Vision is not seeing things as they are, but as they will be.
OSA: Office of Sight Assistance. Subset of Department of Health and Human Services. Designed to provide assistance to the blind. Services include emergency response teams, caretakers, guide dogs, sight registration officials, and sight accommodation instructors.
1. Blindness (NSA: Needs Sight Assistance): Individuals are born blind. Sight is lost when destined partner dies.*
2. BW (Black and White): Individuals who have fallen in love and gained sight but are not currently with destined partner.
3. Color: Individuals with color attributes to their sight are classified as cultivating a relationship with said destined partner.
*It is possible to regain sight once lost. Rare occurrence: less than 30% of the population are listed as multiple registers, e.g. secondary register.
1. Lessons in Braille begin at the age of four, administered by the OSA.
2. All individuals are given the option at the age of six to accept sight assistance outside of parents/guardians. Assistance can come in the form of a caretaker or a guide dog.
3. When sight is gained, all individuals have seventy-two hours to report changed status to the OSA. Failure to report/register status change within this time frame results in a fine starting at $125 and increasing at regular intervals. After three months, if an individual has not reported/registered a change, the individual will be subjected to incarceration. An individual is considered truant if the OSA has knowledge of a change in status but a failure to report/register it; an individual is considered MIA (missing in action) if the OSA has this knowledge and the individual cannot be located for fines due/incarceration/registration.
4. When an individual gains sight/color attributes, the OSA must be notified. The OSA will then arrange for an official instructor to plan lessons with said individual to accommodate new abilities.
Kurt wakes rather suddenly, head turning toward the direction of his door. “Dad?” he murmurs quietly.
“Yeah, bud, it's me. Can you wake Rolf and help me find the phone?”
“Sure,” Kurt mumbles sleepily, whistling lowly. “Come here, boy.” There's a soft panting sound as the dog makes its way to the bedside. Kurt reaches out his hand, waiting until soft fur touches his fingertips. “Phone,” he says clearly, pushing himself to the edge of the bed. “Bring me the phone, Rolf.”
The panting grows faint as the dog heads up the stairs but a din grows louder as Burt struggles to make his way down the rest of the stairs into the basement. “Sorry,” Burt says as something clatters to floor. “I don't think I'm breakin' anything --”
“What's wrong?” Kurt asks quietly. There's a creaking sound as his father sinks down next to him, and it takes a fraction of a second for Burt's hand to find his son's. “Why do you need the phone? Why can't you get it yourself?”
“Because,” Burt says gently, “I can't see anymore, kiddo.”
There isn't really a good way to find out that your mother has died, and Kurt's only eight, but he knows enough about the world, understands enough to know that his dad being blind again means that his mother is dead. “Oh,” Kurt says shakily.
“I'm sorry,” Burt says, and Kurt can hear it in his voice, can hear in his father's voice how much he's hurting.
“It's not your fault,” Kurt protests, and then there are tears falling down his cheeks and he can't help sniffing. Burt's arms wrap around him and tug him close, his nightshirt -- flannel, Kurt recognizes by touch -- absorbing the steady flow from Kurt's eyes.
Rolf is at Kurt's knees in a few moments again, dropping the phone from his mouth into Kurt's lap, edges wet with drool. Kurt shifts the portable into his father's hands, and it's quiet for a moment as Burt's fingers glide over the plastic keys, hesitating. “Kurt,” he says thickly. “Kurt, you know where the buttons are, don't you?”
“Yes,” Kurt whispers.
“Can you --” Burt stops, clearing his throat, and Kurt can hear the frustration, the anger in his father's voice. “Can you press speed dial one for me?”
“OSA?” Kurt asks blankly, reaching out and fumbling to pry the phone from his father's hands. “Why do I need to call them?”
“Because I need their help,” Burt says calmly.
Kurt's fingers hover over the correct buttons as he bites his lip. “I can help you,” he insists quietly. “I'm doing it now, and we have Rolf --”
Burt sighs, reaching out to rub the back of Kurt's neck. “I know, bud, but it's -- it's not your job to take care of me, to take care of all of this. It's my job to take care of you, okay?” Kurt doesn't answer, fingers still trembling over the buttons. Burt's hand falls from Kurt's neck to his hand, thumb caressing reassuringly over the back of his son's hand. “Call the OSA, Kurt.”
Kurt inhales sharply but does as he's instructed, thumb hitting the two buttons quickly before forcing the phone back into his father's hands. He scoots back on the bed, pressing his back against the wall, his legs pulled in tight against his chest and his chin tucked between his knees. His world has shifted in ways he hadn't expected. The books on his shelf call out to him silently, Braille begging to be read under his fingertips, fairy tales lying to him across the distance of the room in the night. Kurt is supposed to fall in love (with a prince, a boy, he hopes, though he'd never tell his father that) and gain his sight.
Instead, he's eight and his mother just died and his father is blind again and Kurt can't do anything to help other than ask favors of his guide dog and hit a few buttons. He feels hopelessly lost, useless, small. His world's never been this dark before. And then it occurs to him that for the first time in his short life, he and his dad are finally on the same page, on level ground. His dad hasn't always been able to see; Kurt knows this. But it's been so long since then and Kurt's never known him like this, blind and helpless and just like him.
It's just them, now.
Well, and Rolf. The dog clambers up onto the bed, an explicit and obvious disobedience, but neither Kurt nor Burt chastises him. Kurt feels the mattress creak a little more under the added weight and he extends his legs, hand reaching out again. Rolf settles down quietly, head falling to Kurt's lap. Kurt strokes his fur absently, silent tears falling down his cheeks again, until he feels the edge of the phone poking against part of his hand and Rolf's ear. He takes the phone from his father and feels for the 'off' button, setting it down on the pillow.
In the dark, Burt's hand finds Kurt's, and together, they wait in silence, mourning loss of love and sight.
Kurt reaches out a hand, searching for the banister that accompanies the stairs to the stage in the auditorium, Rolf trotting along happily in front of him. Kurt stumbles a little at the first step, a quiet thud echoing across the empty auditorium --
“Oh, I'm so sorry,” comes a tearful voice somewhere in front of him. Kurt hesitates on the top step, waiting at the edge of the stage. “Here, let me just... get out of your way. Come on, Fanny --”
Kurt narrows his eyes, gripping Rolf's harness tighter. “Rachel?”
There's a silence before she answers back, “Kurt?” He hears her scramble to her feet and start to cross the stage towards him. “Oh my god, you're so tall.”
“What are you talking about?” Kurt snaps. “How would you know the difference unless --” He snaps his mouth shut here, jaw setting.
“I can see,” Rachel whispers. “I can -- I can see,” she half-sobs, and then Kurt's arms are just full of her, face buried against his chest, tears staining his shirt (Marc Jacobs, thank you very much). He's forced to let go of Rolf's harness for a moment as his arms freeze in mid-air, debating what to do with her.
“Rachel,” Kurt says as gently as he can, but it comes out half-irritated and she ends up ignoring him anyway. “Rachel,” he says again, more firmly, but she just clings tighter and cries harder. “Rachel.” Kurt moves his hands to her arms and forces her off of him, holding her at arm's length. “Get a grip.”
“But I can see,” she reminds him.
“Yes, I know,” Kurt sighs. “And I'm happy for you, Rachel, really, but can you maybe tone down the theatrics a notch?”
“I -- I can't,” she stammers, grabbing his hand and tugging him forward. Kurt stumbles, flailing for Rolf's harness and missing it, and ends up being tugged down onto the stage floor. A thin fabric meets his palms and his fingers immediately pinch against it, trying to identify it. “Oh, that,” Rachel says dismissively. “I had that packed for a picnic,” she starts to explain, and then she's rambling and Kurt doesn't even know where to begin (maybe asking how she packed a picnic blind is a good place to start), but she doesn't give him a chance to get a word in edgewise. “And then he just... left.”
Kurt exhales slowly, rubbing his temple. He's been with Rachel a total of two minutes and he's already getting a headache. “Okay, slow down,” he instructs. “Rewind. Start over. What happened?”
“Finn,” she says, and Kurt's stomach drops. “I... I've liked him ever since he joined glee club, but he's dating Quinn Fabray and I figured I didn't have a chance. But then...”
“Then?” Kurt prompts, even though he really, really doesn't want to hear the rest of this story.
“We were here, practicing scales, and Kurt, he's getting so good, you should hear him --” Kurt's stomach twists unpleasantly. “We stopped to have a snack, and he told me that he thought I was good, Kurt.” The knots in Kurt's stomach turn an ugly shade of green. “And then he said a lot of other stuff, unimportant, about me being a little crazy and talking too much.” Kurt silently agrees.
He feels Rachel reach for his hand again, then, and somehow, he can't find it in him to hate her all that much. “Kurt, he told me that when I sang, I touched something in him. Right... here,” she emphasized, moving her free hand to Kurt's chest, directly over his heart. “And I blinked and then I could just see, Kurt...”
She's crying again and Kurt doesn't have a tissue on hand so he fumbles around the expanse in front of him, hands knocking over plastic cups and a metal cylinder. “Rachel, do you have napkins or something?” he asks, frustrated.
