It’s July, and the dog days of summer have officially arrived on the island of Manhattan. Everything is hot and sticky and just finding a space to plant your body on the subway is a taxing affair.
Kurt finds himself almost unconsciously making excuses to spend as much time away from the loft, and Bushwick as possible. He lingers with coworkers at the diner after his shift ends. He goes in early, and spends a lot of time in empty NYADA practice rooms rehearsing, and not rehearsing - scrolling mindlessly through his phone, reading Broadway blogs and fashion headlines.
He is at least peripherally aware that he’s running away - that he’s throwing himself and his time at things that in the long run, are not very important, and that this is not making anything any easier.
But there's stress and tension, and every day seems to build on the one before. There’s something close to resentment growing inside of him. Kurt remembers having felt this way towards his father, years ago, when he felt misunderstood and misrepresented - when it seemed like no matter what he did, there just wasn’t any way to close the gap with this person that he loved more than anything. Kurt isn’t sure what it means that he’s feeling this way now. He’s tired though – of feeling like he’s failing, just a little more, every day.
The days keep passing anyway.
It starts out as an idle thought on his way home one night – there’s a new coffee shop over on 10th Avenue that he’s been curious about, and Kurt wonders what would happen if he just stopped in one night without a second thought, if he stopped in and just sat there for an hour or two, without wondering if he’d make the last express train to Brooklyn, without wondering if Blaine was home yet, if he’d be waiting up… Kurt wonders what would happen if he could just make a decision to do something, even something simple like this, and just do it. He wonders if the city, if the world would open up to him, maybe, and become something different, too – if maybe it would change, just like that.
The thought keeps coming back, creeping in when he’s out on his own, on the subway, or walking down 8th Avenue as the city bustles around him. It forces him to wonder what it would be like, to be something else, someone different.
It’s late, after eleven, and Kurt is standing in the kitchen next to the refrigerator, waiting for Blaine to say something. The a/c unit whirs along in the background, and there's sweat drying on his forehead from climbing the stairs. In the end, he’d rushed; he’d run up three sets of stairs from underground, and had briskly covered the distance between the subway and the apartment, despite the heat. He wonders if his cheeks are still red.
Blaine is sitting at the table with his laptop open. His face is completely still when he looks up at Kurt, eyes searching his face.
“I’m not saying you have to account for every second you’re gone,” Blaine says, and his voice sounds tired, and a little guarded. “I just wish you’d texted me. I was worried.”
Kurt knows he should have texted Blaine. They’d had a date, of sorts, a let me know when you’re on your way home – I’ll start dinner, and we’ll watch a movie kind of date, and not a date where he’d left Blaine waiting somewhere for him, but still. He knew that Blaine had been waiting all the same.
And sure, he could have forgotten, could have lost track of time in one of the rehearsal rooms, but he also knows that this isn’t what had happened.
Kurt knows he should apologize, that he owes at least this much to Blaine.
Instead, he says, “I don’t know, Blaine – sometimes I just want to be able to go out, on my own…”
He watches Blaine’s face fall – hurt feelings flashing across his face.
“I mean with myself, Blaine,” Kurt says quickly, guilt seeping in where it’d been cut off before. “Sometimes I want to just-- I don’t know, go to a coffee shop, or--or a bookstore. By myself.”
Blaine lets out a breath. “Since when do you frequent bookstores?”
“I just mean--” Kurt feels deflated, suddenly, feels like an idiot. “I don’t know what I mean. Just forget it.”
“Kurt, you can still do those things,” Blaine says, and his voice is earnest, so well-meaning it makes Kurt’s chest ache. “You can do anything you want – I’m not stopping you.”
And suddenly Kurt is very much not deflated, he feels a surge of unexpected emotion in his chest, inexplicable, and completely overwhelming. Blaine’s eyes are dark and searching, as Kurt sinks into the chair across from him.
“I know you’re not stopping me. It’s—It’s me.”
“What do you mean?”
“I could,” Kurt says, voice rising. “I could do those things, sure. But I don’t. I won’t.”
Blaine stares at Kurt for a long moment, and then stretches his hand across the table, brushes his fingers over Kurt’s knuckles tentatively for a second until Kurt looks at him.
“What’s wrong, Kurt? Is this about the wedding, because I--”
Kurt shakes his head. Blaine’s hand is still so close – he can feel it, even though they’re not touching.
