Title: Be Positive
Pairing: Kurt/Blaine past relationship, Kurt/OCs, Kurt/Adam (main)
Warning: HIV plot. Hints of depression in later chapters. I imagine this to be sensitive for some, and I have no intention of being appropriative. Also, sorry for the incredibly long build up. I had to put a lot of pieces into place before starting.
Summary: As Kurt slowly tries to piece himself back together after the break-up, he and Adam circle around one another in New York without truly meeting. When Kurt comes home for Christmas, a prank and poor bookkeeping result in Kurt getting the shock of his life. Reeling from the news and still trying to be strong for those around him, Kurt returns to New York with baggage of a diagnosis he never expected weighing heavily on his shoulders that will complicate his life more than he thought possible. Then, he runs into Adam at NYADA.
AN: I'll try to update every few weeks. I might not start posting this at all, if I don't get it going.
Come home, kid. We miss ya.
Kurt’s lips etched a slight smile across his lean face as he looked at the email from his father. Riddled with grammar errors, blunt and to the point. Kurt ached with how much he missed his family. He could hear his father’s voice speaking in his head, so casual, gruff, fond. Maybe worried.
Kurt hadn’t been home since he’d hitch outta Lima. He’d intended to have more trips back and forth, but work had been so busy, and plane tickets so expensive. Rachel’s fathers were paying her half of the rent (and all of the internet and cable service Rachel couldn’t live without), but Kurt was slammed at the office and waiting tables in his off hours just to make it each month. Even at Vogue, internships turned assistantships weren’t at the top of the pay scale. But his father had told Kurt not to worry about it.
”Work’s work. You gotta put in the time, pay your dues, take your knocks. Finn misses your help on Friday dinners, but I guess it’s about time he and I learned to do for ourselves. Carole misses you too, by the way, and it’s got nothing to do with your cooking.”
“Misses having someone to watch Project Runway with, probably.”
He was sure that his father was actually a lot more disappointed that Kurt had been away so long than he’d let on. Finn had not so deftly hinted that was the case over the phone, but Kurt had sensed it in that underlying layer of his father’s voice when they were on the phone. They could read one another better than anyone, that way.
The day was over and most everyone had gone home, but Kurt was still at his desk. His desk. His tiny desk, but his.
This could be a career for me.
The almost urgent keen of his own voice made Kurt wince. His traitor eyes flickered over to his phone...
Seven new text messages. Three new voicemails. Blaine’s incessant urge to reach out and touch were easing up a little under the weight of the radio silence. A pit of something dark and bitter had formed in Kurt’s stomach. He should really just block Blaine, if he wasn’t going to look at the messages. Why did he have to torture himself by letting the temptation linger there?
“Hey, Twink.” Chase ducked his head into the office. His mouth slipped into a sideways slump. “How’s it goin’? Is Mr. Too Cute still bugging you? We can make sure the mailroom rejects anything he tries to send you here.”
“No. I mean,” Kurt sighed. “I don’t know. I think that’s a little too cruel, isn’t it?”
Chase held up a box. “Do you want it then?”
Kurt’s eyes fixed on the brown, rectangular package, emblazoned with the word “AMAZON” across the side. He swallowed.
Chase clasped his hand into a fist and pounded his chest twice. Kurt frowned.
“Be strong, bro,” he said with a grin.
“I think you’re a little old to be doing that,” Kurt teased, raising a brow.
“Okay, jailbait.” The humor dropped from Chase’s face. “I’ll tell Raymond to send the packages back. If the ex has a problem with it, you can tell him that this is your workplace, and it is inappropriate. Unless...?”
“No. I don’t think whatever he ordered from Amazon will help anything.”
“I wonder why he thought it would.”
Kurt rested his cheek on his fist. “To know that, I’d have to talk to him.”
Chase nodded, with a little knowing smile.
Kurt sighed again. “Thanks. For intercepting that for me. My willpower can only last so long.”
“And he knows it.”
“He’s not that calculating. Believe me, if he were, we’d never have had this fight. He just...” Kurt’s fingers moved over the smooth metallic paint on his phone.