“Oh, yeah, here,” she sniffs, reaching around one of his arms and grabbing at something. She blows her nose, rather loudly and right next Kurt's ear, before continuing. “We were drinking virgin cosmos --”
“Where the hell did you get virgin cosmos?” Kurt mutters darkly.
Rachel doesn't hear him. “-- and then he said I had some on my lip -- ohmygod.”
“What?” Kurt sighs, exasperated.
“How did he know I had cosmo on my lip?” Rachel wonders aloud. “He -- Kurt, he must've been able to see me already. Kurt, Finn's in love with me.”
Kurt feels his heart sink a little but he swallows and offers Rachel a weak smile. “Yeah,” he echos faintly. “He must be.”
“But it all went wrong,” Rachel wails, and the little bit of sympathy Kurt's been feeling starts to disappear. “Because he kissed me and --”
“Wait, wait, he kissed you?” Kurt demands, outraged.
“Yeah,” Rachel chokes out, half-laughing. “I told him he could, if he wanted to, and then he was kissing me and I opened my eyes for a second and it was....”
“It was what?”
“Color,” Rachel breathes. “At least... I think that's what it was. It was different than what I'm seeing now, I swear, Kurt.”
“Color,” Kurt says softly.
“But then he left,” Rachel finishes, and Kurt can tell by her voice that she's on the verge of tears again. “He just got up and said not to tell anyone and he just... left me.”
And really, even with all of the theatrics that make it so Rachel, Kurt actually thinks he understands, a little. Gaining sight, and then color, and then losing color tied in with all of the emotional wreckage that is Rachel Berry had to have been pretty traumatizing. He remembers how he felt when he found out his mom died, and curling up into his dad...
Sighing, Kurt reaches out a hand, tugging Rachel forward into a hug once she takes it. “He loves you, Rachel,” Kurt placates. “I don't think it's the last time you'll see in color.”
“You think so?” Rachel asks in a small voice, hands gripping Kurt's shirt again.
Kurt pulls away a little, looking down at her (and wow, that's a new thing he's going to have to adjust to, knowing that Rachel is shorter than him and he actually has a better idea of where to look when he talks to her). “Did he have his guide dog with him?”
“Drizzle? Um, no, I -- I don't think so. Why?”
“Then he's probably been able to see for a few days,” Kurt points out. “And if he didn't need help out of here, then he can probably still see now, which means...”
“He's in love with me,” Rachel supplies, half-laughing. Kurt reaches out idly and pats the top of Rolf's head; he feels Rachel reach out to do the same to Fanny, whom she probably isn't going to need for much longer. “Kurt?” she says after a few moments.
“You'll find someone,” she promises, taking his hand again. “Someone who is handsome and charming and --” Kurt swallows, retracting his hand instinctively because he's not out yet, Rachel's making assumptions because she has two gay dads, how does she know? She tapers off, and Kurt can tell she's offended by him closing himself off to her, but after a moment, she seems to gather the courage to say what she wants. “You'll be able to see,” she insists, “and then you'll be able to see how happy you've made me by being a good friend today, and you'll see what a good person you are.”
Kurt's not sure he needs sight to 'see' either of those things, but he indulges her a little anyway. “Maybe.” He's not exactly on board with being buddy-buddy with Rachel right now (she is his biggest competition in more ways than one, because she's essentially him with different plumbing), but he decides that he won't murder her in her sleep just yet. “Or maybe I'll see just how awful your fashion sense is.”
Rachel gasps in mock outrage. “Animal sweaters are a trend right now, Kurt.”
“You keep telling yourself that,” Kurt chides with a grin. “I don't need my sight to tell you you're wrong.”
Kurt lifts his head, fingers still dancing across the piano keys in front of him. “Finn?”
“Hey, man,” Finn sighs. Kurt hears Finn settle down on the piano bench next to him; he wonders just how far apart they are.
“Bad night?” Kurt asks tentatively, turning a little.
“Like you wouldn't believe,” Finn huffs out.
“So the song didn't work?”
“Backfired,” Finn snorts. Kurt tenses next to him and Finn must notice because he reaches out and taps Kurt's arm with the back of his hand. “No, hey, it wasn't you. It- her parents kicked her out.”
“They what?” Kurt gasps, fingers gripping the edge of the piano bench tightly. He feels so lucky: his dad didn't kick him out when he found out that Kurt was gay (and Finn just touched him). “They just kicked her out?”
“Yeah. Gave her half an hour to pack. Her father set the timer on the microwave.”
“I -- I'm sorry,” Kurt says quietly.
“No, it's -- it's better this way,” Finn reasons. “No more secrets. Everything's out in the open.” He hesitates for a moment and then Kurt can feel Finn's knee brushing against his thigh as he turns. Kurt's chest seizes. “Right?” Finn checks.
Kurt's heart breaks. “Right,” he echoes faintly.
“Anyway,” Finn says abruptly (and oh, his knee is gone), “let's work on your ballad. You were really helpful when I was trying to find mine. So what is it?”
Kurt can't bring himself to look in Finn's direction because Finn can see and Kurt can't. Kurt can't control what his face looks like or what emotions he conveys; instead, Kurt hangs his head to where he knows the piano is, and says, very quietly, “I Honestly Love You.”
It's quiet for a moment and Kurt can't breathe, he's so nervous. He's not sure if Finn will get the double meaning or reciprocate his feelings. Kurt feels so much for this boy, and he's not sure he can take it if Finn doesn't feel the same. Finn was pretty much the only person, the only boy, before the rest of glee club who even stopped to think about Kurt's feelings or well-being. Every single time one of the jocks tossed him in the dumpster, Finn's voice would cut through the laughs and the jeers. Finn didn't have to see Kurt to give him a second chance, to make the damage a little less prevalent. And yes, Kurt still ended up at the bottom of the dumpster, bone hitting against metal with a loud clang, and it killed him to hear Rolf whining outside, clawing and scratching and trying desperately to help. Some days, the echos of Finn's voice were the only thing motivating Kurt to climb out of that dumpster and find Rolf's harness again.
Finn elbows him gently. “Sounds awesome.” And with that, Kurt exhales shakily, letting out a noise somewhere between a laugh and a sob because Finn doesn't get it. He doesn't feel the same because he's with Quinn, Quinn is having his child, and then there's Rachel to consider --
For once, Kurt wants to be the first person someone sees. He doesn't want to be invisible anymore.
“I mean, I don't know the song,” Finn babbles, and Kurt laughs a little more, trying desperately not to cry. “But it sounds positive and nice and stuff.” And Finn sounds awkward and Kurt just wants to crawl away where Finn can't see him anymore, not like this --
“Kurt? Finn?” comes Mercedes' voice from somewhere behind him. Kurt wheels around on the bench, grateful for a distraction. He can hear the nails of her guide dog, Billie, clacking against the floor of the stage.
“Yeah, it's us, 'Cedes,” Kurt affirms.
“We need to go to the choir room,” she informs them.
“Why?” Finn asks.
Kurt remembers Quinn, remembers how it felt to have his hands on her growing stomach, still small but obvious and full of life, and he feels a little guilty. He can't use Finn as a means to an end like this; he can't hurt Quinn. Kurt tries to smile a little and pushes himself off of the bench, hand clutching Rolf's harness. “Because there's something we want to give you and Quinn,” he announces.
But when Finn's hand finds Kurt's shoulder (and, Kurt suspects, Mercedes' as well), Kurt feels the guilt begin to ebb away.
Kurt reaches out reflexively, batting his father's hand away from the snack table. “You have no idea what that is, or if it's even organic,” Kurt snaps.
“How do you know it's not organic?” Burt argues, moving the snack under Kurt's nose.
Kurt inhales and wrinkles his nose disapprovingly (so much sugar) before reaching out and tracing the top of the cookie with this thumb. “Because you can feel the logo branded on it. Here, feel-”
Burt makes a disparaging noise but relinquishes his prize. There's a new voice -- female -- in the room after a moment, greeted by one of the other parents as 'Mrs. Hudson.' Kurt's ears perk up and he grabs his dad's arm, purposefully trying to steer Rolf in the direction of the door. Burt must run into someone close because he immediately rushes out an apology, hands reaching out beyond Kurt to steady the offended party. “I'm so sorry,” Burt huffs out, elbowing Kurt a little.
“It's fine,” the voice -- a woman's -- laughs.
“Mrs. Hudson?” Kurt ventures. “Is that you?”
“Yes,” she answers slowly. “And you are...?”
“Kurt Hummel,” he answers brightly, fumbling for her hand. “I'm in glee club with your son, Finn.”
“Oh, Kurt! Yes, Finn's told me so much about you all,” Carole enthuses. “Says you're very talented and into fashion.”
“Well, as much as one can be in this state,” Kurt laughs.
“Oh, I'm sure if you could see my outfit, you'd insist on giving me a makeover,” she teases. “Acid wash denim and all.”
“Hey,” Burt chimes in. “I was just saying to a friend the other day that acid wash should make a comeback.” There's a questioning silence before he adds, “Burt Hummel. I'm Kurt's dad.”