“I won’t,” he says, glancing at Blaine, who is watching him with intent, and affection, and Kurt just isn’t sure anymore if he deserves any of it, and he hates doubting that, more than anything.
“I won’t do any of those things,” he says. “Because I’d rather come home to you – I’d rather come home and sit on the couch and have dinner with you and watch TV with you than do anything else. Wanting to do that, it—it stops me from—I don’t know. It just stops me.”
“From going to a coffee shop?”
“Yes,” Kurt says quietly.
“Or a bookstore.”
Blaine stares at him until Kurt looks up, meets his eyes.
“And that’s what’s wrong?”
Kurt lets out a long breath. “Maybe. I don’t know.”
Kurt is aware of the fact that this probably doesn’t make any sense to Blaine. He knows he’s been all over the place lately. He can’t explain why he didn’t text Blaine tonight any more than he can explain anything he’s been feeling lately.
“It didn’t stop you tonight though,” Blaine says. It's somewhere between a question and something else.
“No,” Kurt says quietly.
“I really don’t want to fight about this,” Blaine says, after another moment. He shakes his head. “But a week ago, you told me you were lonely, and now you’re telling me you want more time alone. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with that.”
Kurt feels a familiar sense of anxiety rising to the surface. “I’m not asking you to do anything with it, Blaine.”
“Well, that,” Blaine says, his voice breathless and angry, now. “That’s just not up to you, Kurt.”
Kurt has no idea what to say to that. He knows Blaine is right – they’re in this together, of course he’s going to want to try to fix this. Blaine is just staring at him, looking a bit like he doesn’t recognize him. Well, that makes two of us, Kurt thinks. He has the distinct feeling of wanting to crawl out of his own skin.
“I’m sorry,” Kurt says, finally, but he’s not sure that it sounds like he means it. “Blaine, I’m sorry. I should have texted you.”
Blaine just nods, and his eyes flicker up to meet Kurt’s, but there’s just too much going on there for Kurt to really take in, just now - he has to look away, has to start moving towards somewhere Blaine isn’t.
He settles on the bathroom, and the shower, and as lukewarm water rolls over his skin, he wonders if maybe he’s going a little crazy. Because the thing is, what happened tonight – he has no explanation other than the fact that lately, he’s started imagining himself as something other than this – as someone other than Blaine’s fiancé.
In a universe outside of this one, where there isn’t a barely thrown together, way-too-rushed-to-be-perfect wedding in their future – in that world he’s just himself. He’s just Kurt Hummel, and he’s not running away from anything or hurting anyone, he just exists. He sits in coffee shops and reads and sketches designs on napkins and doesn't worry about how late it’s getting, or what it means that he doesn't want to get on the subway back to Brooklyn.
It’s not really that he wants something else, or to be someone different, but… There’s something liberating about imagining himself completely unfettered – floating through the streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn, bound by nothing, by no one - weightless, and free.
He doesn’t feel very free tonight though. Tonight he feels an overwhelming sense of guilt, and every time he closes his eyes he sees Blaine’s face after he slid the door open tonight – because at first, before Blaine had been confused and angry and hurt, he’d just been relieved, Kurt could see it on his face. There's nothing freeing at all about this feeling that he's carrying around - because in this universe, Kurt is fairly certain that he's hurting the person he loves for no good reason, over and over.
Every day, it seems like things feel a little more frantic, a little less within his control than they did the day before. He can’t talk to Blaine because Blaine is already stressed out about all of the same things, and he just can’t imagine how that conversation would go, how it would start; he can’t come up with any of the right words to talk about anything anymore.
They fight instead – not about important things, not about Kurt spending day after twelve-hour-day in the city, or about the wedding, or their quickly-encroaching future, but about almost comically unimportant things: whose turn it is to take out the garbage, which grocery store has the best organic produce. Kurt hadn’t realized it was physically possible to keep an argument going for over an hour about any of these things that clearly mean nothing at all, but lots of things surprise him now.
Nothing is like Kurt imagined it would be. Everything is a mess, literally - there’s dust a quarter of an inch thick on the bookshelf, and he has no idea when the apartment has last been vacuumed. Their cleaning regimen has been outright ignored lately.
