Adam rubbed his eyes and shifted in his chair. When he looked up, he spotted his father braying at one of the nurses. The man had always been able to project sheer amount of volume. Adam had some rather vivid childhood memories. Dillon Ramsey was not a man to be trifled with. Nor was he apparently happy to find that his son, who had been missing for almost a month, was missing again from his hospital bed.
“Dad?” Adam looked up at him in disbelief.
The large, blond man put his hands on his hips and glared at the nurse. “So where’d he get off to? Hm?”
Adam tented his brows and sighed.
“He just went into the hallway looking for the friend he came in with,” the nurse answered.
“And you just let ‘im go? Is that how you run your medical facilities here?” he boomed. “Is it too much to ask for a modicum of professionalism?”
“Dad, cut it out.” Adam’s little sister, Gale, swatted her big father’s arm and scurried over to the bed. After the nurse had helped Adam back into it, she threw her arms around his neck and squeezed. “Aaadaaam,” she whined.
“Oh, I’m all right, pickle.” Adam kissed her cheek and rubbed her back. “No fussing, yeah?”
“I thought you were gone,” she said through little huffs.
“Honey, let go of our wayfarer for a minute so I can get him set up?” the nurse asked.
Gale stepped back and looked down at him, twirling the ends of her long blond hair and raking her eyes up and down as the nurse settled him in with pillows to prop him up, put the heart monitor back in place, and checked his drip.
“What’s all this then?” Dillon demanded.
“We’re just testing his resting heartbeat right now. His body has been under a large strain, and he has a low grade fever from the infection in his leg,” the nurse explained. “I can get the doctor in here to give you a full-”
“Do that.” Dillon put his hands on his hips. “Well, yeah, go on, won’t you?”
She gave him a firm look and turned back to the IV bag. “When I’m done.”
Dillon raised his brows. Adam looked down and smiled. His father could be an intense man. He didn’t always mean to be so abrasive. And it made Adam feel a little better to have his father here, making one of his big fusses over him. Gale pulled up a chair next to Adam.
“Shouldn’t you be in school?” Adam asked, tweeking her cheek.
“No, they let me off today on account of you being alive. God, you look rough. What happened out there? Did you get bitten by a shark?”
Adam chuckled and touched her hair gently. “No, sweetheart. I just slipped when I was out trying to fish and cut my leg open on a rock.”
“Can’t rightly imagine you fishing,” Dillon said. He pulled up a chair of his own.
Adam looked to his nurse, who patted his shoulder and gave him a smile before leaving the room. “You do what you have to.”
“I’m so glad you’re okay,” Gale said. “Mum’ll be here in a few hours. It’s a long trip. She was really excited on the phone.”
He turned his head and looked at his father. “So. Long time.”
“Well, it’s been a busy year, but who skips out when their son’s in the hospital?” Dillon said gruffly.
Adam looked down at his hands. It had been years since he and his father had been face to face, and phone calls tended to be brief, simply the exchange of information. It wasn’t the result of a fight, or any repudiation on either side. The man had simply been swallowed up by work and his new family. Adam saw Gale more often, since he could drop in and visit her at her school, but he had little connection with his father’s new wife and little boy Adrian. That Adam now lived in New York full time hadn’t much impact on their relationship. He wasn’t sure why he’d ever thought that it would.
Though his father had sent him some money when he’d gotten into NYADA, with a few warnings about certain professors. He cared, in his way.
“Tell me about being stranded at sea!” Gale patted her knees excitedly.
“Oh, all right. But keep this under wraps-” Adam spread his hands, palms down as the grinned softly at her. “-my friend and I are going to be writing a musical about this one.”
“Yeah?” Dillon chuckled deeply. “Well, I’ll prepare to give some notes then.”
Adam rolled his eyes.
He woke to find himself alone once more. Gale had probably been collected by her stepmother, and his father... who knew. He might be talking to the doctors, or he might have stepped out to do some business while Adam slept.
There was a rap on the doorframe, and Adam looked up to see the man who had helped him back in the hallway a few hours before.
“Hullo,” Adam said.
“You feelin’ any better? Did your family come?” He sounded like he might be from in-state, or maybe a bit further north. Something about it made Adam feel more comfortable, not that his shyness had really ever come out just from talking to strangers.
“Come and gone. They’ll be back.” Adam pushed a hand back through his hair and arched his back. “It’s all right. I probably won’t be in here too long. I was a bit loopy before, but... I’m actually not that bad off.”