“Nice to meet you,” Carole says pleasantly. “Who says it ever left?” she adds, teasing. “I'm telling you, blind or not, I'll defend the fashion of the 80s until my dying day.”
“Widowed?” Burt asks gently.
“Since Finn was an infant,” Carole affirms.
“Widower,” Burt emphasizes. “Eight years.”
Kurt fidgets uncomfortably, Rolf's nose rubbing affectionately at Kurt's shin. “Widower,” Carole muses. “Haven't encountered one in a while. Well, at least not one young enough to have a kid who's still blind.”
“I bet most of the widowers you meet don't appreciate acid wash denim, though,” Burt chides gleefully, and it takes Kurt a second to realize that his dad is flirting.
Carole laughs, the sound bubbling in her throat. “Can't say they do,” she admits. “Grief counselor. Most of the widowers I hang out with are in their 70s.”
Kurt half expects his dad to make a joke about how he's probably better looking than most of those guys, but instead all Burt opts for is, “Lucky bastards.” There's a pause, and then an audible gasp that causes Kurt's brow to wrinkle in confusion. Before Kurt can say anything, though, there's a clap from the teacher and the parents settle in for a short speech before they break off individually to talk about their kids. Kurt loses track of his dad for a while after their meeting, fingers running nervously through Rolf's fur. At the end of the night, Burt's fingers enclose around Kurt's elbow, and together, they make their way to the shuttle for a ride home.
Kurt's barely crossed the threshold before he hears the front door click shut behind him; his father's voice calls after him immediately. “Kurt.”
Kurt pauses in the entryway, hand gripping at the handle of Rolf's harness. “Yeah?” he calls back, fighting to keep the nerves out of his voice and failing miserably. There's a part of him that hopes things developed well with Carole (they certainly seemed that way at first), because somehow Kurt's got it worked out that if their parents are closer, that means he and Finn will be closer as well. But... there's another part of him, the part that's only wanted to take care of his dad since his mom died, that worries, wonders what happened to make the rest of the night seem so... off.
“We need to talk,” Burt says firmly, and shit, Kurt is going to get a lecture on not setting his dad up with strange, blind women (seriously, what was Kurt even thinking?). But then Kurt feels, hears his dad move next to him, and there's a soft squishing sound (leather, Kurt identifies) as Burt leans against the back of the couch in the entryway of the living room. “There's something you need to know.”
“Okay,” Kurt says hesitantly. “What is it?” Burt inhales sharply and then just... pauses. The room is silent, Kurt isn't even breathing, and then --
Kurt feels his father's hand come resting down on his shoulder, gentle and firm all at once. “You don't look like a little boy anymore,” Burt chokes out.
“I -- oh,” Kurt breathes. He releases his grip on the handle of the harness and closes the space between them, hand shaking as they reach up to touch his father's face. It's a lot more worn than Kurt remembers it, wrinkles increased and stubble prickling against Kurt's fingers. Slowly, Burt's eyes flutter shut as Kurt's fingers trace over them, again and again and then down the laugh lines of his face to his mouth where, Kurt feels, Burt is trying to fight back a smile.
“Your eyes are still blue, though,” Burt laughs.
“Dad.” Kurt lets his hands fall to his father's chest, clinging again to flannel, and it's a repeat of eight years ago, curled into his dad, crying over sight. Burt reaches his hand over Kurt's shoulder and tugs his son closer, exhaling loudly into Kurt's hair.
“You okay?” Burt mumbles, words muffled by his lips pressed to Kurt's temple.
“Yeah,” Kurt huffs out, pulling back a little. He lifts his head to where his dad's should be, in front and above. Kurt has never, never wanted to be able to see more than right now, because he can feel the difference in his dad, hear it in his voice. If happiness came with a scent or taste, he's pretty sure his dad would be that, too. “It's just...” He releases his grip on his dad's shirt and moves his hands up again, thumbs tracing laugh lines again. “You feel happier.”
“I am happier,” Burt assures him, bringing his hands around to grasp at Kurt's wrists.
Kurt smiles at him and then twists his hands out of Burt's, batting his father on the shoulder, laughing. “You just met her!”
“Yeah,” Burt says, and if Kurt reached up his hands, he'd be able to confirm his father's grin. “Gives whole new meaning to the phrase 'love at first sight,' right?” Kurt hums, unanswering. “What can I say? The heart wants what the heart wants.”
“Which, apparently, is acid wash denim,” Kurt says dryly.
“Hey,” Burt fires back in mock outrage, “one day, when you can see, you'll see how right we were. It's making a comeback.”
Kurt shakes his head (a gesture his dad can see again) but smiles all the same. “Never.”
Kurt's fairly certain that it's not a coincidence that he happens to get shoved into his locker right after he says goodbye to Mercedes; he's also fairly certain it was Azimio who did it, recognizing his voice. Kurt feels Rolf's nose nudge against his knee. “I'm okay,” he murmurs, reaching down to pat the dog's head reassuringly.
By the time Kurt gets home that afternoon, though, he's convinced that the ache he feels isn't nearly as bad as it normally is. And in his room, alone, he'll admit to himself why: Coach Sylvester's words got to him more than he'd like. He's not sure if she can see or not, with the way she'd pinched his waist in her office, the perfect accompaniment to her biting words. Pear hips.
Kurt frowns, slipping out of his cheerleading uniform and feeling his way to the bathroom, briefs the only piece of clothing clinging to him. He knows there's a mirror in the bathroom and that it's pretty much useless to him since he can't see in it. But he stands in front of it anyway, bare and vulnerable. Slowly, he brings his fingers up to touch his neck, tracing every line, every curve, every bone. His shoulders aren't particularly broad; they're proportional to the rest of his body, at least they feel that way. But maybe that's the problem. Maybe they're supposed to be more broad. Maybe he doesn't look like a man. His fingers trail down, over chest and abdomen (and oh, there are his ribs; she didn't call him fat, but maybe he's too thin). Kurt hesitates, not wanting to go further, but reluctantly he sighs, fingers flexing against his hips, and --
He can feel the fat there, feel it cushion the muscle and bone, feel it soft and pliant beneath his touch.
He does have pear hips.
It's why he's able to shrug off the shoves and tosses so easily, why the bruises (whatever bruises look like) don't hurt as much. His hips can suffer the blows.
And he gets why that's wrong. All he's ever heard is how men admire the curves of women, the breasts and the buttocks and the hips. And he's not, Kurt's not a girl. He may get along with them better but he's a boy, and he likes boys, and he wants a boy to like him because he's a boy, not because he looks like a girl.
Slowly, he sinks to the bathroom floor, cold tile shocking his skin. Kurt pulls his knees to his chest and rests his forehead against them, exhaling shakily. He has to figure out a way to fix this, to get rid of these hips and be a man, to be perceived as masculine, to be seen the right way.
It's sort of unfair that he has this working against him when love and sight are so closely intertwined.
He starts to cry in earnest, tears wet and dripping down his thighs. People gain their sight when they fall in love. It's supposed to be romantic, loving without seeing. There's no judgment, no added pressure. But Kurt has never given a second thought to what it must be like to see the person you love for the first time. What if he's a disappointment? What if he looks too much like a girl? What if the boy he falls for doesn't want to be with him because he's too feminine? Because he has pear hips?
Kurt sniffs, wiping his eyes with the back of his hand. He ignores the mirror he can't see above him and reaches a hand down, palming his cock through his briefs just once. “I'm a boy,” he whispers fervently. “I'm a boy, I'm a boy, I'maboy.”
He'll do whatever it takes to make the world see it.
Kurt sits quietly in the basement, fingers tracing over the damaged portions of his Gaga platforms. He can't see and he's not a skilled enough designer to fix this; he feels bad for Miss Pillsbury, who put in so much effort to help them with their costumes this week. His fingers flex angrily over the edge of the shoe before he sets it down. “Could you have a word with Azimio and Karofsky about harassing me and damaging my Gaga outfit?
There's a pause before Finn's voice answers him. “Are you serious? Do you know how difficult it is with those guys? They already think we're boyfriends.”
Kurt feels the heat in his face but chooses to rise above it, reaching out and skipping to the next song on his iPod. Lady Gaga's Speechless starts to play. “Let them think what they want. They're Neanderthals. In three years, they'll be cleaning my septic tank.”
“Don't you get it?” Finn snaps. “It's not just them. We live in Ohio, not New York or San Francisco or some other city where people eat vegetables that aren't fried.” He pauses, the chair he's sitting in squeaking as he turns. “I don't understand why you always need to make such a big spectacle of yourself.”
“Because that's what I'm doing, right?” Kurt throws back coldly. “Because I know that's what I'm doing? Of course, the only out gay kid at McKinley must be asking for trouble, because of the way he talks and sings and dresses, because of who he's attracted to. Well, newsflash, Finn -- those are things I can't change.”
“Why can't you just work harder at blending in?” Finn asks, the sigh in his voice telling Kurt he's clearly exasperated.
“And how exactly am I supposed to do that?” Kurt asks dryly.
“I don't know,” Finn bites out. “But this isn't helping.”
“This?” Kurt asks, arching an eyebrow purely because he knows Finn can see it.