He closed his eyes. “He doesn’t think sometimes. A lotta times. It’s funny, because he’s such a friggin’ people pleaser. You’d think sometimes that would go into pleasing me.”
“I know how complicated these things can get, but...” Chase hesitated long enough for Kurt to look up at him. “Look, hon, in my experience-- and in only mine, mind-- a cheater is a cheater. Guys who cheat are guys who are going to cheat. There’s nothing you can do about it. Unless you want an open relationship with him.”
Kurt paled. His daily level of jealousy around Blaine was high enough, let alone if Blaine was regularly going out for ‘hook-ups’--
No. Blaine wasn’t beyond redemption. He wasn’t Satan. But Kurt wasn’t sure that their relationship could be saved, either. He wasn’t even really sure if Blaine was sorry.
”I was lonely, and you weren’t there!”
His stomach felt unsettled whenever he thought of it. It was the same feeling when he’d realized that Blaine had been spending all that time with Sebastian behind his back.
“Hey. How about I buy you a drink, hm? You need to get out of this office for a little while. Do you work tonight? I mean at wherever that other place is.”
Kurt tightened his lips slightly in the semblance of a smile. “No, I have the night off.”
Chase set the package on the table by the door. Kurt could see that Chase had already written “Return to Sender” on it. Just in case. He came over to Kurt’s desk slowly, like Kurt might spook and skitter off like a sad Bambi.
“You deserve a night of fun. And I say that in the least creepy-older-guy way possible. I do have a boyfriend, so I promise I’m not trying to push you into anything untoward.”
Kurt let out a nervous laugh. “That does help, actually.”
“C’mon. Whatever you’re working on can be sent in the morning. You get here early enough.” Chase held out his hand.
Kurt deftly turned away from the touch and exited the desk from the other side, pretending that he needed to grab something out of the drawer and put it in his bag. If Chase noticed, he didn’t say anything.
“Let’s go, jailbait.”
“I’m not that young,” Kurt protested on the way out the door.
“Young enough that I’m gonna have to slip you past the bouncer at front door.”
Kurt let his eyes linger as they walked down the hallway together. Chase was a nice guy, or seemed to be. He wasn’t exactly a mentor figure (nor would he be with the suggestions he made at creative meetings), but he was nice.
Kurt could use with some nice. He had Isabelle, and he had Rachel. Superficially anyway. But Rachel was always busy with school and twirling around the city with her boyfriend and fellow NYADAns. He’d been working too much to really connect with anyone else, and it felt a little like conversations with friends back home always seemed to redirect to Blaine.
He could really use somebody.
Adam checked his phone for the twelfth time, leaned against a wall just beside the door, and then shoved his hands into his pockets. He just wasn’t sure if he had it in him to go inside today.
It had been a rough week at school as well as work. He’d gotten a fair round of mocking from teachers and fellow students alike, found out that the Adam’s Apples had been turned down for funding yet again, and gotten stiffed on his tips at cafe. On top of everything else, he’d missed his weekly phone call from his mother, and hadn’t called back, because she would know that he wasn’t happy. She always knew. He rolled his shoulders and forced a smile as he looked down at his scuffed shoes and threadbare jeans.
The current problem? ‘In-there’ there was no forcing of smiles. ‘In-there’ was raw guts and truth. ‘In-there’ he would manage brightness and cheer for other people, but when the circle came around to him, he would have to introduce himself, and speak to his own pain. There was no glass half full in those moments, as hard as he tried. And it was ever so important that he tried.
Adam turned to the high, familiar voice. It was Aude, in all her tiny glory, and also in boymode: buzzed hair, tight pink and white striped shirt, and fitted skinny jeans. She was utterly devoid of glitter, wig, dramatic shadow and lashes, and frills. Though she was wearing some lip gloss. One must be presentable, of course. So Adam should probably switch pronouns, but it was hard since he thought of her so often in conjunction with her spectacular performances. Regardless, Aude had never seemed to mind pronoun slippage, so his motivation for self-correct was a bit lacking.
“Aw. Poor, Adam.” Aude pouted and bounced on her- his heels.
