”
Blaine fidgeted. Cooper had asked exactly the same thing when he arrived a couple of hours ago, and at the time Blaine had brushed him off. He needed to do this.
Tonight was the Parsons Fall Fashion Showcase, and Kurt had been the only freshman to have had his work selected to feature on the runway. It was a huge deal, and Blaine was so unbelievably proud of his boyfriend. But it also meant that Kurt had been flat out for the last few weeks preparing, and would be backstage for the show itself, with plenty of demand for his full focus. As soon as Kurt had been selected, they had sat down to discuss it, and Blaine had felt awful when they finally agreed that it would be best if Blaine didn’t come.
Kurt had hidden his disappointment well, because he knew it was the right decision, but Blaine had felt like an utter failure and an awful boyfriend. Kurt had reassured him, saying there would be plenty more opportunities, and he would have their friends in the audience to support him. They could even take plenty of pictures to show Blaine later.
But Blaine knew there would only be one first show.
And so he had made a plan. Kurt’s show fell on the one night of the week when Cooper’s play was dark, and Blaine had reached out to Wes to ask him a huge favour. Cooper had been thrilled with the invite, and Wes had actually managed to get the trip signed off as field experience. Blaine had felt really weird about that, but he supposed he should get used to the idea that all Wes’ teachers knew his story. All that remained was for Blaine to give Sam the money to get three extra seats, and the surprise was set.
With Cooper and Wes to support him, Blaine was confident that he could keep control without anything going horrifically wrong.
But there was always going to be a niggling what if, and that was what was sucking Blaine under now. He couldn’t bear the idea of ruining Kurt’s big night because everything got to be too much for his senses.
“This is something I need to do, Wes. Not just for Kurt, but for me as well,” Blaine said honestly.
Wes looked at Blaine for a moment longer, and Blaine knew that if his friend decided Blaine was out of his depth, they wouldn’t be going anywhere tonight however much Blaine protested.
But then Wes nodded, standing up. He placed his hands on his hips, surveying Blaine analytically. “Alright then, let’s work out what to do with you. Can’t have Kurt Hummel’s arm candy looking like he got dressed in the dark.”
Blaine slumped down in his seat, letting out a tense breath. Crowd events like this were always so much harder than just going to class, or even glee competitions. The layers of expectations and relationships mixed with a healthy volume of alcohol, all compacted in an enclosed space of glitz and glamour made Blaine’s head swim.
Cooper had secured Blaine’s shoulders with a comforting arm for the whole subway ride, keeping Blaine tight to his side as Wes stayed close, and that formation hadn’t changed when they arrived. Cooper was now a pretty recognisable stage actor, and used to dealing with these kind of events. He was effervescent and charming, but also polite in declining any attention in favour of keeping Blaine distracted.
Wes sat down on Blaine’s left, squeezing his knee briefly with an infusion of courage, “You’re doing great, you know you are. Stop over-thinking and enjoy yourself for once. Just picture Kurt’s face when he finds out you’re here.”
Blaine nodded tightly, letting himself relax as Rachel and Santana joined them in seats in front, Artie rolling his way to the wheelchair space in front of Wes. Sam was backstage – Kurt had insisted on using him as one of his models for the evening.
Wes was right. He was okay. He was excited, and nervous, and a little overwhelmed, but he felt in control. He felt safe. And most importantly, he couldn’t wait for the show to start.
Cooper turned away from where he had been craning to see if he recognised anyone famous, “Yeah?”
“I just thought, well…not that I want to speak too soon or anything, but this evening seems to be going pretty well so far, and I…” Blaine smiled shyly, suddenly irrationally nervous, “I wondered if maybe next month I could come and see your play?”
Cooper stared at Blaine for a second in surprise, but then his big brother lit up like the sun, infectious excitement and hope blooming between them. “Seriously? You want to?”
Blaine laughed at Cooper’s frenetic mix of emotions, “Of course I want to! I’ve always wanted to see you on a real stage.”
“Okay, yes definitely! I… yes! I’ll sort you a pair for you and Kurt,” Cooper said, practically bouncing.
Music swelled and light flashed, putting a pause on any further conversation, but Blaine enjoyed the feeling of utter happiness exuding from his brother for the whole show.