“Gaga and the stupid outfits and --”
“You want me to change the way I dress,” Kurt deadpans. “You don't want me to wear costumes for music numbers for glee club.”
“You don't get it!” Finn groans. “You don't get how ridiculous it looks, and that's not even the half of it because those guys can't even see what you look like --”
“And neither can I,” Kurt reminds him through gritted teeth. “You are asking the impossible.”
“Whatever,” Finn grumbles, and the chair squeaks again. “Ugh, I can't get this stupid make-up off.”
Kurt rolls his eyes and sighs, reaching out for the box next to him. “You are such a boy,” he chastises. “You're going to have to use a moist towelette if you wanna get that make-up off,” he explains, reaching over to help Finn wipe his face dry.
Finn's hands push Kurt's away instantly with a loud smack. “Don't touch me,” Finn growls. Kurt's hand starts to shake, fist clenching around the towel. There's a creaking sound as Finn pushes himself off of the chair, and before Kurt can say anything, Finn starts raving. “Why is this so hard for you? Why can't you just accept that I'm not like you?”
“Not like me, how, exactly?” Kurt asks carefully. “Are we talking about sight, or are you talking about the fact that I'm gay?” Finn's silence is all the answer he needs. “I have accepted that --”
“No, you haven't,” Finn argues. “You think I don't see the way you stare at me when I talk, how flirty you get? You think I don't know why you got so excited that we were going to be moving in together?”
“It's just a moist towelette, Finn!” Kurt yells, pushing himself off of the chair. Rolf whines at the noise. Kurt is not equipped to handle this, he's not. He's been in denial for far, far too long, he knows that, but it hurts more coming from Finn like this. And Kurt can't help the way he looks at Finn, because he's not actually trying to look at Finn. “I'm sorry if you feel like I'm invading your personal space, but you're the one moving into my room. And before you complain, I won't be able to redecorate, so feel free to take the reins on that one.”
“Good,” Finn says briskly. “Then the first thing to go is that faggy lamp --” Kurt's heart stops. Finn has never resorted to language like this and it's so not fair; Kurt didn't pick it out, he can't see it, there's no way for him to tell what makes it that way. “And then,” Finn continues, “we can get rid of this faggy couch blanket --”
“Hey!” Kurt wheels around, eyes searching hopelessly for his father. “What did you just call him?”
Kurt's chest heaves in protest and he wishes he could see, wishes he could step between them because this isn't what he wants at all. “I didn't,” Finn protests. “I was just.. talking to the blanket --”
“You use that word, you're talking about him,” Burt says dangerously.
“Relax, Dad, I didn't take it that way,” Kurt cuts in.
“Yeah, that's because you're sixteen and you still assume the best in people. You live a few years... you start seeing the hate in people's hearts, even the best people.” And this, this is something Kurt can identify with, the concept of sight that isn't related to his eyes. His heart floods with affection for his father as it cuts loose the ties that he's been trying to bind to Finn.
“That's not what I meant --” Finn tries timidly.
“I know what you meant!” Burt shouts, and his voice is further away from Kurt, now, closer to where he thinks Finn is. Rolf whines again and Kurt hears the dog move away from him; there's no sound on the stairs, though, so Kurt figures he's gone to hide in a corner or under a table. “You meant it the same way everyone means it -- that being gay is wrong, that it's some kind of punishable offense.”
“But I wasn't talking about Kurt,” Finn tries again. “I was talking about the blanket --”
“You think that makes a difference?” Burt scoffs. “I don't buy it, but let's say, for argument's sake, that you were talking about the blanket. How the hell is Kurt supposed to know if it's faggy or not? He can't see, Finn. You and me and your mom, we all can. And that makes a world of difference. So don't stand there and tell me that you were talking about the blanket, that it's the blanket that's faggy, because there is no other way for Kurt to take it except directed at him.”
And suddenly, Kurt gets it. He doesn't need to see to know why people hate him so much: it's because he's different, more different than most people. He doesn't speak or sing like most boys, he's gay, he's blind. Kurt doesn't have control over any of that. Kurt can't see all of that, but he doesn't need to. He always, always tries to rise above stuff like this, to let it roll off his back. But, he realizes, that's because the people who can see -- people like Finn -- can see problems that he can't, that maybe most of his peers can't but know are there anyway. If Kurt could only see, he might be able to fix things, fix himself, fix... god, anything.
But he can't, and in the pit of his stomach, Kurt knows there's a very real possibility he never will. He's known for a long time that Finn is meant to be with Rachel. But Kurt thought that maybe, just maybe, he could change that. Maybe Finn would be able to see past all of this. Maybe, if Kurt tried hard enough, he'd actually fall in love enough to be able to see, to make Finn see.
“Burt,” Finn says slowly, and Kurt can hear the hesitancy in his voice. “Please, just... let me talk to Kurt. Let me explain.”
Kurt can hear his father's sharp intake of air and steps forward blindly, hand colliding with his dad's shoulder. He feels Burt turns slightly. “Dad,” Kurt breathes. “Dad, let him.”
“No,” Burt says firmly. “You don't deserve --”
“I need to hear this,” Kurt admits shakily. “I'm not saying I deserve to be called that, but just... let him talk.”
Kurt can feel how tense his dad's muscles are, tight and rigid and restrained. “Fine,” Burt says finally. “But I am right upstairs. You call up if you need anything. Understand?” Kurt nods, gripping his dad's hand tightly as it brushes over his shoulder on the way out.
They both wait in silence until the footsteps on the stairs echo away, and then Kurt feels Finn's hand on his wrist; Kurt jerks back violently. “Hey, I just --” Finn starts, and then he stops, sighing. “Okay, I deserved that. Just... can you sit down?” Kurt backs up hesitantly; the back of his knees hit the couch before he's really ready for it and he stumbles a little, sinking down onto the cushions. “It's not the gay thing,” Finn starts. Kurt's lips purse and he forgets for a minute that Finn can see that, can react to it. “Okay, maybe it is, a little,” Finn allows. “But there's something you need to know --”
“I know why you can see,” Kurt says quietly.
“You -- you do?”
Kurt nods. “It's because of Rachel,” he says shakily, and he can't fight the tears that fall down his face.
“How did you know?” Finn breathes.
“She told me,” Kurt laughs, wiping his eyes with the back of his hand. “I've known since you first kissed her.”
The couch creaks with added weight as Finn sinks down next to him. “Then why -- why did you keep pushing?” he asks miserably. “Why couldn't you just, I don't know, move on, if you knew we weren't meant to be together?”
Kurt smiles sadly. “I thought maybe I could change things.”
“Yeah,” Finn agrees, and Kurt actually turns to look at him, brain trying frantically to arrange his facial features into a look of surprise. “I thought the same thing too, once. After I found out about Puck and Quinn, and Rachel wanted us to be together --”
“You chose not to be with her,” Kurt points out. “I thought -- I thought maybe I stood a chance.”
“You know you didn't,” Finn says gently, and it's the most tender Kurt's ever heard Finn's voice, more than any rehearsal or protest before a dumpster tossing. “I was afraid of losing control, you know? Like, I have the ability to see, which is great and all, but what if I didn't want to feel that way about Rachel? What if I still wanted to feel that way about Quinn, or someone else?”
“So you gave up color?” Kurt asks incredulously.
“Sight's not everything it's made out to be,” Finn admits. “There are a lot of great things about it, but there are a lot of bad things, too.” He sighs, shifting on the couch. “I was wrong. I'm still in love with Rachel, I'm always going to be in love with Rachel. But it's too late. She's with Jesse now.”
“But she knows she's not meant to be with him,” Kurt points out, confused.
“Yeah.” There's something sad about the silence that Finn lets linger. Kurt reaches out tentatively, searching for Finn's hand; he breathes a little easier when Finn doesn't pull away. “It's not the sight that makes it worth the wait,” Finn tells him, squeezing Kurt's hand a little. “There's a reason you fall in love, first. Sometimes, seeing? It shows you just how ugly life can be without it.”
Kurt squeezes his eyes shut, hating that he can't stem the tears that fall from his eyes. Finn doesn't let go of his hand, and after a moment, Kurt feels the moist towelette pressed against his face.
Kurt clings to the handle of Rolf's harness tightly, legs trembling and tentative as they climb down the steps. Nothing should go wrong, he's been very careful. Rachel had researched what Dalton uniforms looked like and dressed Kurt up accordingly even though most of the students would probably still be blind. He'd taken the bus to the right place, he's sure of that.
No, Kurt's nerves aren't stemming from getting caught, or being in the wrong place. He's got no idea where he's going, and neither does Rolf. The best his guide dog can do is steer him away from potential hazards. There's commotion all around him, echoing on his eardrums, boys' voices ringing in laughter and excitement. Kurt swallows: he's going to have to ask someone for help.
He feels an arm brush against his briefly as someone passes him on the way down the stairs, and Kurt takes his chance. “Excuse me,” he calls out tentatively.
There's a pause, and then a beautiful, beautiful voice responds to him, notices him. “Yes?”
“Can I ask you a question? I'm new here,” Kurt lies, hoping whoever he's stopped can't see through his thin disguise.