And even though usually Kurt wouldn’t even entertain the thought of spending time in a less than pristine living space, every day he finds himself just glancing at it - the dust, the clutter, the dishes in the sink, and thinks later, tomorrow, over the weekend and before he knows it, tomorrow has come and gone, and nothing has changed.
Kurt blinks in the darkness. Blaine’s side of the bed is empty. He’s not sure what exactly it is that woke him up, but past the curtain that that they’d left up after Rachel left, he can see that Blaine has one of the smaller lights on in the living room. He lies there for a few minutes, listening to the sound of Blaine’s fingers, typing away on his laptop. There’s the occasional flip of pages, too.
There’s a lump in Kurt’s throat that feels like it’s been there for weeks. He swallows past it now, but it’s not easy. Nothing feels easy anymore, including sleep. Kurt thinks about taking an Ambien, but it’s already two in the morning, and he needs to be up by seven. Even if he takes half, he’ll be way too groggy to function.
More flipped pages, more typing. There’s a wedding magazine that’s been sitting on the kitchen table for the past week and a half. Kurt is sure it weighs at least five pounds. He’s probably moved it back and forth a half a dozen times by now. Once he tried opening it, but didn’t get past the cover page.
He knows he should be out there with Blaine. He planned his father’s wedding when he was in high school. He’s planned countless fictitious weddings in his head over the years, including his wedding with Blaine - more than once, actually. Kurt loves weddings.
He finds his slippers under the bed, and ventures out into the living room.
Blaine looks surprised to see him, which makes sense, considering that he’s been sneaking out here every night for the past week, and Kurt has never gotten out of bed before.
There’s an open bottle of wine on the coffee table next to Blaine’s wedding planner – a notebook that lately has been looking a little worse for wear. Kurt hasn’t really looked at it, other than to admire the color-coded tabs, and neat rows of handwriting. He imagines swatches of color inside the pages, flower schemes and tablecloth designs.
The wine had been Rachel’s, a gift from some producer, if he remembers correctly. Blaine offers to get him a glass, which Kurt politely declines.
Kurt hates having to employ politeness around Blaine. It makes him feel fake, and superior.
It’s so quiet in the apartment at this hour. Kurt listens, and there’s just nothing, no street noise, no neighbors, nothing. It's as if they’ve been deposited in some vacuum, just floating around in space.
Blaine leans over his laptop to pour himself another glass of Rachel’s wine, and Kurt stares at his back, trying to think of something to say.
“What are you working on?” is what he settles on.
“Right now,” Blaine says, without turning around, “I’m trying to put together a menu for the rehearsal dinner.”
“How’s it going?”
Blaine takes a long, deliberate breath. “Fine, Kurt. It’s going fine. Everything’s going fine. That’s why I’m sitting here drinking wine by myself at two in the morning, because it’s all going really smoothly.”
Kurt is surprised, but he’s not sure why - he set himself up for this, really.
"Sorry," Blaine says a second later, shaking his head. "I think I've been staring at this stuff for too long..."
“You don’t have to do all this, you know,” Kurt says after a moment. Blaine turns around, and actually looks at Kurt for the first time since he's come out of the bedroom. He looks worn out - exhausted, really.
Kurt joins him on the floor, squeezes his shoulder and allows himself to focus for just a moment on the contact, on the warmth of Blaine’s skin underneath the thin layer of cotton.
And then Blaine says, “I do have to do all this. It was my idea, remember.”
Kurt has no idea how they’ve slipped into these roles – but he hates them. He hates seeing Blaine hunched over his laptop, stressed out, almost as much as he hates seeing himself so idle when it comes to this. But it’s not like he can just jump in now, not with Blaine looking at him like this, and this lump in his throat and this feeling in his heart that tells him it’s too late, that he can't redeem himself when it comes to this, not anymore.
“You don’t understand,” Blaine is saying. "Everything is pretty much booked already. Unless we want to settle for--”
“Blaine, I know how weddings work, okay! I did half of this stuff on my own when I was in high school for my dad and Carole!”
Blaine takes a long shuddering breath that scares Kurt a little, because while he knows what it means, knows that Blaine is stressed, and upset, and that he’s not helping – for once, he’s not sure how to fix it. He doesn’t think he can. It’s his fault, after all.
“I know, Kurt,” Blaine says finally. “I know.”
The look on his face makes Kurt’s stomach churn. He never meant for Blaine to feel like this, certainly not about their wedding. He has no idea what to say.