“I’m... I’m not, poorly. I’m fine. Feeling good. Just a rough day.”
Aude offered her arm. “Come tell us about it?”
“Sorry, dear. Don’t know if I’m up for it today.”
Aude looked down, her thick lashes covering large, dark almond-shaped eyes that were hazel with a golden amber glint. “I wish you’d come. I know that you do not like to dwell but you do need support.” Her voice dropped out of perky sweetness, and was now colored with the weight of her hard years. “We all do, y’know. There’s no reason you should have to do this alone.”
“Aude, nothing’s changed since I started coming to group. I’m not sure if it’s really what I need. Life can drain you, no matter how your cards are dealt. Maybe we have a bit of a worse hand than some, but...”
Aude twined her arms in front of her and pinched her lips together as she frowned. Her eyes darted to to the window, which was blocked for privacy by music and movie posters.
“Let’s go get something to eat,” Aude suggested. “I’m broke. You can feed me.”
Adam smiled widely and took Aude’s arm, glad for the reprieve from society. He missed having this one on his arm. Even if she’d gone off to date someone better suited to her, he’d always enjoyed her company.
But Adam wasn’t alone by any means. Not as much as Aude believed, even if his mum was across the pond and he rarely, if ever, spoke to his father and sister. He had the Apples, who were, beyond the singing and creative works, his friends. He spent most of his time outside of school and work trying to figure ways to make their lives easier at NYADA. But something was missing. Aude was intuitive like that.
She knew he needed the support tonight, but couldn’t stand to be around all the people, with their hard stories, and retelling his own... Digging out his insides for them to see. So instead, they sat across from the table from one another at a little place around the block, unloading about their week.
Aude leaned on her hand and took another bite of thin, floppy pizza. “Don’t be saaad.”
“I’m not sad, darling,” Adam chided.
Aude touched his hand and looked into his eyes. He leaned forward and lifted her hand for a kiss.
“Thank you for the time.”
Aude rolled her eyes. “It’s about all I can do, after you’ve kept me off the street. Sweet ladies like me,” she said coyly, “Don’t do well on the street.”
“I oughtn’t get credit for basic humanity.”
Aude ate an olive off her plate. “It’s not humanity... It’s the ability to see humanity. People didn’t see me. They still don’t. Now I’m just that bright spark that inspires them to live their lives better. To appreciate life. Oh, that drag queen. How fabulous! How fierce!”
She curled her lip and let out a little growl. “May we all be so happy and gay!”
And Adam smiled. It was hard not to. Aude was the spark of life. She just wasn’t his spark. She was, if anything, her own.
“If only.” Adam nodded abruptly. “Do you work tonight?”
“No show. Not tonight. It’s group therapy night.” Aude raised a thin, perfectly-groomed brow high.
“Right then. We-” He paused to smile widely because he refused to acknowledge her hint that he should make more of an effort toward therapy. “-are going to go trolling up and down the neighborhood in search of an adventure!”
Aude clapped her hands together and giggled. “I love an adventuh!” she squealed in a mock Cockney.
Adam popped up to get them some take-away boxes and returned feeling a little more energized. The evening could end anywhere. So long as their energy lasted.
“I should just get fat.”
Kurt avoided Rachel’s eyes. He stared out the window, but he didn’t see clouds. Just like he hadn’t really seen anything since they’d left the halls of McKinley behind. All he could see was Blaine’s shining hazel eyes. His begging expression.
It was the same refrain Blaine had been singing since that the night he’d flown in out of nowhere and shattered Kurt’s heart to pieces. And since then, Kurt had been choked on words, barely able to respond, to even really name what he felt. Weeks of limbo, wanting to know, but not to know. Because knowing meant facing the loss that accompanied that understanding.
His stomach churned and his body was slack. It hadn’t been dramatics that had caused him to tell his brother he felt like he was dying. He didn’t know how he felt about Blaine, about them, but his body... he felt hollowed out and weighed down at the same time.