“Yeah?” The man stepped closer. “So why’re they monitorin’ your heart?”
Adam touched one of the wires taped to his chest. “I assume there’s a risk that I might have had some kind of strain.”
The man nodded and touched the brim of his ball cap. “You don’t wanna let that stuff go. If there’s a chance, better to know early.”
“Agreed,” Adam said. “Thank you, by the way, for listening earlier.”
“Yeah, well.” He shrugged. “Can’t keep a man away from his boyfriend.”
Adam smiled easily.
“They told you anything?”
“No. Just that he was in surgery, and he came out of it okay, and they’re only allowing in family just now because he needs to rest.” Adam sighed. “I guess that’s all I need to know right now. If true, I’ll see him again soon. I hope.”
The man frowned. “His family’s not keepin’ you from him?”
“Not likely. He talks about his father like he might be the PFLAG dad of the year.” Adam smirked slightly. “He’s crazy about him. They sound so close. It’s sweet, really. Makes me nervous to meet the fellow, though, right?”
The man looked down and chuckled. “Yeah, I’m sure. My son’s last boyfriend... I don’t remember meeting him really. I think the first time he was bouncing around in his school uniform on my friggin’ furniture singing ‘Survivor,’ with my son doing back-ups. That’s a Beyoncé song.”
Adam chuckled. “That’s a great way to meet the boyfriend.”
“I dunno. I wasn’t too sure about him at first. But that was before they started dating. He was weird kid. Still is.” He grimaced a little, then laughed. “Anyway. I just wanted to check in on ya. Mine’s asleep, but he’s got my wife and his brother with him. I wasn’t sure if you had anyone.”
“I’m pretty sure they’ll come back. And when my friends realize I’m alive, they’ll be flooding in here as well,” Adam assured him. “I appreciate it, though.”
“They thought you were dead? What happened?” He stepped closer to the bed. “If you don’t mind.”
“Not at all. It’s dead boring laying here, waiting to see if anyone will come to visit you.”
Adam motioned for the man to take a seat and thought for a moment. The man took a chair, leaned his forearms on his knees, and folded his hands. Adam wasn’t sure where to start, so he started by explaining about the Apples getting a spot on the cruise liner. As he segued onto how the ship started to go down, he caught the strange look of alarm taking over the man’s face.
“Well, I know it’s a harrowing tale, but I haven’t even really gotten to how my boyfriend and I got hurt yet. Should I stop?” Adam asked.
“Your boyfriend,” the man repeated. He frowned and dragged a hand over his mouth.
Adam narrowed his eyes and looked at the man seriously. That was a strange reaction to have. This guy had been talking about his gay son as though it was nothing.
“I’m sorry if-”
“Is your name Adam?” he asked.
“Oh.” Adam shifted himself more toward the man. “I guess I didn’t give it to you. That was a bit rude. Yes, it is. How did you guess?”
The man licked over his lower lip slowly, then reached his right hand out to shake. Adam took it, giving him a confused smile.
“I’m Burt Hummel.”
Adam drew in a sharp breath. He heard the heart monitor speeding up and laughed involuntarily as he looked back at it.
“Not gonna hurt’cha,” Burt promised. He let go and looked Adam over intensely. “You saved my son’s life.”
“I... I didn’t even think about it. I couldn’t grab onto him in the ship, and then I saw him fall...” Adam shook his head. He covered his eyes, feeling the heat of embarrassment and anger coming up his cheeks.
“Hey. It’s okay.” Burt squeezed his arm. “Kurt’s gonna be fine. He’s...”
He let out a slow breath, and then started detailing what the doctors had told him about Kurt. Adam couldn’t stop his eyes from overflowing when he thought of Kurt in surgery, even if it was inevitable. Burt patted his shoulder as he talked Adam through it. Of course he kept going. He’d seen before just how desperate Adam was to know what was going on.
“I didn’t know you two were together,” Burt said after a long pause.
“We weren’t. Oh, it was uh... I flirted, and then he asked me out, and we dated for a bit, but he called it off because he wasn’t sure he could commit himself completely.” Adam shrugged his head to the side. “While we were on the island, he changed his tune...” He pressed his lips together and swallowed. “Hope he doesn’t change it back.”
“What, you think he would, just because...” Burt pushed his lips out and shook his head.
“Classic bottle episode scenario? We both might die? Carpe diem?”
“Yeah, I dunno. Kurt’s pretty full-force when he feels something, though I can see why he’d put the brakes on a relationship right now. He’s had a hell of a year.”