“My name is Blaine,” the voice -- a boy's -- offers brightly.
“Kurt,” he returns, relaxing a little. “What's going on? Everyone sounds excited.”
Blaine laughs. “The Warblers,” he explains, and oh, this is going to be easier than Kurt thought. “Every now and then they throw an impromptu performance in the senior commons. Tends to shut the school down for a while.”
Kurt bites his lip, fighting back his jealousy. “So wait, the glee club here is kind of cool?”
“The Warblers are like... rock stars.” There's an incredulity that Kurt can make out in Blaine's voice but it's not one he can identify with. He only knows hate, dislike, fear. New Directions is always going to be on the bottom rung of the social ladder, away from the light and prying eyes, not good enough to be seen or heard. “Come on,” Blaine urges. “I know a shortcut. Back hallway, Rufus,” he instructs. The tension melts out of Kurt's shoulders because Blaine is blind too, Kurt is safe, no one will ever know -- “Here,” Blaine adds, and Kurt can hear the tap of Blaine's shoe as it moves up the marble staircase. “Take my hand.”
Kurt can't help the smile that spreads across his face at the offer. The only thing that might give his sexuality away is his voice, and Blaine seems to have the presence of mind to ignore it, or at least to not care. Kurt might actually prefer if it were the latter. He extends his arm, hand reaching out, searching, waiting --
Blaine's hand finds his, slips in and holds tight, tugging forward. Kurt stumbles down the first few steps, fighting to keep up. “Follow him, Rolf,” he instructs breathlessly as Blaine leads him away. It takes a few moments of winding curves before Kurt feels like they're walking straight again, and at the change, Blaine's hand squeezes his a little tighter, reassuring. Kurt squeezes back, smiling warmly --
And then there's something new, something Kurt can't identify, assaulting his senses in rapid fire. It's akin to the way his fingers feel after he's been reading for too long, tingling and dull all at once; or the muffled sounds his ears feel submerged in water in the bath right before resurfacing, popping against the air. It's how his tongue glides slowly in his mouth after tasting something new, considering the flavors -- the way his nostrils expand when his dad removes a lid from a pot in the kitchen, smells wafting and permeating and causing Kurt's stomach to quiver in anticipation. There's an ache, a pain behind his eyes and in his brain. Gasping, Kurt squeezes his eyes shut and comes to an abrupt halt, legs almost tripping over Rolf.
“Kurt?” Blaine asks, stopping with him. “Are you okay?”
Kurt exhales through his nose, relaxing his eyes a little before he prepares to answer. He opens his eyes to be sure --
Kurt can see.
Kurt's jaw drops open a little, staring blankly at the hallway in front of him (he's staring). He can't control the way his breath heaves in his chest; he's fairly certain he's hyperventilating but he almost doesn't even care because he can see and none of his other senses matter right now. Slowly, he shifts his gaze, still adjusting to the brightness (and this is what bright looks like). At his side is Rolf, looking up at him, patient as ever. It'd been hard for him to picture what animals looked like without proper examples. Dogs feel so different than humans. He smiles down at his guide dog, grip relaxing on the handle of the harness. He moves his gaze up and to the side and --
There's someone staring at him and it's startling; instinctively, Kurt reaches a hand up to cover the gasp that threatens to escape his mouth. The person does the same, the exact same, and Kurt realizes that he's looking into a mirror, that he's looking at his own reflection --
This is what he looks like.
He has no basis for comparison, he has no idea if he looks like other boys, if he's wearing the right attire to be at Dalton --
Too fast, Kurt whips his head around to look at the voice addressing him.
Kurt's breath hitches in his chest. Blaine doesn't look anything like him, but there are similarities in his face, the Adam's apple of his throat, the broadness of his hand, still holding Kurt's. And Kurt doesn't even have the right words to describe how Blaine looks, or if Blaine is even considered attractive compared to other boys. But he's still holding Kurt's hand, and Kurt can't breathe.
He's in love with Blaine.
How the hell did that even happen? He just met Blaine two minutes ago, this doesn't even make any sense --
But it does, Kurt realizes. It's entirely possible that he just fell in love with Blaine without recognizing the emotion. He thinks of his dad and Carole, of Finn and Rachel. They all fell early, almost immediately.
Blaine squeezes his hand again and Kurt refocuses, eyes falling back to Blaine's face. “Kurt?” he prompts again, and Kurt can hear the concern in his voice, and understands too quickly what it means.
Blaine still can't see.
“I'm okay,” Kurt rushes to assure him. The muscles in Blaine's face relax, a small smile spreading there (and oh, that's what a smile looks like). Blaine turns away, much to Kurt's displeasure, and starts walking again, never letting go of Kurt's hand.
Kurt watches Blaine walk, sees how different it is from the way Rolf and Blaine's guide dog (Rufus?) walk, and as his eyes fall down to their joined hands, he almost stumbles again.
He knows why he's in love with Blaine.
Blaine can't even see him, but Blaine heard him, heard his voice and his plea for help. Blaine didn't need to see him to notice him. He isn't invisible to Blaine. It's the most refreshing and overwhelming sensation Kurt's felt in a while, possibly ever, and he's not quite sure how to deal with it.
There's a click as Blaine pushes open a set of doors (and Kurt vaguely notes that he's going to have to learn what shapes doors are, because they feel a little different than they look), leading Kurt inside. There are boys everywhere, clothes all clean, firm lines. Kurt can't tell what color they are, but he looks down at his own attire (and oh thank god, he can finally coordinate his own outfits now) and bites his lip nervously; his outfit isn't drastically different, but it's different enough that he's screwed if he runs into anyone who can actually see around here.
“If you'll excuse me,” Blaine quips before dropping Kurt's hand and letting Rufus guide him into the throng of boys in the center of the room. There's a low bum-bum-bum as they start to sing, and then one voice stands out among the rest, and Kurt is so, so glad he can see, because it's Blaine who's singing. Kurt sinks down onto a nearby chair (at least he thinks it's a chair; it feels like a chair), his knees unable to support him. If he hadn't fallen before, he definitely would've fallen now.
Desperate for a distraction, eager to put his eyes to use, Kurt glances around the room as the Warblers sing. It's a safe bet that most of the students here, like most of the students at McKinley, like most kids his age, can't see. But that doesn't seem to matter because the Warblers sound flawless, smooth and upbeat and engaging, and Kurt doesn't really blame the students for getting into it. He bites back a laugh as he watches them move; he's fairly certain he's witnessing dancing and none of it is something he could mimic with his body. But there's something else, something more here that is absent in the halls of McKinley, a sense of acceptance and belonging. Dalton seems to have it right -- sight doesn't matter here.
Kurt swallows thickly and shifts his attention -- and his gaze -- back to the Warblers, who are rounding out the chorus one last time. In unison, they spin on the balls of their feet (and holy shit, these guys must be good if they can coordinate a bunch of NSAs like that), turning back to face the entry way where Kurt sits as they sing, “Let's run away.”
Somehow, Blaine's eyes find his even though Blaine can't see, and the smile on Blaine's face grows a little wider on, “Don't ever look back.” Kurt grins, flustered, and wonders how long it'll be until Blaine can see him, too.
The Warblers end the song to the sound of thunderous applause from their peers. Kurt rises to his feet, hesitant, waiting, debating as the Warblers reach out for each other, hands reaching up to pat each other on the back (and Kurt gets why people do that, now, because it's more reminiscent of what a hug feels like). Blaine gets shuffled from one Warbler to another until finally, he's accidentally colliding with Kurt, hand gripping tightly at Kurt's arm first, and then drags down to his hand.
Blaine's hand fits into his again; Kurt looks down at their hands for a second before looking up into Blaine's face. He's met with Blaine's smile instantly, an emotion Kurt can't quite describe on his face but one that's oddly comforting just the same. It only takes one word for him to realize that Blaine recognizes him by touch alone: “Kurt.”
Kurt hesitates at the bottom of the basement stairs, Rolf sitting patiently next to him.
This is his room.
It's not the first place he'd gone when he got home; he'd rushed upstairs to his parents' room, opened all of the drawers so he could smell his mom's perfume, the scent familiar and comforting and nothing to do with his sight. But then something caught his eye on the nightstand next to the bed, an image of someone who didn't look like a boy or a man, who must've been a woman, and it took Kurt a lot longer than it should have to realize that the photograph he was staring at was of his mother.
He's still clutching it now, in his own room.
There's not a whole lot to it, to be honest; shape and arrangement attributes Kurt is familiar with by touch, but being able to see the place he spends his nights, the place he's grown up in and hid out in, is something else entirely. Slowly, Kurt makes his way across the room, Rolf pushing himself tiredly to his feet and padding after Kurt. Kurt's fingers reach out hesitantly, trembling as they drift over the surfaces of his dresser, his desk (so this is what wood looks like). He sets the picture frame down on his desk before he sinks to his knees at the bookshelf; his fingers dance across plastic titles, Braille accompanied by markings that Kurt knows are letters, words. He has to learn to read again.