Once his eyes had lit on Blaine backstage, the desire to speak to him had drained away and he felt empty and cold once again. The play unfolded before him, with their painfully skinny Sandy and the vocally flat Danny, and Santana there for some reason, and Tina stealing scenes and making the audience laugh even when Jan wasn’t supposed to be the focus. (Get it, girl! he’d thought idly at one point. He’d been there.). Then Rachel was up and leaving the auditorium. Kurt turned his head and caught a glimpse of Unique back in boymode, which didn’t make any sense.
Then the hallway, and Blaine’s eyes, and begging, and the sound of Blaine’s strangled voicemails surging in his ears along with blood and panic.
You have to forgive me. Kurt, I need you! Why won’t you answer?
All of it crowding up in his brain, causing his heart to lodge in his throat, and making itself at home there with other hurtful, painful noise.
This is cheating, Kurt.
It’s not right, but it’s okay.
I was with someone.
It doesn’t matter who I was with, Kurt! What matters is I was by myself. I needed you. I need you around and you weren’t there.
The whole weekend had been a blur. Its only redemption, from the long flights to the drive from the Dayton airport to the lackluster play and Kurt screaming at Blaine in the hallway, was getting a few hours alone with his dad. In all these months away from Lima, Kurt had never realized what he needed was a mug of warm milk, a heavy, secure arm around his shoulders, and a Top Gear marathon.
A less desperate man would have been embarrassed to fall dead asleep under his father’s weight and warmth, probably murmuring a little as he sagged into his father’s body and probably distracted him from the TV.
“-so there’s no reason we can’t come back from this,” Rachel babbled pausing only a minute to gesture with her hand, “stronger than ever!”
Kurt didn’t answer. He turned his head, narrowed his eyes, and rose from his seat. His head felt like it might explode with the pressure of so many words and lies and demands on him.
“Oh, I can... Kurt?” Rachel scooted back, looking up at him with wide eyes.
He ignored her and slipped down the aisle with purpose. A quick smile to the stewardess, and he closed himself in the bathroom. Water. Face. Hands through the hair.
Then he turned to the bowl and emptied his guts into it forcefully. His hand pressed against his mouth, and he fell back against the door, his shoulders shaking.
This is cheating, Kurt!
I was lonely... and I’m really sorry.
Pack your bags up and leave! Don’t you dare come running back to me!
There was a rapping on the door.
“Um, excuse me! Excuse me!”
Kurt rolled his eyes and hit the button, causing a loud whoosh before he opened the door. A woman glared at him and pushed past with her grubby little kid. He touched his stomach and didn’t begin walking back to his seat just yet.
“Can I help you with something, sir?” the lovely mocha-skinned steward asked as he drifted back toward the refreshment cart.
“Just, um... a little sick,” Kurt muttered.
“Oh. Well, do you like ginger ale?” He smiled. Big white teeth. Precious dimples.
He’d just fuck you and break your heart, a sick little voice told Kurt.
“I don’t hate it. Think it’ll help?” Kurt tried to force a smile.
The steward bent over and lingered, looking for the right can. Almost automatically, Kurt’s hand flickered over to the cart. His fingers wrapped around several little bottles and slipped them in his pocket.
“Here we go.” The steward’s rich brown eyes twinkled at him. “You can have the can. I hope it works! Would you like some ice?”
“Yeah. Please.” His lips tried again at the smiling thing.
“You look...” The steward snagged a cup and filled it with ice. “Let’s get you back to your seat.”
“I’ll be okay. I always am,” Kurt muttered, his voice hitting that weird, low gravelly sound that it seemed to have discovered since Blaine had spoken in the park and with mere words removed the firmament from their world. He could feel the little bottles clinking in his pocket.
Blaine slumped back into a chair covered in cardigans, took a swig from his beer, and hit the play button one more time on his computer. The flatscreen came to life with the beginning of their Christmas special from last year, with himself and Kurt doing their Christmas duet, scat singing and prancing around.