Of course, Kurt’s pieces were some of the best in show – even Wes and Santana said so – and Sam had been brilliantly confident as he took control of the runway. But the best part by far was when all the designers came out at the end, accompanying their models, and Blaine was able to jump to his feet to cheer and applaud as loudly as possible.
Kurt’s face was priceless.
After the show they were ushered backstage by Sam, and Blaine finally left the safety of Cooper and Wes to sweep up his amazing boyfriend in a hug, before handing him a carefully selected bouquet of flowers, “Congratulations!”
“I can’t believe you came!” Kurt was practically glowing, still on a high from the rush of the show, overwhelmed by how many people had come to support him.
“I couldn’t miss your debut,” Blaine grinned, kissing Kurt soundly.
“Save it for later!” Santana called. “I was promised an after party, and as the self-appointed publicist of this merry band of misfits, Hummel and White Chocolate need to get networking.”
Kurt looked at Blaine uncertainly, but Blaine just hooked his arm into the crook of Kurt’s elbow, “Come on, I want to stand next to you all night and listen to these fancy fashion gurus as fawn over you.”
Kurt sighed softly, leaning back against the counter as he took in the scene in the loft. A football game was on the TV, and the tangle of limbs on the sofa was shouting unintelligibly at the screen, Blaine half clambering over Cooper, as John Anderson and Burt Hummel engaged in a heated debate. Finn’s ridiculously large frame had been ousted to sit on the floor, but he seemed pretty content with his bowl of chips.
Stretched out on warm floorboards, the fourth resident of the loft snoozed in a patch of weak winter sunlight, Molly’s fluffy grey tail twitching every so often when Blaine got too excited, but otherwise oblivious to the chaos around her.
Behind Kurt in the kitchen, Rachel was demonstrating to a patient Carole the best way to present tofurky for a celebration meal, while giving a blow by blow account of her latest Funny Girl reviews. Carole listened patiently as she prepared the main turkey, every so often twisting the conversation to excitedly talk about all the typical New York landmarks she and Burt planned to visit on their trip. Burt, Carole and Finn would be going to see her show tomorrow evening.
Finn had already seen it four times.
While all their other friends had returned to Lima for the holidays, Rachel’s show had meant she needed to stay in New York. Cooper had been in much the same situation. And so in a loft in Bushwick, the very first Anderson-Berry-Hudson-Hummel Thanksgiving had been born.
“Sometimes I think it would be easier if I really tried to like football, but then every Thanksgiving I watch the men in my family descend into this,” Emily Anderson gestured fondly as Cooper bodily lifted Blaine off the sofa and tried to throw him over his shoulder despite Blaine’s squawking, “And I remember why I prefer to leave them to it.”
Kurt grinned, “Dad and I used to have an arrangement on the holidays. We’d watch the game together, which he would recognise meant me sitting on the sofa reading Vogue while he yelled at the TV. It worked pretty well, but then Finn came along, and Carole and I rescued each other.”
“And now Blaine tells me you have an internship at Vogue?” Emily prompted, her eyes warm.
“Vogue Runway, next summer,” Kurt said, unable to keep the pride from his voice. “Apparently if I make a good enough impression, there’s an opportunity to intern for them during New York Fashion Week next fall, but that’s a long way off. I need to get them to like me first.”
Emily laughed, resting a hand on Kurt’s shoulder. She always reminded Kurt of Blaine when she laughed. It was never something he had seen the woman do, back when Kurt had been living in Lima. Then, her eyes were sad, and every smile or laugh had been tainted by a constant exhausted fear. She had been a hard person to get to know, and despite how much Kurt knew Blaine loved his mom, Kurt had always found the woman hard to equate with the warm memory of Kurt’s own mother, or the kind presence of Carole.
Now, Emily Anderson was so much more like her sons; quick to laugh, free with little touches and contact. Blaine once told Kurt that to him, his mother was like fireworks bright against a night sky, and Kurt now understood why. He was honestly glad he had gotten to know this version of Blaine’s mom.
“I really don’t think you’ll have a problem Kurt, if my sons are to be believed,” Emily said kindly. “And there is nothing wrong with looking ahead. I used to think there was, but Blaine introduced me to a very forceful young man who showed me differently.”