By touch, he locates the film he's looking for and tugs it off of the shelf, eyes taking in the cover greedily, two-dimensional people frolicking on a hill (and Kurt knows what hills look like, now, instead of just knowing what they feel like by the burn in his calves). By memory, he moves to insert the disc inside into the DVD player (a combination of plastic and metal, reflecting brightly off of his irises, and why is everything so bright?).
He's in his pajamas quickly (sweatpants and an off-the-shoulder henley aren't exactly his favorites but they're his go-tos on days like this) and ready to burrow under the covers when he catches Rolf watching him curiously. Kurt kneels down and unfastens the harness, climbing into bed and patting the mattress next to him. “Up,” Kurt commands. Rolf hesitates, head cocked to the side. Kurt taps the mattress again. “Up, Rolf. Come up here with me.” Rolf does move this time, chin resting heavily on the edge of the bed as he struggles to lift his front legs to climb up on the bed. Kurt's heart aches watching his guide dog -- his friend, his eyes for the last ten years -- whine in pain, efforts futile due to age and aching limbs. It hasn't really registered with him until now that Rolf is old, twelve, now, and is starting to lose some of the skills that make him a functional guide dog. Kurt bites his lip, blinking back tears (and oh, he's going to have to try crying in front of a mirror soon, to see what that looks like). He bends over and tucks his arms under Rolf's torso, hoisting him up onto the bed. Rolf curls up into him immediately, head resting on Kurt's lap. Kurt's hands stroke the fur on Rolf's head, dry and worn and weathered.
Kurt's just at the shriek in reaction to a pine cone when the front door clicks shut, and shortly after, Burt's footsteps echo down the stairs. Kurt inhales sharply and keeps his eyes trained on the screen, quiet. Burt laughs once he reaches the bottom of the stairs. “Bad day?”
“Not really, no,” Kurt says with a shrug, unable to look over at his father just yet. He bites his lip hard as his dad sits next to him; out of the corner of his eyes, Kurt can see Burt's legs, bigger than his own, covered in denim. At least Kurt thinks it's denim. He'd have to touch it to be sure. “I skipped school today,” he adds conversationally.
“Really?” Burt says dryly. “Why?”
“I went to spy on our competition for Sectionals,” Kurt admits. “The Dalton Academy Warblers. It's an all-boys prep school out in Westerville.” He figures honesty is the best policy right now.
Burt snorts, shifting his legs, his hand dangling into view. “Spy... how, exactly? Don't tell me you're thinking of going MIA once you gain your sight. People in black ops don't exactly live glamorous lives, bud.”
“I wanted to see how they sound, thank you very much,” Kurt snaps back, eyes drifting and lingering on his dad's hand. Kurt has to resist the urge to reach out and hold it.
“They any good?” Burt asks, hand in view reaching over to scratch Rolf behind the ears.
“Very,” Kurt informs him. “Mission successful.”
“Yeah, well, all the same,” Burt adds, toeing off his work boots, “don't skip school again, okay?” Kurt hums in response and they sit in silence for a few moments, watching the film. “This has always been your favorite, you know that?”
“Yeah,” Kurt agrees with a grin. “I'm starting to get an idea why.”
“Oh yeah?” Burt questions with a laugh. “And why's that?”
“Rolf,” Kurt says simply. “I can totally see why I've always been drawn to him,” he explains subtly, leaning down and planting a kiss to the top of his dog's nose, the Rolf on screen smiling as he sings with Liesl, twirling and leaping about the gazebo (and wow, it's even more breathtaking than Kurt could've ever imagined).
“You've always had a theory that he was using Liesl as a beard,” Burt chuckles.
Rolf and Liesl make their last turn around the gazebo; Liesl starts to spin away again, but Rolf grabs her, tugs her in, and kisses her firmly on the lips. Kurt lets out a soft, “Oh,” at that, because it's the first time he's seen anyone kissing. He knows what kissing involves, in theory. He knows the sounds, has listened to enough film and television to usually gather when it's happening. But this, this is... This is what he's waiting for. This is what will, hopefully, turn his world into technicolor. And if it makes him feel a fraction of what Liesl is currently feeling...
“You were always scared of storms, as a kid,” Burt adds as Maria closes the windows to her bedroom against the rain (and oh, it hasn't rained yet; Kurt can't wait to see what real rain is like outside of just wet).
“Rolf would always let me hold him,” Kurt reflects, fingers still tracing idly over the fur. Gretel comes bursting into the room on the television, and then Louisa and Brigitta and Margaret. It's not until the boys follow a moment later, though, that Kurt reacts. It's been a while since his namesake was on the screen, a freakishly accurate representation of the reflection Kurt had caught in the mirrors at Dalton. “I think I get why Mom named me after Kurt,” he muses as Maria explains storms to the children.
“Yeah,” Kurt says quietly. “We look a lot alike.”
“Yeah,” Burt laughs, “you do.” Kurt turns his head sideways, just barely, and waits. He can feel his father tense next to him, and then Burt's fingers are sliding over Kurt's, rough and hesitant and warm. “Kurt?”
Kurt hesitates for the space of a second and then, very slowly, turns and lifts his head, looking at his father's face for the first time. “Dad,” he breathes.
Burt's jaw drops open a little and Kurt takes advantage of the silence to just look at his dad, to match what his hands have felt for years with what his eyes are seeing now. Burt's face is a little rounder than his own, skin less bright and full of imperfections. It takes a fraction of a second for a smile to spread across Burt's face (and that smile), and then there are tears falling from his eyes (and Kurt knows what people look like when they cry, now). “Don't --” Kurt starts, reaching out to brush the tears from his dad's face.
“You --” Burt starts, clamping his mouth shut and shuddering slightly, hand reaching out and running a thumb across the apple of Kurt's cheek. “You can see.” Kurt nods, jaw trembling, and Burt lets out a noise somewhere between a laugh and a sob. “When?”
“Today,” Kurt laughs softly, tears falling down his own face now, “when I went --”
“To Westerville,” Burt finishes, smile faltering a little. “I -- Dalton? You met one of the fancy prep school kids?” Kurt knows what his dad's avoiding saying, but it doesn't change the truth of it. “What --” Burt stops, clearing his throat. “What's his name?”
Kurt smiles at him. “Blaine.”
“Blaine,” Burt echos, the name buzzing on his lips. He blinks a few times before refocusing his gaze on his son. “Kurt, you're only seventeen --”
“I couldn't help it,” Kurt defends, recoiling a little. “It's not like I chose it. Well, okay, I'm definitely drawn to him, but I didn't know I was going to --”
“I know, I know,” Burt placates with a sigh. “I just -- I didn't get my sight until I was twenty-two, you know? Third date with your mom.” Kurt nods; he's heard the story too many times to count. “Can I meet him?” Burt asks after a moment.
“I just met him,” Kurt laughs.
Burt shrugs. “Love at first sight, right?”
The corner of Kurt's mouth twitches upwards as My Favorite Things comes to a close. “Yeah, I guess so.”
“Boo!” Kurt greets, tapping Rachel on the shoulder.
Rachel jumps about a foot in the air and spins around at the concession bar, eyes searching for the offender. Her whole body relaxes, though, when she sees Kurt. “Kurt!” she exclaims, throwing her arms around his neck. He laughs into her hair and clings to her tightly; sometimes he forgets that Rachel is one of few people who really understands what he's going through. Rachel pulls away, tugging Kurt along to sit with her on a pair of bar stools. “How are you?” she pries. “How's Dalton? How are your lessons with OSA? How --” Rachel pauses, grinning and lowering her voice. “How's Blaine?”
“Good,” Kurt admits. “Dalton is really great. The classes are harder but the kids are kinder.” Rachel offers him a sad smile. “Lessons with the OSA are amazing, Rachel. It's -- I can finally see the fashion I've been dreaming about. And by the way,” he adds, narrowing his eyes at her, “you are so lucky I'm not at McKinley right now.”
“Warblers that good?” Rachel teases playfully.
“You'll see,” Kurt says cryptically, grinning. “But no, I'm talking about the time I don't have to go over to your house after school, rifle through your closet, and burn all of your animal sweaters. I mean, seriously, Rachel, what were you thinking?”
Rachel's jaw drops open a little. “Leave my sweaters alone,” she sniffs, pushing Kurt's knee.
“No,” Kurt throws back, grinning. “Those sweaters are a crime against humanity.”
“Put your sight to better use,” Rachel deadpans, “and tell me about Blaine. Can he see yet?”
Kurt smiles in spite of himself and shakes his head. “No,” he admits sadly. “But we've only known each other a month. He needs time --”
“That's not true and you know it,” Rachel argues. “Look at me and Finn, look at your parents.”
“How is Finn?” Kurt asks, deflecting. “I live with him and have barely spoken ten words to him since the wedding.”
Rachel's face falls, her lips pursing. “I'd ask Santana,” she snaps coldly, “since she seems to know more about him than I do. Did you know he had sex with her last spring?” she hisses.
“Wait, you didn't know about that?” Kurt asks, confused.
Rachel groans, resting her forehead against the bar. “Why did everyone but me know about this?”
“So wait, are you still together?”
