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Headway

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Since he met Blaine, Kurt spent a lot of time googling things. He’s always been curious, and the internet is a wealth of knowledge. Kurt wanted to know more about how to be the best boyfriend he could be to Blaine, knowing that their relationship was anything but conventional. Hell, even his dad had been against it at first. A young man’s first relationship should not be burdened with problems, he’d said. But Kurt didn’t listen, and he’d been blissfully enjoying being in love with his best friend for almost two years now.

Tonight, Kurt was sitting in the makeshift eat-in kitchen of his brand new shiny New York City loft, listening to the arguing of his two reluctant roommates, Rachel and Santana. His laptop was open in front of him as he waited for the browser to load. He sighed, his heart thudding heavily in his chest at the thought of what tomorrow would bring. Then he lifted his head from where it was propped in his palm and began to type into the search box.

how to live with someone that has brain damage

He clicked on the first result without really looking, then scanned an article mostly about how to live when a loved one is in a coma or waiting for them to heal from a brain injury. Kurt has read all about that before, when he was curious about what it was like all those years ago when Blaine first had his accident. Now it’s old hat, and he needs an answer to his question. He backtracks to his search and hits the second option. The first thing he read was right there, bolded in a bulleted list.

• A person with a brain injury is a person first

Well thanks, Kurt thought. He knew that. Perhaps better than most people. But at the same time it was nice to have the reassurance. He scrolled down and found more information about areas of the brain, all of which he has already spent countless hours studying. He knew by heart the areas of the brain and their function.

Kurt went back to his search and scrolled down a bit. He wasn’t sure exactly what he was looking for, or if he even really had questions that needed to be answered.

Coping with Behavior Problems after Head Injury

Not a new issue…Blaine’s behavior had been the same as long as Kurt had known him.

Brain Injury and its Impact on Families

Not relevant, Blaine’s family had long since learned to cope with what had happened.

Life After Brain Injuries: Are We Still the Same People…

Definitely not, in Blaine’s case, but Kurt hadn’t known him before so it didn’t matter.

The Survival Guide – Living with Acquired Brain Injury in…

Kurt paused and clicked on that last one, a pdf from some Canadian government website. He felt a flutter of anxiety in his chest, and he knew that his nerves were from more than excitement about Blaine moving in with him. It was such a big step, but Blaine’s parents were as eager to get him out in the world as they were terrified of letting him out of their sight. It would be good for him, and good for all of them. But it would also be the biggest life adjustment any of them could have ever imagined.

The pdf finished loading and Kurt browsed the table of contents. It all looked so familiar in theory, all of it learned from the home caregiver classes Mr. and Mrs. Anderson had paid for him, Rachel, and Santana to take last summer. Kurt exited out of the browser and concluded simply that no amount of research or classes could truly prepare him for the monumental task ahead of him.

Was he really ready for this?

...............................

The answer was yes, and Kurt knew it the moment the door of the loft rolled open and not even two seconds later were his arms full of happy, excited boy. Blaine clutched onto him, letting out a squeal of joy at feeling Kurt embrace him tightly. He rubbed a hand down Blaine’s back and felt his boyfriend's lips brush his cheek as Blaine pulled back, a wide grin on his beautiful face.

“Kurt!” said Blaine excitedly, bouncing slightly on the balls of his feet. He reached out and grasped Kurt’s hand in his, twining their fingers together, then he stepped forward and bumped their shoulders together before rooting himself right smack inside Kurt’s personal bubble.

“Blaine!” said Kurt back, smiling happily and lifting his arm above Blaine’s head, their hands still attached, and settled it around his shoulders, holding his boyfriend close. “Did you have a good flight?”

“Uh huh,” said Blaine, nodding quickly. “I sat between Mama and Daddy and looked out the window. The flight attendants were, they were super nice and let me, they gave me extra pretzels ‘cause they said I’m cute.”

“Well you are,” said Kurt, kissing him on the cheek right as Blaine’s parents came through the door, wheeling behind them five suitcases and looking quite disgruntled. Blaine’s smile fell as soon as he spotted them.

“Oops. Sorry Mama.” He broke away from Kurt and hurried over to help his mother with their bags. Vivienne Anderson smiled in relief and immediately began a survey of the loft, while her husband Jack quickly hurried back out the door to get the rest of their things. Blaine had brought everything he would need over on the plane, and Kurt knew it would be a lot.

“Hello Viv,” said Kurt politely, watching as the dark haired woman looked around with a critical eye. Kurt held his breath for a moment, waiting for her to give him the okay. At last, she turned toward him and smiled.

“Oh Kurt, honey, this place is wonderful. Blaine is going to love it here. There’s so much space, and with you and the girls he’s going to settle right in.” She stepped over and pulled Kurt into a tight embrace that he melted into. As much as he loved his step-mother, Viv’s hugs were always special to him in their own way.