He remembered Rachel urging Kurt to send an addendum to his NYADA application after it had aired. As Kurt ended up putting his application together at the last minute, no presidency, no big part in the school play, Kurt’s spirits had been low, as though he already knew what would be the ultimate reward of all his efforts to get into the school of his dreams. In the end, he was just scribbling down anything he could think of and shooting names of things at Blaine to see if it sounded like it might be good on a resume.
”Okay, so... Cheerios, New Directions, Warblers, the shop, French club... Do you think I can put freelance designing on there? For the outfits?”
Blaine shrugged and then nodded. He looked around the coffee shop and then took a sip of his latte.
“Maybe... Add the Lima Bean? It’s not like they’ll reject me from working here.”
“Well, probably not. If they’re hiring.”
Kurt frowned. “I’m putting prom queen on here,” he said flippantly as he filled in the boxes with small, neat letters.
Blaine bowed over laughing.
“If these pubescent chimps are going to give me the honor, I’m taking credit for it.”
“Well.” Blaine fought his smile valiantly as his hand moved soothingly over Kurt’s back. He could see Sebastian grinning at him on the other side of the shop. “That’s the idea. I’ll be right back?”
Kurt nodded as he tapped his pencil on the table. “Maybe I’ll ask Rachel...”
Blaine finished the bottle and set it on the dresser with the others. Now, here he was. Boyfriendless and directionless. Kurt wasn’t ever going to forgive him. And it was like everyone at the club was just tired of hearing about it. Didn’t anyone care how he felt?
“I hope they didn’t get lost in this dreadful weather!” Kurt on the television said, shuddering as he spoke.
”God, I sound like a grandma and a grandpa there,” Kurt muttered.
Mercedes chuckled and squeezed Kurt’s shoulder. They were all sitting around the choir room, looking at the copy of their television accomplishment.
Blaine squeezed his hand. “We really stuck all the moves in that song without it looking artificial. This was way more fun than doing the play.”
“Well, there’s a difference between doing your own creative works and reviving someone else’s script that’s been done the same way a frillion times,” Kurt said dryly.
Artie’s eyes flickered over to them, but Kurt didn’t see him. Blaine gave Artie an apologetic smile.
“Well, doing a fresh arrangement is one of you hobbies, isn’t it?” he said.
Kurt shrugged. “I have to rearrange everything. I’m not the kind of performer that can just step into a pre-fabbed role. And I’m just not destined for pre-fab, I guess.”
“Well. Not everyone can be a Zeffron.”
Kurt rolled his eyes and pulled his hand back, sucking his cheeks.
“You’re more like um...” Blaine searched for an actor that seemed appropriate.
“Heath Ledger,” Sam said. “Doing like, weird characters, like in Rocky Horror.”
“You’re a chameleon, baby,” Mercedes said. “You’re a star.”
Kurt bowed his head. “Blaine’s our star. You’re just confused. Because of all the glitter.”
Puck and Mike howled in laughter. Kurt’s bright expression faded a little.
Blaine bit his lip and squeezed Kurt closer to him. It was the holidays, and Kurt was a little bluesy, but Blaine felt good. He knew how to make him smile again, and his parents were out of town that weekend.
Blaine’s door opened. He bolted up, chucking the bottles into the wastebasket and turning around defensively. Instead of his father’s crisp suit and trademarked slim, red tie were Cooper’s flashing white teeth, perfect hair, and too-tight black shirt.
“Relax, baby brother.” His nose wrinkled. “Damn, I didn’t know you were throwing a party this weekend.”
“I’m not.” Blaine paused the video and slumped back in his chair.
Cooper raised a brow. He grabbed a chair for himself and sat on it backwards. “Sorry I didn’t make it back for your play.”
“I had a small part, anyway.”
“Well, that sucks. Who do I complain to? What jerks, cutting you out of the lead during your senior year, just ‘cause you’ve gained a couple of pounds.”
Blaine glared at him. “I have not. And I told them I didn’t want it. I can’t focus on anything right now because of the break up.”
“Break up? You were dating someone? Someone hot?” Cooper leaned forward.
Blaine tilted his head to the side. “Really? You met Kurt!”