“Yes,” Rachel sighs. “But things are... difficult between us right now.” She inhales sharply and shakes her head, gathering herself. “Is Dalton really that good for you?” she inquires, changing the subject.
The corner of Kurt's mouth twitches upward into an almost smile. “Yeah, it is. It's -- between OSA and Dalton and Blaine, I'm learning a lot. I'm learning to fit in.”
“That's something we're not very good at,” Rachel admits. “But is it really so bad, wanting to stand out, to be a star?”
“No,” Kurt allows. “But... It's just different, Rachel. I'm learning to be part of a team. I still get to be myself, but... It's not just about me anymore. I can see, Rachel. I'm learning so I can help people, people who can't.”
“People like Blaine?” Rachel ventures good-naturedly.
“Yes,” Kurt admits, a heat flooding his cheeks. “I can walk with him to classes and practice without Rolf or Rufus, I can --”
“Spend more time with him so he'll finally open his eyes and fall in love with you?” Rachel tacks on.
Kurt shifts uncomfortably on the bar stool. “You're making it sound like I'm trying to orchestrate the whole thing and I'm not.”
“I know,” Rachel assures him softly, reaching out for his hand. “Kurt, listen to me. Just... trust your sight, okay? Believe in love.”
“What are you talking about?” Kurt laughs.
“After Finn broke up with Quinn last year, he was afraid to be with me, and it was because he didn't trust what he saw, didn't trust how he felt,” Rachel explains. “He was afraid he was being forced into it, that he didn't have a choice. That's not true, Kurt.”
“I don't know what you're trying to --” Kurt starts.
“People gain their sight when they fall in love for a reason, Kurt. You have to learn to trust, to believe in what you can't see. It's why people believe in God.”
“But I don't believe in God, Rachel,” Kurt reminds her.
“I'm just saying it's the same idea,” Rachel dismisses. “You don't have to believe in God, Kurt, but please, please believe in love. We don't fall in love with just anyone.” She hesitates for a moment, and then says, “Blaine...”
“Blaine,” Kurt sighs happily.
“No, Blaine,” Rachel hisses, nodding toward an area of the lobby behind Kurt. Kurt whips around in his seat to find Blaine standing alone in the crowd, Rufus at his side. Kurt calls out to them and waits as Rufus leads Blaine over to where Kurt and Rachel are sitting.
“Hi Blaine,” Rachel offers cheerfully, earning her a glare from Kurt. “I'm Kurt's friend Rachel.”
Blaine grins, offering out his hand and waiting for Rachel to take it. The handshake is firm and quick, broken as Blaine turns in Kurt's direction. “Kurt?”
“Right here,” Kurt says faintly, placing a gentle hand on Blaine's elbow.
“We should get backstage. We're on soon. Good luck, Rachel,” Blaine offers kindly. Slowly, he turns, one hand gripping the handle of Rufus' harness, the other relaxed as Kurt clings to his elbow. Kurt catches Rachel grinning madly at him as they start to leave.
“Blaine, wait, hang on a second.” Kurt barely has time to watch Blaine's brow furrow in confusion before he turns around, rushing back to Rachel and leaning close. “Rachel, you're still with Finn.”
“Yes,” she says slowly, shoulders falling, but her curiosity is peaked enough to not let it get to her too much.
“Can you do me a favor?” Kurt asks.
“I'm not giving you our set list for Sectionals,” Rachel laughs. “You're going to find out in like a half hour anyway.”
“No, not that,” Kurt says distractedly.
“And I'm not going easy on you, either --”
“Rachel,” Kurt groans. “It's not about the competition.”
“Okay, then what is it?”
Kurt hesitates for a second before taking the plunge, putting more stock in Rachel's words than he ever thought he would. “What color are Blaine's eyes?” he murmurs.
Rachel blinks, surprise evident on her face (and that's a first for Kurt, pairing 'surprise' with a facial expression). “Why?”
Kurt smiles a little, embarrassed. “For future reference,” he admits, laughing a little.
Rachel grins at him and then glances over his shoulder to where Blaine is standing, waiting in his dark. “Hazel,” Rachel says finally. “It's a shade of brown.”
“Hazel,” Kurt echos. He squeezes her hand once and waves, grasping Blaine's elbow again and leading him backstage.
He can hardly wait to see in color.
Kurt's head is swimming. The last few months have been too much for him to cope with and the really ridiculous part of it all is that it doesn't even have all that much to do with his sight. The registration, the lessons, everything new that wasn't available to him before but is now -- those things haven't been difficult to adjust to. Suddenly, relationships are that much more difficult for him. It's getting to the point where he's exhausted even just talking to people. There's a part of him that wishes he were deaf instead of blind; somehow, that seems easier, less fraught with complications.
He looks at his dad and Carole and sees how easy it is, how much more level the playing field is when both parties can see, when they can see in color. It's probably the healthiest relationship Kurt has the opportunity to witness, and the fact that he can witness it, see it with his own eyes, makes a world of difference. He remembers what it was like to sit with his dad after the heart attack, the way he had to ask if his dad was following the new diet regimen. With Carole, it's so much easier. Kurt spends half of his nights at the kitchen table doing homework just so he can watch them. Burt will reach for the salt shaker and Carole will bat his hand away. He'll go to the freezer for a secret stash of chocolate ice cream and she'll push the door shut with her palm, leaning against it and glaring up at him. And always, always, Carole is met with the same exasperated smile, the same one she returns, and then Burt is kissing her against the refrigerator door and Kurt tactfully retires upstairs.
But Kurt has plenty of examples of how disastrous, how harmful sight can actually be. Finn and Rachel are the perfect example, because in two and a half years, Kurt's almost lost track of how many times they've broken up and gotten back together, how many times their eyes have had to make the transition from black and white to color and back. It puzzles him, but more than anything, it frustrates him; for so long, they've both played such a crucial role in teaching him about sight and love, about what it means to love and see and be able to choose. It'd been their words he'd relied on after Valentine's Day, after he'd told Blaine how he felt. It was the one time Kurt had been grateful that Blaine couldn't see, because he knows he'd failed at schooling his face into resembling anything other than ache and hurt and longing. Since Kurt had gained his sight, he'd wanted nothing more than to be with Blaine, not so he could see in color, but just to be with Blaine, just to have Blaine finally, really see him. It's this, this longing that confuses Kurt the most; he doesn't understand why Finn's back together with Quinn, and he doesn't understand why Rachel had been so aggressive in throwing herself at Blaine last weekend.
Kurt's jaw tightens as he thinks about them kissing in front of his face, Rachel knowing full well even in her inebriated state that he could see them and how that made it ten times worse. Inhaling sharply, he tries to shrug it off and picks up two cups of coffee, joining Blaine at their regular table in the Lima Bean table as Blaine hangs up his phone, laughing. “Medium drip,” Kurt announces, pressing the paper cup into Blaine's hand.
“Thanks,” Blaine laughs, taking a sip and setting the cup down on the table. “Rachel just asked me out.”
Kurt snorts with laughter, taking his seat across the table. “That's amazing,” he huffs out. “She's got a girl crush on you.”
Kurt watches as hesitation starts to creep into the lines on Blaine's face, and it's very, very quiet before Blaine says, “I... said yes.”
Kurt's brow wrinkles a little and he tries to ignore the unpleasant way his stomach clenches. “Wait, what? Why?”
Blaine shifts awkwardly in his chair, fingers toying with the lid of his cup. “I don't know... When we kissed, it -- it felt good.”
“It felt good because you were drunk,” Kurt explains slowly. He honestly cannot believe what he's hearing. He can't believe that Rachel would do this to him, for one (okay, well, a small part of him can, but really, he thought they were better friends than this), but he also doesn't understand why Blaine is taking a chance on her, on a girl, when he knows that Kurt can see. Kurt has given every implication that he can see because of Blaine. Even Jeremiah was better than this, because at least he was a boy and Kurt had no clue who he was. This hurts so much more; Rachel is supposed to be his friend.
“...I don't know, maybe I'm bi,” Blaine suggests, clearly at the end of a very long-winded explanation.
Kurt takes a deep breath, trying to remain calm. “Okay, identity crisis aside, you do know that Rachel can see, Blaine, right? That I can see?”
“Yes,” Blaine snaps, obviously annoyed. “I thought we went over this. I thought you were going to give me time to make my own decisions. I thought you understood why I didn't want to screw this up. You're supposed to be my friend.”
And that, that hurts, because Kurt's feeling that exact same emotion about Rachel right now. But it also hurts because he isn't meant to be just Blaine's friend. And he can't figure out how to make Blaine see that without forcing him into it, which he promised he wouldn't do. He doesn't want to do it. He wants Blaine to fall in love with him of his own accord. “Rachel can see because of Finn,” he says calmly. “I'm just trying to save you some time, some --”
“But I want the time,” Blaine interjects quickly. “I want to be allowed to feel the way I do. I don't want to be told it's wrong. You know what that's like.”
Kurt's heart sinks a little. “Yeah,” he admits quietly. “I do.”