“Because of the break-up,” Adam nodded.
“‘Cause of that, ‘cause of other things. If you’re up to it, I’ll take you over to his room when he wakes, hm?”
“That’s kind of you. He...” Adam straightened his gown where it had bunched up and bit his lower lip. “He’s not mentioned me, has he?”
“He’s outta his freakin’ mind on painkillers,” Burt said dryly.
Adam almost laughed.
“He was still having a hard time remembering where he was when I left his room.” Burt patted his arm again. “Don’t worry too much. If nothin’ else, I’ll be grateful to you forever for what you’ve done for Kurt.”
“He did just as much to keep us alive. Even when he felt weak...”
Adam chuckled and started to fill Burt in on some of the less risque parts of their time on the island, their failure to fish, Kurt going ninja on the small island creatures, singing to one another on the beach.
He didn’t remember where he left off, but he fell asleep there, with Burt Hummel’s strong hand on his shoulder.
Kurt sunk deep into darkness. He dreamed of sand, and rain, and strong hands moving against his body.
His eyes fluttered open and the room was cold and bright and he flinched away from it.
Then back down into darkness again.
“Oh, sweetie,” Carole’s voice floated over him like a cloud. “It’s okay. Don’t be upset...”
His eyes opened and closed, opened and closed. Occasionally he tuned into the white of the ceiling and the steady beep in the distance.
Fingers brushed over his hair, and a strong thumb rubbed the crease out of his brow.
“Dad...” a weak voice whispered.
“Good boy. Just drink a little, okay?”
His ears still heard the sound of waves against the shore.
“So I joined the school play... I know I never cared all that much about the plays in high school, or acting until my half-assed grab for college in New York, but I figured. Hey. If I’m ever lucky enough to get a sweet job in music education, maybe I can help get some stuff off the ground. So I’ll need to have some experience. It’s a small part, but that’s okay because the directors talk to me about how they make their decisions and stuff...”
Kurt blinked a few times at his brother.
“So uh, yeah. Um. It’s a Tennessee Williams play. I know you were into him.”
“In the play reading group,” Kurt muttered.
“Oh, hey. You awake?” Finn reached over and squeezed his hand.
“Yeah. Where...” Kurt started to rise and felt a hand on his chest.
“Stay, okay? You’re in the hospital.”
Kurt frowned and looked around. “I am. Oh. Dad was here...”
“Yeah. He was, and mom’s...” Finn jerked his hand towards the chair on the other end of the room where Carole was dozing. “But he’ll be back. I can message him if you want.”
Kurt tried to take in a deep breath and looked down at himself. “I feel funny.”
“Dude, you had major surgery. That weird feeling is your guts being stitched up.”
Kurt continued to stare at his abdomen. He moved his hand down carefully, but he could only feel the bandages underneath his gown. His skin started to itch all over. It shouldn’t have been that much of a surprise that he’d needed surgery. Adam had worried about the internal damage done before he’d gotten the sheet of metal out of him...
“Adam.” Kurt looked at Finn and felt his heart surging. “Adam, is he okay? He was getting a fever before we-”
“Whoa, whoa.” Finn grabbed his hand and squeezed it. “Univeri-glee club Adam?”
Kurt let out a breathy laugh. “Yeah.”
“Wow. Oh, right. His friends came over to get your script for the Pippa the Musical thing.”
“They did?” Kurt shook his head. “Okay, later on that. Adam. Is he okay?”
“I dunno. Um... and I don’t know who to ask. When did you last see him?”
Kurt moved his fingers over his bandages. The idea that his insides had been on display was creeping him out. He forcefully took in a deep breath. “Um, on the plane. Before... the medic put the oxygen mask over my face and he was there...”
“Oh. So he’s probably fine.” Finn shrugged. “They haven’t wanted anyone else in here but family.”
Kurt nodded. Deep breaths. Deep breaths.
“But if you can stay awake for more than a few minutes, they’ll probably let some people in here. Everybody’s goin’ nuts. They’re all at the apartment waiting to hear more.” Finn smiled lopsidedly. “I mean, we told ‘em you made it through surgery, but they really want to see you.”
“That’s sweet.” Kurt’s hand grazed over his forehead. “I didn’t think I’d ever see them again. I didn’t- I didn’t think I’d see you again.”
Finn’s lips spread wider. “Not getting outta this brother thing so easy.”