“Ohhh, oh, right. You were still with that guy? Well.” Cooper shrugged. “Really. You could do better, looks-wise. And he’s such a drama queen. All these super intense fights? Maybe it’s better this way. Do you really need the stress he caused?”
“What are you even talking about? Kurt was a great boyfriend. He brought me flowers and stuffed animals when I was stressed, and he checked up on my car, and he sang to me, and with me...” Blaine pressed his hand to his chest and looked at the ceiling, scrunching up his eyes and sighing piteously.
“Hang on.” Cooper got up and started looking around the nightstand.
“You’re clutching, but you forgot your pearls.”
“This isn’t funny!” Blaine exploded. He shot out of his chair and turned to get his wallet.
“Oh, c’mon.” Cooper grabbed him around his shoulders in a hug. “Look, I’m sure you guys cared about each other, but you were just high school boyfriends. I went through about four or five major relationships in high school. It’s not a big thing. In a few years, you’ll see that it was for the best.”
“You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“I never thought Kurt was all that good for you, anyway. I mean, don’t you want a guy who’s more of a guy and less of a nagging wife?”
“Get off me. You always give terrible advice.” Blaine slipped down out of Cooper’s grasp.
“You want some advice? Forget whatever stupid little thing Kurt freaked out and dumped you over, and start dating hotter guys.”
Blaine grabbed his jacket. “Leave me alone.”
“And stop drinking. You’re getting a beer gut,” Cooper called after him.
Blaine paused on the top of the stairs and touched his abs. Okay, they weren’t as flat as they’d been a year... or so... ago, but it wasn’t that bad, was it? Kurt had never minded his abs being not quite as abulous as Sam’s.
He jogged down the staircase and grabbed his keys from the table by the door before anyone else could see him, though he didn’t think that either of his parents were home. He confirmed it as he reached the driveway, where his dark blue Audi TT sat next to Cooper’s obnoxious orange Mini-Coop. His parents’ cars were nowhere in sight.
He hopped in, turned the key, and waited for a moment to start up. Despite putting a car together the summer before starting high school, Blaine didn’t really have a glut of knowledge of how cars worked. Not beyond the basics, and the Mustang he and his father had put together differed a lot from the Audi. They’d sold the car they’d put together to get Blaine his car, and after a few years, the thing kept lagging between gears, and sometimes he’d shift between and end up nowhere. The dealer kept telling him he was driving the stick wrong, but he’d learned on his dad’s saucy Lexus IS F, so it wasn’t his bad driving.
Today he was lucky enough, and managed to pull out and get on the road. He wasn’t sure where he was headed. Maybe coffee, or Scandals? But before he’d gotten too far, he attempted to shift between second and third gear and the car slowed to a stop. A car whizzed past him and his heart pounded. His head was also whirling, and he knew that it had been a mistake to leave the house. How many had he had?
The dealer was too far and wouldn’t be open at this hour. He needed to get back to the house, but if his gears were sticking this bad, he might not make it... or he could call Cooper and see if his brother would bother to pick him up. He probably would, with commentary all the way. Still, Blaine pulled out his phone and dialed the number. No answer.
He pulled the stick again, trying to go back to second, then tried first. He took a breath and shifted back into second, and kept going for a bit. Then he spotted 11th street and realized how close he was to Mr. Hummel’s shop. He took the right turn and lurched on forward. He pulled into the parking lot and got out, looking around to see if anyone was still in the shop. A figure moved past the window, and Blaine felt a wave of relief. He went inside.
Burt was leaning over his work desk, and an older gentleman (Cassius maybe?) was out on the floor with his head popped under a truck. Blaine took a breath as he looked around. He remembered visiting Kurt here, during summer mostly. Kurt knew his way around the shop. He didn’t exactly love Blaine’s car, either, and had spent some time with his shirt stripped off and his eyes on Blaine’s engine, wearing a frown that he normally reserved for an outfit or arrangement that was critically flawed in some way he couldn’t work out. Blaine was beginning to lose the love for his Audi himself.
“Oh, hey!” Burt rose from his desk the moment he spotted Blaine in the doorway.
“Hey. Um. My car... It’s probably too late for uh...”