He takes in the piles of papers, the wine, the dog-eared planning book, the wedding magazines, and Blaine’s exhausted, unhappy expression. It doesn’t mean what it should, any of it. He doesn’t feel the way he should. Mostly, he just feels hollowed out, empty, and tired. From the look on Blaine’s face, they have that in common, at least.
In another universe, this would be the point in which another version of himself, a braver version, a more honest version, would turn to Blaine and explain everything – even the thoughts in his head that he can’t make sense of, that he doesn’t understand yet. He would just tell Blaine – that he’s scared, that he’s worried, that he’s never reacted quite like this to anything before, that usually he’s the type to jump right in and examine the things he’s afraid of and to dominate them, but for some reason he’s running away from this. He’s shutting down and he’s lashing out and he knows it’s not fair, and that it’s only making things worse, but in a weird way he thinks maybe he’s reacting like this because it’s so important. Their wedding is so important – they are so important, this thing that they’ve built, that they’re building, now.
He would apologize, for making Blaine feel this way, for not being here, for not being at his best, for not being honest. For imagining his life alone, without this, for thinking even for a second that he’d prefer it like that. He would tell Blaine that he never meant for it to end up like this. And then… then Kurt isn’t really sure what would happen, and that’s as far as he gets, because in this universe, Blaine is staring at him, and he has to say something.
“I’m sorry,” Kurt says, quietly.
Blaine is quiet for moment that stretches on way too long.
It’s not enough, Kurt thinks. Of course it’s not, but at the moment, it’s all he has. He meets Blaine’s eyes, hoping for some kind of miracle, maybe.
“Okay,” Blaine says finally. He takes a deep breath.
“Yeah,” he says, and smiles a little. “I know you’ve been rehearsing like crazy this past week, and you've been picking up all those extra shifts--”
“You’re not off the hook though.” He smiles, bigger this time, like he really means it, and something lights up in Kurt. He’s missed this, has missed Blaine looking at him like this, like he believes in him. “I’m sure there’s some way I can use your expertise to my advantage.”
“Okay, good,” Kurt says – his chest, his whole body, feels weightless. This is the moment, Kurt thinks, when everything will change.
Nothing happens though - there's just this blank 2AM silence hovering between them, and then Blaine turns back to his laptop. The moment is slipping away already, he can feel it.
“You should come back to bed."
“I will, I just have to--”
“It can wait,” Kurt says. His voice is determined, deliberate. “Come on.”
Then he fixes Blaine with a look, the one that he knows Blaine can’t resist, no matter what he's doing - the one that turns his knees to jelly, every time.
And Blaine tastes like wine, just like Kurt thought he would – sweet and earthy. He practically melts into Kurt’s arms, as soon as they switch off the light. His lips make their way along Kurt’s neck, to his chest, and everything is familiar and comfortable and so, so good. Blaine’s body is firm against him; a perfect fit, as always.
They breathe words into each other’s skin: I love you and I‘m sorry and please don’t stop and I’ve missed this and please, Kurt and oh, god, Blaine, I— and for a while, everything is wonderful. They’re connected, they’re together, and it means everything.
It doesn’t last though.
The apartment is still a mess. Blaine is still obsessed with the wedding, and Kurt is still running away. Nothing is too small to start a fight over. Everything feels like variations on a familiar theme, and nothing really changes.
“So how’s the wedding planning going, kid?”
Kurt can hear the sounds of the shop filtered through the phone in the background – guys shouting over the loud whir of machinery. It sounds like they’re a million miles away from Manhattan. He squints in the filtered sunlight of the park, and adjusts the phone against his ear as he takes another sip of coffee. He has to be at the diner in an hour, but it’s been weeks since he’s talked to his dad – maybe longer. It feels like forever. He’s missed his voice.
“It’s fine,” he says, hoping to change the subject quickly. “You’re not working too much, are you? You know I’ve got Carole on speed-dial, too, so don’t even think about lying to me.”
“I’m working just as much as I’m allowed to be, thank you very much. And I feel great. But I really do want to know how the planning’s going, so don’t think you can put me off that easily. You’ve barely said a word about it all summer.”
“I said it’s going fine, Dad,” Kurt says tightly.
“Really? Because Blaine called me last night. He sounded pretty stressed.”