“I’m glad you think so.” Kurt reluctantly pulled back from the hug and moved over to where Blaine stood, momentarily confused by the pile of suitcases beside him. “I know it’s only been like a week, but I’ve missed you so much.”

Blaine beamed and kissed Kurt square on the lips, pressing closer after a moment. Kurt let himself be kissed for ten seconds, then pushed Blaine off lightly. Self-control when it came to Kurt was not Blaine’s strong suit. Blaine hummed happily and looked around. Kurt wasn’t sure if he had really absorbed that this was his new home or not, but it would come in time.

“C’mon Blaine, our room is this way. Let’s take your stuff and get you settled. You must be tired after all the traveling.” Kurt grabbed a couple of the suitcases and wheeled them toward his bedroom area, Blaine doing the same and following quickly.

Once inside the curtained area of their room, Blaine looked around in wonder. He slowly walked the whole space, touching everything within reach. Kurt knew this was Blaine’s special way of getting acquainted with a space, but also that it would take time for Blaine to recognize it as his own.

“We can unpack your clothes tomorrow. It’ll take some time to hang them all up. We’ll get all the important stuff out before your parents leave, but for now, do you want to rest?” asked Kurt, as Blaine finished his journey around the room.

“Yeah…” Blaine paused to yawn. “Yeah I’d like rest. Sounds good.”

He nodded sleepily and took a couple steps toward the bed before falling onto it. Kurt laughed and walked over to give his tired boyfriend a kiss on the forehead. Blaine smiled up at him, his eyes full of wonder and love. Kurt loved this innocence, and knew that it would make their life together trying, but he would do anything for this boy.

“I love you,” said Blaine, reaching up to brush his soft fingertips against Kurt’s cheek. Kurt captured Blaine’s hand in his and gave those precious fingertips a loving brush of his lips.

“I love you too,” whispered Kurt. Blaine’s eyes blinked slowly, until at last they fluttered closed and he drifted off. Kurt watched him for a moment, knowing that frequent naps were often Blaine’s escape from the difficulties of navigating the big world. Then he gently rose from the bed and left the room, pulling the curtains tight.

“Is he sleeping?” Viv asked, keeping her voice low. Kurt nodded and invited her to sit down at the kitchen table. Her husband, Blaine’s father, Jack came in with the rest of their suitcases. Noting the absence of his son, he immediately softened his movements and quietly walked over to sit beside his wife.

“This is a nice place,” said Jack softly. “Good neighborhood, I think. Blaine should be safe here with the three of you caring for him.”

Kurt smiled. “I’m not sure how capable Rachel Berry will be when it comes to handling Blaine at his worst, but she’s agreed to stay with him when Santana and I are busy. Between the three of us, we’ll be able to handle school, work, and Blaine.”

“You just remember,” said Jack seriously. “We’re helping you out for the first six months. And any issues you have with Blaine, especially medical wise, we’re a phone call away.”

“And the government should start sending you checks soon. You’re Blaine’s full time caregiver now,” added Viv. She instantly saw the look of hesitation that passed over Kurt’s face. “Kurt…are you sure you’re ready for this?”

“I have to be,” said Kurt. He looked down at the table and sighed. “I love Blaine, more than anything. And I’ve been preparing for this since we decided on it last year. It’s just…it’s here now. And it’s kind of overwhelming.”

Kurt had feared that Blaine’s parents wouldn’t let Blaine live with him if he expressed his concerns earlier, but now that Blaine was here they couldn't take him back. Blaine was precious to him, and he had practically been living with Blaine back in Lima, spending more nights in Blaine’s room than at his own house. It was just all so real now, out in the big wide world, about to start college, and hundreds of miles from his dad.

“Kurt.” Viv reached out and took the young man’s hand in her own, giving it a gentle squeeze. “Do you think I really want to let my baby go? Of course not. His life is hard. He can’t make his own decisions, he can’t function as an adult, and he can’t be left alone. You know that. Hell, no amount of special teachers could help him graduate high school. This is a big decision, for all of us. But I know that this is truly what he wants. Now the question is…is it truly what you want?”

Worrying his lip between his teeth, Kurt thought for a minute. He was ready, he knew he was. He just had to say it. But the words weren't coming…

He glanced over at the curtain separating his – their – room from the rest of the space. Blaine was sleeping quietly in there, for now. And later he would need dinner, which Kurt would have to prepare for him. Then he’d want to cuddle on the couch, and then it would be bath time which Kurt would have to supervise, then more cuddles on the couch, then time for bed. That was Blaine’s schedule and they would have to make it work.

“Yes,” said Kurt at last. “I am ready for this. I will take care of Blaine.”

Viv squeezed his hand one last time before letting it go. “We’ll be here for a couple of days to help you adjust. Our hotel is just down the block. But I think Blaine is in very capable hands.”

Kurt smiled, and for the first time, he actually agreed.