Kurt swallowed and sucked in his lower lip. Finn opened his arms wide and motioned forward with his fingers. Kurt leaned over a little and let Finn envelop him in a big hug.
“God, we nearly died without you, Kurt,” Finn said, holding him even tighter. “Everyone was so wrecked.”
“I’m not kidding.” Finn let go a little. “There were all these people at your memorial.”
“My memorial? I had a memorial...?”
“And they were all so like... All talking about how much you influenced their lives.” He laughed and looked down, blinking rapidly. “I’m glad you have the chance to do more of that.”
“And that little baby girl you saved... Oh, and this one kid got up there and told everyone that he didn’t kill himself because he looked up to you so much in high school, and he wanted to be as fierce as you were.”
“Oh...” Kurt laid his head back on the pillows. It was swimming now. His eyes closed for a moment. When he opened them again, Finn was leaning close and staring at him with a disturbing intensity. “What?”
“You just...” Finn sighed. “You keep scaring me!”
“Guess playing Survivor without the cameras takes it outta you, huh?”
“You could say that. Bet Survivor never impaled the contestants before sending them on the island.”
Finn sat back and nodded. “That must’ve been real scary.”
Kurt thought back and frowned. “It was. But, you know, the thing that was in my mind the most, when the water was rising around me and that thing sticking out of my side...” He took a breath. It was like he could feel the water rushing around him. “I didn’t want dad to have to ID my body.”
Finn’s eyes widened as his brows knit together. “...Do you want to talk to someone, Kurt?”
“We’re talking,” Kurt said. “Right now. Did I fall asleep again?”
“No, I just think this must’ve been really stressful.”
“It would be stressful for anyone,” Kurt protested.
“Yeah, but-” Finn turned toward the door.
Kurt looked up and raised his brows. Blaine was there in the doorway, with Sam shadowing close behind him. Their eyes were comically big. Kurt wondered for the first time how much of a hot salty mess he looked.
“Dude, you can’t be here right now,” Finn said as he stood up.
Kurt was a little surprised to see Finn intercepting them at the door like that, but he couldn’t say he wasn’t grateful. He was reaching the end of his energy just after talking to Finn.
“Burt left word with the nurses that some of us could come, but, y’know not all at once,” Sam said. He held something tightly under his arm.
Blaine was on his toes, trying to see over Finn. An impossible feat, but Kurt could see his hair bobbing up and down anyway.
It was a little strange to see them. He hadn’t laid eyes on Blaine for more than a brief moment since Mr. Schuester’s first aborted wedding. Sam, he’d seen a little when he came home for spring break, but Kurt had avoided alone time with Blaine. It had just seemed like a bad idea, after the “meant to be” talk.
“Oh.” Carole rubbed her eyes and looked up. “Hey, boys! I didn’t know you’d be first.”
“Yeah, well,” Sam said.
Finn looked back at Kurt, and Blaine slipped around his side and made a beeline for the bed.
“I can’t believe it!” He seemed breathless, his eyes roaming all over Kurt’s disheveled form. “Oh, God, Kurt.” He shook his head. “You look like... We thought you were dead, and I thought...”
“Well, I’m still kickin’,” Kurt said with a little head waggle.
“I wanted so much to believe you were out there, somewhere. You had to be. That’s not how our story ends.” He smiled knowingly and reached for Kurt’s hand, but Kurt slipped it away to wipe his brow.
Sam came up on his other side. “I made some stuff for you.”
Carole was laughing behind her hand in the corner of the room. Finn just scowled and texted.
“Oh, did you?” Kurt asked politely.
Sam nodded, grinning, then letting his tongue peak out over his lips.
“Do... I get to see it?”
Sam held up one of the flat, square rectangles that had been under his arm.
Kurt blinked. It was pasta on a board. It took him a moment to recognize the face, and his head jerked forward.
It was him. Staring back at him with a macaroni smirk and crossed arms.
“And there’s this one.” Sam switched boards. Kurt again, with a superior look on his face, gazing up angelically at the sky. “And um... I had some trouble with this one.”
Kurt. With his sai swords.
“Wow, that’s...” Kurt laughed suddenly. He held his hand out for the picture and then held it close to his face to look over the detail. “Did you make these?”
Sam bobbed his head. “Yeah. I used to make them of just celebrities. And one of you. But then...”
Kurt met his eyes and smiled. “Thanks. For keeping me around.”
“It wasn’t anything.” Sam shrugged and watched while Kurt traced his fingers over the dried pasta. “It was just what I felt like making. I didn’t have the guts to put it up at the memorial, though.”