“Did you get in a wreck? Are you okay?” Burt moved around the desk more quickly than Blaine had expected. Blaine blinked several times, trying to gather his thoughts. It was always a little awkward now around Burt, because Kurt hadn’t even talked to his dad about them breaking up right away. He wasn’t sure what Burt knew about why Kurt had dumped him.
“No, I’m just having trouble getting it to go when I shift gears.” Words tumbled carelessly out of Blaine’s mouth. “I called my brother, but I guess he went out... or... If it’s too late to look at it, maybe I could just leave it here so it doesn’t get towed?”
“We won’t tow it. What’s the make and model?” Burt came closer and peered outside.
“Audi TT-S. It’s the dark blue?” Blaine looked up at Burt, who had a grumpy expression on.
“Well, we can take a good look in the morning.” He hitched his hands on his hips as he stared at it. Same as Kurt’s ‘Why is this outfit just wrong?’ look. “Could be a couple of things. Audis got a few common problems. Timing belts, which can wreck your whole engine, or transmission. If you take it to the dealer, they’ll probably want to replace the whole thing, and that’ll run around $6,000.”
“Six... thousand?” Blaine leaned forward as if struck by the number.
“We’ll check, though. If we can just replace the mechatronic unit to get you limping, then that’s a bit... well, it’s not cheap, but it’s no six grand. I’d never have let Kurt get an Audi, honestly. Repairs cut too damn deep. Relax a bit, son. We’ll see what’s wrong before we try to charge y’for anything, and at least get an estimate to see if the dealer will do anything. Promise.” Burt looked to him. “I c’n set you up with a rental...”
Blaine raised his brows as Burt trailed off. His gaze grew sterner and sterner, until Blaine had the urge to bolt from the garage. This was much like he’d expected Burt to greet him, most of the time, but it had come out of nowhere. Where would Blaine go if his car wouldn’t move?
Burt leaned in, then suddenly grabbed the front of his shirt and pulled him forward. Blaine flailed backward a little, but was otherwise too stunned to fight it. Burt sniffed twice. Then he shook his head and let Blaine go.
“Have you been drinking??” he boomed.
Heat rushed to Blaine’s cheeks. “I-I uh...”
Cassius turned his head toward them.
Blaine was only able to hold Burt’s gaze for a second before casting his eyes onto the floor, completely unable to face Burt Hummel’s disappointment and fury. Burt touched his back once more.
“Cass, I’m takin’ Blaine home. When you’ve finished, go ahead and lock up, okay?”
“No problem,” Cassius said smoothly.
Burt was barely touching him, but Blaine felt as though he was forcibly guided out to a black, four-door truck, and before he knew it, he was buckled into the passenger seat and being driven home.
“I’m sorry-” he started.
“Don’t wanna hear it.”
Blaine covered his mouth and leaned into the side of the car door. He had a brief mental image of jumping out of the car and escaping, but again, it was no real solution.
“You have got to care more what happens to you,” Burt said after awhile. They were nearly to Blaine’s house, and Blaine was surprised that Burt remembered the way. “You have to think. You probably got lucky, with your car being broken. Y’smell like a bar. You shouldn’t be driving, and you could get yourself friggin’ killed, okay? You could fucking kill someone else!”
Blaine said nothing. He just focused on breathing.
Burt pulled the car over and turned on the inside lights. “I’m not trying to... Look, you’re drivin’ me crazy.”
Blaine looked over in confusion.
“You could die. Do you care about that? You could wrap that sports car around a tree and die.” Burt licked his lips and sighed. His hand dragged over his mouth. “You could hurt yourself, or take someone else away from their family. If a cop had come over while you had trouble on the road, you’d have that on your record for the rest of your life...”
Burt’s hand moved as though to touch him, but pulled back.
“I’m not your father. You don’t gotta listen to me, but I sure as hell don’t want to have to watch your family put you in the Goddamn ground.”
Blaine’s eyes stung. “I didn’t mean to... I was just trying to get out of the house.”
“Well. Maybe we can find another way to get you outta the house without breaking your neck.” Burt took another breath and turned his head to stare out the window.