“Blaine is always stressed,” Kurt deadpans. “But, uh… Why did he call? He didn’t mention anything.”
“The guest list,” his dad tells him, and Kurt’s heart sinks a little.
“Yeah, I think I was supposed to call you about that.”
“Blaine may have mentioned something to that effect.”
Kurt sighs. In front of his park bench, two older men jog past in tank tops and short shorts. In the grassy area behind the benches, there’s a father playing catch with his son. He can’t be more than four or five – the glove takes up half of his arm. The first toss sails over the kid’s head, and when he turns to run for the ball, a private, proud smile spreads across the man’s face. It’s one of Kurt’s favorite things about the city – this anonymity among strangers, this quiet mutual understanding between people living their lives in shared spaces, day after day.
“I’m sorry,” Kurt says finally. “I had no idea he was going to hassle you about it.”
There’s a familiar, slightly exasperated huff on the other end of the line.
“Don’t twist my words, Kurt. It’s no hassle. I support both of you one hundred percent on this. I’m happy to help.”
Kurt can’t help but smile a little. “I know you are, Dad. Thank you.”
He feels nostalgic suddenly, for Lima, for a hug from his dad, for being able to feel like a kid again, instead of an adult, planning weddings and finalizing guest lists.
“Now Kurt,” his dad says. “Don’t bite my head off, but I have to ask you – why is Blaine the one calling me about this?”
Kurt freezes, stares straight ahead, as the empty bench across from him becomes occupied again, this time with an older man, who spreads the New York Times open wide across his lap.
“Because I forgot, I guess. I’ve been really busy.” The words almost make him cringe, they sound so inadequate.
“Too busy to plan your own wedding?” Kurt can practically see the expression on his dad’s face – eyebrows raised in disbelief. “I find that hard to believe. And so does Blaine. He’s worried about you.”
“Well, that’s ridiculous,” Kurt snaps.
“Kurt,” his dad says, voice serious, no-nonsense. “If this isn’t what you want, or if this if this is moving too fast, you have to be honest with him.”
Kurt nearly forgets to breathe for a second.
“We’ve been engaged for over a year,” he says after a long moment.
“This is important, Kurt. It doesn’t matter how long it’s been.”
Kurt’s anger bubbles over then, he can’t help it. “I know it’s important! It’s my wedding. I know how important it is, but there are other things that are important too!”
His dad is quiet, letting him have his say, Kurt supposes – he’s always been a good listener - but the problem is, Kurt is really not in the mood for this right now.
“I’m sorry,” Kurt says quickly. “Can we please talk about something else? How’s Carole?”
There’s a long sigh on the line, before his dad speaks again.
“Carole is fine, Kurt. She joined a support group, over at that Lutheran church around the corner from McKinley. Says it’s been good, just being able to talk to people, who, you know – people who have been through the same things.”
“That’s good,” Kurt says, meaning it. “That’s really good.”
They’re quiet for a moment, and Kurt thinks, not for the first time, about how much Finn would have loved New York, if he’d given it a chance. He probably would have ended up being one of those sweaty guys in baggy shorts and t-shirts running around the great lawn chasing flags on Saturday afternoon, apologizing to the fashionable sunbathers when one of his teammates got too close.
“Kurt, listen,” his dad starts, and Kurt is pretty sure there’s some kind of lecture coming. He probably deserves it.
“I just want you to know you can be honest with me. About whatever’s bothering you.”
“I know that,” Kurt says, and watches the man across from him move on to the sports section. “And nothing is bothering me, okay? I’ve just been getting a little tired of the constant wedding talk. I know Blaine’s been working really hard on everything, but…”
Kurt finds himself shrugging. “I don’t know. Something feels off,” he admits. “Ever since Rachel left… I don’t know.”
“I told you, being married is hard, right? Well, living together is hard too. You make compromises. Some of them are gonna be easier than others. But as long as you’re honest with each other, as long as you keep talking to each other, and trying to understand where the other person is coming from, I think you’ll do alright.”
Kurt thinks about earlier this week, about that stupid goddamned towel, and the toothpaste, about how Blaine would just not let it go for anything. It was such a ridiculous thing to be arguing about anyway. And Blaine had just kept going on and on and on. About respect, about how if you respect someone, it doesn’t matter if you agree with them, you just do it, because you care, and how infuriating it had been to hear Blaine act like Kurt didn’t care about their entire relationship, or about his fiancé as an actual human being, because of a stupid towel. He can feel his heart racing now, just thinking about it. Blaine had already apologized, of course. He had, too. He wonders how much his dad would think that counted for.