“Really, how long did you wait before deciding to mourn me?” Kurt joked half-heartedly.
“The Coast Guard said it wasn’t likely that you could have survived, honey,” Carole said.
“Nobody wanted to believe it, but...” Blaine reached for Kurt’s hand again. This time he grabbed his fingers a second before he instinctively pulled away. Blaine tightened his grip and then rested his other hand over top. “They said no one could have survived in the water for that long. I didn’t know what to do without you. I missed you so much.”
Kurt stared at him for a moment, his brain not reaching anything for him to say.
“But here you are, and we’re together again. It’s fate, isn’t it, Kurt? There’s no way it’s not.” He squeezed Kurt’s hand and smiled, brimming with joy.
Kurt touched his side with his free hand and swallowed hard. Nausea was washing over him and he panted slightly.
“Hey, are you okay?” Finn came up behind Blaine and edged him back a little.
“I think I’m just... just tired,” Kurt muttered. He looked at Finn’s face for a moment, then felt a large hand petting the back of his hair. “I think I need some water... or...”
“This isn’t a good time, guys,” Finn began.
“Isn’t it?” Burt said at the entrance of the room. “Got your text. Wow. Party in here.”
“I could have used a heads up,” Carole said.
“I didn’t know everyone was comin’ over so soon.” He approached the bed slowly, bent over.
Blaine’s brows knit together and his shoulders went stiff. Kurt slipped his hand away and leaned forward.
Oh. That kind of hurt.
It definitely made the nausea thing an ever present danger.
He must have made a noise, because Carole was shooing Sam and Blaine out of the room and Finn leaned over him.
“You okay?” he asked again.
“Uhh, I can feel the stitches if I try to move.”
“So don’t, dummy.”
“Can ya spare a few minutes before you conk out on us again?” Burt asked.
“Maybe...?” Kurt spotted the messy blond hair coming forward, and as Carole moved back, the strong jaw, the sweet smile, the kind blue eyes. Kurt’s heart fluttered uncontrollably in his chest. “ADAM!”
Outside of the room, Blaine’s face flashed in the window and crumpled just as Carole closed the door.
Kurt reached for Adam’s hand in panic. What was he doing in that chair? Why was there an IV bag on his chair?
“Oh, God, what happened? Are you okay?” Kurt shuddered as his hand grabbed for Adam. He would have pushed forward to close the distance, but then he almost certainly would puke on him, and that was many levels of not romantic.
“Darling, calm down. I’m just fine,” Adam said. He turned his head and thanked Burt as he stopped the wheelchair by the bed, then looked at Kurt again. “They had to stitch up my leg, didn’t they? Oh, angel. Look at you...”
“Come here,” Kurt ordered.
Adam reached for him, and Kurt pulled him close and held him tightly.
“Oh, my God, Adam. Adam.”
“Sorry I wasn’t here sooner, love. I did try to get to you. Not that I knew were you were or I was doing such a good job of it,” Adam said with a laugh.
Kurt kissed the side of his face fiercely, then pulled back to kiss him on the lips. It didn’t matter so much that other people were there. The separation ached, and he didn’t want to ever be away from Adam’s side, especially when it looked like he might need him. Had he been alone in the hospital while Kurt had been babbling in his sleep?
“I love you so much,” Kurt said. He kissed Adam’s lips twice more, cupping the side of his face. “Please stay?”
Adam’s eyes quickly grew wet. They shone like stars as he looked back at Kurt, letting out a strangled noise, and then he pressed his forehead against Kurt’s. “As long as they let me, angel. Okay? Don’t be upset. We made it. We both made it.” He laughed. “And all limbs more or less intact.”
He put his hand over Kurt’s abdomen. “How do you feel?”
“Weird. Kind of... sick,” he admitted.
Adam kissed his forehead. “Then just relax. Nowhere to be. Someone else will catch the fish.”
Kurt clung to his hand, and Adam rubbed his shoulder gently. He let Adam rest his head on his shoulder, and began carding his fingers through Adam’s hair. He looked up at his father, who was watching them with crossed arms but an open expression, and mouthed, “thank you.” Burt smiled and excused himself and Carole. Finn lingered for a moment, but only to get some water and put it by Kurt’s bedside, along with a phone to message them.
He still felt a little dizzy. So he sipped the water and tried to be very still. As he closed his eyes, he heard Adam signing softly:
“You’d be so easy to love...”.