“Then why can't you just support me on this?” Blaine asks, exasperated. “I'm... searching. And for you, of all people, to get down on me for that? I didn't think that's who you were.” He huffs out in frustration and pushes the coffee cup away, fingers reaching out for the handle of Rufus' harness. His jaw is tight as he addresses Kurt. “I'll see you later.”
Kurt lets the tears fall as he watches Blaine's retreating figure, because Blaine has no idea of the promise he just made: I'll see you later. Part of him wants to scream after Blaine, to take Blaine's head in his hands and force Blaine to just look at him. He wants to take Blaine -- a searching, desperate, lost, lonely Blaine -- and say, “I'm right here. You don't have to look anywhere else. I'm right here.” But it doesn't work that way. Blaine will only see when he falls in love with Kurt, and right now, it seems like he's just afraid to let it happen. Kurt doesn't know what to do to reassure Blaine, to encourage him, to make him learn the lesson that he's finally starting to grasp: trust what you feel, and sight will come with it. There's nothing he can do.
He has to wait for Blaine to find him.
Rolf is gone.
It hurts more than it should. Dogs don't live as long as humans. Rolf's been with him since the age of six, more than a decade. It was going to happen sooner rather than later. Kurt's lucky, really, that he gained his sight before Rolf died, that he had time to adjust to it. Kurt has a feeling that Rolf's been slowly letting go, relinquishing control upon the understanding that Kurt can see, that he can take care of himself, that soon, he'll have Blaine. Kurt's only regret is that Blaine didn't gain his sight before Rolf died. It would've made the sting hurt a little less.
Kurt sighs as his fingers ghost over black and white, over different shades of gray. He wants to decorate Rolf's collar as a memorial, wants to make it beautiful, but he's too hung up on whether or not the colors will complement each other, and there's no way for him to know for sure because he can't see in color. It's why he fills his life with music, because he didn't need his sight -- color or not -- to hear, to sing, to feel. It's too personal to ask someone else to help him.
Blaine strides into the room quietly, a small smile playing at his lips when Kurt greets him to let him know who's in the room. Blaine grips the back of the chair next to Kurt for a moment before sinking down in it, fingers reaching out to toy with the jewels scattered on the table. “What's that?” he laughs.
“I'm decorating Rolf's collar,” Kurt sighs, setting the bottle of glue down and sinking back into the chair.
“With what?” Blaine inquires, laugh still lingering in his voice.
“Jewels,” Kurt placates, deciding to indulge Blaine. “I'm thinking about taking a break from it, though. Did you want to practice?”
“If you want,” Blaine shrugs. “I don't mind helping you finish this.”
Kurt snorts out a laugh. “I don't think you're going to be much help, Blaine,” he says gently. “Maybe you can apply the glue, but that's about it.”
Blaine's fingers reach out and close around the bottle with ease. Kurt watches out of the corner of his eye as the work in silence, Kurt arranging the pieces on the collar as Blaine squeezes glue from the bottle. After a few moments, though, Blaine reaches out and pries the tweezers from Kurt's fingers, delicately picking up one of the smaller jewels and placing it over the hole directly above the name tag that dangles from the collar.
Kurt's chest tightens and he can't breathe. Slowly, he lifts his head and meets Blaine's gaze -- “You can see,” Kurt breathes. And for one, wild minute, Kurt thinks of Jeremiah, of the horribly agonizing thought that Blaine has fallen in love with someone else...
But then he realizes that if Blaine can see, it has to be because of Kurt. It has to be. There's no way around that. “When?” Kurt asks, swallowing thickly.
“Yesterday,” Blaine admits sheepishly, setting the tweezers down on the table and fidgeting uncomfortably.
“That's -- wow. So that's -- that's why Rufus isn't with you,” Kurt reasons, glancing around the room. “But you don't have an official with you, you should be at lessons. Why haven't you reported it? You've only got two more days before --”
“Kurt,” Blaine cuts in, reaching out to cover Kurt's hand with his own. “Can we just -- can we not talk about the social politics behind this? It's incredibly unromantic.”
“Says Mr. 'I'm not very good at romance,'” Kurt teases, and oh my god, what is he even saying? “When?” he asks again, trying to reign himself in. “When specifically?”
Blaine softens a little. “Edelweiss,” he says quietly, and Kurt is fairly certain that he's going to faint because Blaine fell in love with his voice -- “I've never heard you sing like that before.”
“Like what, exactly?” Kurt prompts carefully. “You've heard me sing before --”
“Not like this,” Blaine counters, shaking his head. “It's -- I could feel you feeling.” His eyes flicker up to meet Kurt's for the briefest of seconds (Blaine is looking at him, Blaine is looking at him) before he adds, stammering, “Y -- you move me, Kurt.”
And stupidly, all Kurt can think about is Finn and Rachel. He knows they're meant to be together, he knows that. He knows that they can see because they're in love with each other, he knows they can see in color when they're not broken up. But all he can think about is Rachel telling Kurt about when she fell in love with Finn, when she could see for the first time. He told me that when I sang, I touched something in him, Rachel had said. Right... here, she'd added, moving Kurt's hand to his chest, directly over his heart.
It's too much, too much too soon, which is really selfish of him because he's been able to see for months and months and Blaine's only been able to see for a day. But Kurt can't help it, and his gaze falls to his lap as he exhales shakily, trying to collect himself.
Blaine reaches out and hooks a set of fingers under Kurt's chin, forcing Kurt to meet his gaze. He hesitates for the space of a second, and then leans in --
Kurt's senses positively explode when Blaine's lips touch his own. Suddenly, it doesn't matter that he's been able to see for months because all of his other senses are still finely tuned, still far more acute and aware than his sight, and it's these that he relies on, these that he uses to remember what it's like while Blaine is kissing him.
Blaine is kissing him.
Blaine smells clean and tastes like mint; Kurt can hear every sharp inhale of breath Blaine takes through his nose, every short and shaky exhale, every muffled noise against Kurt's lips that might be a whine or a moan. Kurt reaches up a hand tentatively, fingers dancing lightly over Blaine's jaw, meeting a slight stubble. And then Kurt realizes that he can feel with his lips too, and Blaine's lips are soft and warm and wet against his, plump and moving and reacting and kissing Kurt.
He's not sure which one of them breaks the kiss, but it's over too soon and every single pore on Kurt's body is vibrating, his skin shaking like he's cold but he's not, he's so warm. His eyes flutter open slowly at the same time Blaine's do, and before Blaine can pull away, their eyes meet, heavy and lidded --
“Hazel,” Kurt says breathlessly, refusing to remove his fingers from Blaine's jaw.
“What?” Blaine huffs out, brow furrowing, his fingers falling from Kurt's chin. His jaw is still hanging open a little though, gaping at Kurt.
“Hazel,” Kurt repeats, and he can't help but laugh. “I -- at Sectionals, I asked Rachel what color your eyes were.”
“What color my eyes --” Blaine starts, and then his mouth snaps shut as he realizes the implication and he blinks, keeping his gaze trained steadfastly on Kurt. “Oh,” he says lamely. “Color. This -- this is --”
“Color,” Kurt affirms, unable to tear his eyes away from hazel, hazel, hazel.
Blaine's quiet for a moment before venturing, “That's not fair. I don't know what color your eyes are.”
Kurt laughs again, he can't help it. “You didn't even know what eyes looked like until yesterday,” he points out. “You didn't even know what I looked like.”
“I do now,” Blaine counters, biting his lip to fight back the grin that plays there. “I don't have the right words to describe you either.”
“You'll learn,” Kurt assures him. “That's what the lessons are for, to help you adjust, to give names to all of the new things you're experiencing.”
“Does it have to be based on how you look?” Blaine asks, fingers twitching on top of Kurt's. “Can't I just describe how the way you look makes me feel? How you make me feel?”
“I suppose,” Kurt ventures, nose wrinkling. “What --”
He's silenced as Blaine leans in again, thumb running against Kurt's bottom lip. Kurt's breath hitches in his chest, and Blaine finally smiles. “There,” Blaine says quietly, nodding towards Kurt's lips. “That's how you make me feel. You take my breath away.” All of the air leaves Kurt in one fell swoop as he exhales and returns the smile, reveling in the feel of Blaine's hand, his fingertips when Blaine moves his hand to cup Kurt's jaw and hazel, hazel, hazel. “What color are your eyes?” Blaine murmurs, leaning a little closer.
“I'm not sure,” Kurt admits, and seriously, he's going to get light-headed if Blaine keeps doing this to him. “My mother always said they were a very precise color, but my dad's always said the easiest way to describe them is blue.”
“Blue,” Blaine echos, mumbling the word as his thumb strokes up and over the apple of Kurt's cheek. “I like color,” he says finally. “I like the way it makes me feel.”
“Kiss me again?” Kurt pleads. “I promise you'll still be able to see me.”
Blaine obliges again almost immediately, foot hooking with the leg of his chair to scoot closer to Kurt as their lips fall together again. When they break apart, Kurt's eyes don't search for shapes and masses, for Blaine's face or his body. They lock instantly on hazel, hazel, hazel, and he reaches up to grip at Blaine's wrist tightly, anchoring himself there. “Oh, there you are,” Blaine breathes. “I've been looking for you forever.”