“That’s good advice, Dad. Thanks,” Kurt says, and there are a million other things he could say, but he decides against all of them. There’s something comforting about someone he really cares about not knowing what a complete mess he’s made of everything. It doesn’t seem worth it to ruin that just yet.
After they’ve said their goodbyes, Kurt stays in the park for a while. He finishes his coffee, and the man across from him finishes his paper. Kurt watches as he folds it neatly on the bench next to him before he stands up, slides it under his arm, and starts to make his way down the path. The game of catch ends without Kurt noticing. When he looks up at the grass beyond the benches again, the man and his son are walking away – he watches as the little boy points excitedly at a squirrel as it darts across their path.
Sitting here like this, on a beautiful, not-oppressively-hot summer day in the park, Kurt is inclined to be optimistic. The wedding will come together; it’ll be small, and it’ll be perfect. Blaine will, after this is all over, forgive his temporary insanity. They’ll stop wanting to murder each other over bath linens. Sitting here like this, it all seems so inconsequential.
He thinks about calling Blaine, and then remembers that he can’t do that because last night, Blaine had practically begged him to go with him to two different appointments this morning – one with the florist, and another with the photographer, and Kurt had declined. He’s supposed to be rehearsing, except that he’s not, he’s sitting in Central Park drinking coffee and watching squirrels and chatting with his dad like everything is fine when he’s pretty sure that it’s not. He knows that it's not inconsequential, that all of these things have meaning and weight, that they're important.
Maybe he should have told his dad - maybe he would have had some advice, some wisdom, something that would have made everything feel okay again.
Next time, Kurt thinks, and starts to make his way across the park, and back into the city.
The day that it happens, and everything comes to a head, the day when something actually changes, Kurt wakes up before his alarm.
Blaine is already gone. He has a vague recollection of him mentioning something last night about breakfast, and early member hours with June - some museum, downtown.
He goes to the gym – spin class, a few weights, nothing too crazy – and comes back to the apartment to shower.
He has a six hour, relatively uneventful shift at the diner. One of the waitresses asks about Rachel, about her TV show, and L.A., and Kurt says that he has no idea, because he doesn’t. He hasn’t heard a word from her since she left, which is not entirely surprising – Rachel is the most focused person he knows, when she’s serious about something - but all the same, he should probably call her.
He makes a mental note to do this, but only after they’ve pinned down the wedding location, because he knows she’ll ask about it, and the thought of deferring to Blaine on something like this just feels wrong. And she would never let him live it down.
And as of today, it’s what he’d have to do because the last he heard, there were three potential options, one of which may require a five-thousand-dollar deposit that they don’t have, another of which is in Hoboken. New Jersey. Kurt can feel his anxiety levels raising just thinking about it. He’s supposed to be excited about this. He’s not. He can’t admit to Rachel that he’s not excited, that instead he’s really kind of just freaking out about everything.
He calls anyway, after his shift ends, a block from the diner, on his way to NYADA to rehearse with his pianist. He’s thinking of doing Awaiting You, from Myths and Hymns for the fall audition, something he’s sure Rachel will appreciate. The call goes to voicemail. He thinks about leaving a message.
“When you and Finn were planning your wedding did you ever think of just eloping? About how much easier it would be not to worry about any of the logistics and just…do it in some tiny no-name town somewhere where no one knows you at all?”
But Kurt knows that Rachel isn’t thinking about Finn right now, or about Kurt and his wedding woes. Rachel has her own life, and it’s much bigger than his at the moment.
He doesn’t leave a message.
While Kurt is in rehearsal, Blaine fills up his phone with text messages. Mostly it’s details about where to meet for dinner later, something they’d planned earlier this week, since for once, Kurt isn’t working in the evening. Blaine changes the time three times before Kurt has a chance to respond – something about making it to the caterers before they close – and eventually they decide on 8:45. Later than Kurt would like – he’s already hungry, but whatever. He has an hour, probably an hour and a half, really, until he needs to head downtown.
He’ll use the time to rehearse, he decides.