Kurt blushed, admitting quietly, “Sometimes I have to pinch myself to prove that this is real. I keep thinking I’m going to wake up in my bedroom in Lima, and Blaine, New York, our life together… it will just have been a dream.”
“An impossible dream that you both deserve,” Emily smiled, her eyes bright, and then Kurt found himself drawn into a warm hug as she whispered, “I will forever be thankful for what you have given my family, and look forward to the day you officially become part of it.”
Kurt blinked rapidly, throat tight as Blaine’s mother hugged him for a moment longer before releasing him.
The moment was broken as Emily’s attention was caught by the antics of her sons, and she proved that she had an impressive set of lungs. “Cooper Jay Anderson, if you break your brother I swear I don’t care how successful an actor you are, I will still find a way to ground you!”
And then Blaine and Cooper toppled into Molly, and all hell broke loose.
It was still the best Thanksgiving Kurt had ever had.
Blaine’s feet were stuck at the bottom of the steps. He couldn’t walk up them. He just…
This was so unreal.
Kurt’s hand was warm in his, the soft skin of his palm snug with Blaine’s despite most people around them bundled up in gloves against the bite of a New York winter.
“We don’t have to go in. We could just find a coffee shop and enjoy our last day in New York before we go back to Lima for Christmas…” Kurt said, and Blaine knew that his boyfriend was as jittery nervous as he was.
“What if everyone stares?” Blaine asked, voicing one of his biggest fears.
“No one even knows we’re going to be here,” Kurt said with false confidence. “To everyone in there, we’re just names and numbers on paper, so unless they’ve got a great memory of a one week news story from a couple of years ago, we’re just going to be two strangers.”
“I hate to break it to you Kurt, but when you walk into a room full of sense professionals, I think they’re going to figure out who you are the moment they don’t sense you,” Blaine said flatly, and an eddy of exasperation flowed from Kurt.
“Alright. Let’s just do this. It’s not like we’re going to stay for the whole thing, but we promised Dr Monroe and Dr Nordstrom that we’d be here for the opening keynote. We’ll just stand at the back.” Kurt nodded with a sense of certainty, and started up the steps that would lead them to the Annual Empathic Sensitivity Medical Symposium. Both Kurt and Blaine had been invited to sit in on the conference. Apparently the research their doctors had been doing had finally reached the point where it was going to be presented to the wider medical community, and there was a lot of excitement.
Blaine was irrationally nervous. Kurt wasn’t much better.
They didn’t deserve the attention. They were just two kids who had been stupidly lucky to find each other, and too stupidly stubborn to let go when they did.
Kurt turned, now two steps above Blaine, still holding on to Blaine’s fingertips, “Are you coming?”
Nearly three years since he had first accidentally brushed those same fingertips, kneeling in the hallway of McKinley High School, and Kurt still never failed to take Blaine’s breath away.
Hair perfectly coiffed, bundled up in a designer coat and stylish scarf, cheeks rosy from the cold, standing there in central Manhattan… Kurt was just as perfect as the pale, graceful teenager Blaine had fallen in love with, the one too big for Lima to contain.
Blaine tugged lightly on Kurt’s fingers, stretching up on his tiptoes to draw Kurt down for a kiss, the extra height between them letting Kurt wrap his arms comfortably over Blaine’s shoulders.
And despite the frozen morning air, the warmth of Kurt infused Blaine, the hustle of New York fading into a quiet where the two boys could simply exist.
Their breath mingled, curling in icy tendrils as they reluctantly broke apart.
“Ready?” Kurt asked.
Blaine nodded, shored up by Kurt, letting his senses stretch out to settle in his boyfriend’s steady presence. He pushed his love to spark softly at Kurt, and felt a wash of warmth and safety in return. “Ready.”
This is the story of the boy who could not feel. Of the boy who was drowning in so many people’s emotions that he was never certain anything he felt was his own.
This is the story of the boy who felt too much. Of the boy who had so much to give, but was left unable to share, too many feelings bottled tight, isolated by something as simple as random biology.
But this is also the story of Blaine and Kurt. It is the story of the stars and the ocean, of the symphony and the silence. Of a refusal to accept fate, and an ability to catch hold of the impossible.
And this is the story of how they lit up the world.