He signs in to one of the larger classrooms that are available for students to use as practice rooms. It feels too big, but this is what he’d wanted – to hear his voice echo like it will in the Round Room, at his audition.
He gets halfway through his first song before he stops. He’s not feeling it. He hasn’t been feeling it for a while, really, despite the extra rehearsals - hasn’t really been feeling anything, except anxious and uptight, and worried about the future, and the past, and everything all at once. He keeps telling himself to take it one day at a time, one thing at a time, one song at a time. He’s not sure that it’s working.
He doesn’t feel like he’s in control of anything, anymore. The summer is flying by, and with it are so many things he won’t be able to take back, or explain away. Arguments, and silences, and not saying what he means, and not asking the things he wants to ask… Not talking, or talking about the wrong things - not stopping Blaine from planning their entire wedding without him.
It’s the wedding, and it’s not the wedding – it’s something deeper, maybe. Kurt can’t pin it down, this anxiety. It amps something up inside of him, something he doesn’t like, something that reminds him of high school before Dalton and the bottom of the dumpster in the McKinley parking lot – it’s all-consuming, sometimes, and it dulls everything else.
Kurt glances at his watch. He should leave soon, if he wants to make it to the restaurant on time.
He really doesn’t feel like meeting Blaine for dinner tonight. There’s rain in the forecast, and he wonders if maybe they should just order in. It’s probably too late for that though. Blaine has already left for god knows how many wedding-related errands he’s squeezing in today, and he’d probably chosen the restaurant based on where he’d be coming from so, fine, Kurt thinks. Dinner. It’s been a while since they’ve done Italian, and this place is one of their favorites – low key, quiet, and they can always get a table. It might be nice. They haven’t had a night to themselves in a while.
Blaine is fifteen minutes late to the restaurant, and by the time he gets there, it’s been raining for a while.
Later, Kurt will replay the evening in his head over and over so many times that it feels like it took a lifetime to unfold, but all told, he’s probably only there thirty minutes, tops. Blaine is there for far less than that. In Kurt’s memory, he’s there one second, and gone the next.
The rain pinging off the plastic sheets behind him, the wobbly little table, the menu that he’d stared at for what felt like hours before Blaine arrived – there’s nothing really that noteworthy about any of it. He’d been starving. After much deliberation, he’d decided on broccoli rabe with roasted pork, and spinach ravioli. He was considering ordering for himself, and Blaine, just before Blaine arrived.
Everything happens so fast that Kurt can’t really process it until much later. Most of their recent, petty fights over nothing had taken infinitely longer than this, which is pathetic, Kurt thinks, and also really, really sad. The most important person in his life, the most important thing in the world, and it’s gone in five minutes. It shouldn’t be possible, but it happens, it’s happening.
It starts like any other argument they’ve had lately, but boils over much more quickly than usual, like maybe they were halfway there already. Kurt remembers thinking, just before Blaine got there, that he really needs to figure out how to just be late for things, instead of always showing up at least five minutes early, because then it just makes him more angry, the later Blaine is. And Blaine is almost always late. Kurt has known this for years.
It really doesn’t mean anything though, late or early. There’s no grand, deeper meaning to it. Or maybe there is – he’s really not sure anymore.
There’s a spike of adrenaline, and a bright flash of anger and Kurt is listening to Blaine’s voice, and then he’s saying that maybe he doesn’t want to get married, and at first it feels a bit like he’s taken the bait. Like he’s been set up, like he’s acting on a dare, but in the end, he’s the one who said it, not Blaine. And Blaine doesn’t even really contradict him, doesn’t argue, looks at Kurt like he’s been expecting this, or worse, like this had somehow been inevitable.
And then Kurt is saying things that he really can’t take back, and Blaine says he’ll never forgive him with such fierce anger that Kurt believes him instantly. It makes him think that maybe Blaine shouldn’t forgive him, maybe he’s finally gone too far. He’s never seen this much pain and anger in Blaine’s eyes, about anything.
It’s kind of a relief, really, to discover that there’s actually a breaking point. It feels terrible.
After Blaine leaves the restaurant, Kurt sits there for a while, not moving, completely still. It feels like he’s not breathing, not blinking, like everything inside of him has shut down, but he must at least be breathing, because eventually the waiter comes over, and asks if him if he’d like to order.
He has no idea how to answer that.
The whole thing is completely unbelievable, and very, very real at the same time.