Was he really that upset?
“I’ll be more careful,” Blaine promised.
“You’d better be.” Burt dipped his head, still avoiding Blaine’s gaze.
The gesture was familiar. Another family thing, avoiding Blaine’s eyes to avoid the rush of emotion that would come from looking at him. Imagining the awful thing he’d done. Or imagining him bloodied and lifeless in the proverbial ditch on the side of the road... Imagining someone else he loved bloodied and lifeless in a ditch on the side of the road?
“Is anyone at your house? Your brother?” Burt said finally. He eyed Blaine with all the gruffness he could muster.
“And he just let you go out? Like this?”
Blaine shrugged. “I don’t think he realized that I left.”
Burt scratched the back of his head, then started the car up again. There was silence until they reached the house, and then Burt turned to him.
“I’ll give you a call before then about your car before Friday, and we’ll figure out what to do about it.”
It might have been the alcohol, but Blaine’s head was spinning from this conversation.
“Okay,” he found himself agreeing. As if he would ever refuse.
“If your brother’s home, I’d like to have a word with him.” Burt opened the door. It seemed that he had every intention of walking Blaine into the house.
So Blaine followed him, letting Burt in. His mother still wasn’t home, thankfully, so he just called out for Cooper, who was redirected outside by Burt, and the two of them disappeared for nearly twenty minutes.
When Cooper finally entered the kitchen, where Blaine had been unearthing some leftovers for dinner, his brother stared at him for a moment, then wrapped his arms around him in a huge bear hug.
“Um... what’s going on?” Blaine muffled through Cooper’s chest.
He let go and went to the refrigerator and started pulling out beers. At first, Blaine wondered why, since Coop usually avoided alcohol for the calories... until he started methodically opening each one and pouring them down the sink.
“Hey!” Blaine protested.
Cooper swiveled around. “You are eighteen fucking years old! If you need something to take the edge off, I’ll make you a damn cocoa!”
Blaine stepped back and crossed his arms as he watched as Cooper drained his entire supply of alcohol. Not just Blaine’s. Their father’s. Then he cracked open the bottle of wine waiting in the refrigerator and poured that out, too.
“Mom’s not going to like that,” Blaine muttered.
“They’ll deal with it. Or I’ll tell her I drank it, or something.” Cooper looked at the door to the pantry for a moment.
“I won’t,” Blaine said automatically. “Don’t, Coop. Mom will flip out if you pour those wines out.”
“You’re just eighteen,” Cooper said quietly. He leaned over the sink for a moment, sucking in his lower lip. Blaine listened to his breathing, quietly, waiting for something. Another explosion, maybe.
Instead, Cooper came over and rubbed his hand over Blaine’s hair. “You want me to order a pizza or something? That crap in the fridge is over two weeks old.”
“I guess.” Blaine shrugged. “If you want to.”
“Well, the last thing we need now is food poisoning.” Cooper put his hands on his hips and squinted at the take-out menus covering the fridge.
“Maybe some glasses would help,” Blaine said.
Cooper smirked. “I’m not old. I don’t need glasses.”
“So you claim on your resume,” Blaine teased, lightly.
“Go put something on the Blu-ray.” Cooper pulled out his phone. “Well. Damn. I forgot to turn it back on.” He shrugged. “Well, it’s on now. Pizza incoming.”
“You never eat pizza.”
“I do tonight. I might take the cheese off.” Cooper started dialing.
“That’s no fun.” Blaine leaned forward on the counter.
Cooper peered over at the casserole. “Hm. Maybe this once. Hi! Yeah, I’d like to place an order... delivery.” He grabbed the whole dish and took it over to the trash, turning it upside down and knocking it heavily against the inside.
Blaine hugged his arms around himself and walked into the den, where he kicked off his shoes and curled up onto the sofa. It wasn’t as comfortable as the one in Kurt’s house. Maybe that was just association. He wondered if he could still go over there to visit Sam now that Burt had caught him drinking. He really didn’t know if Burt knew about anything between him and Kurt. Couldn’t, until he got it out of Sam or Finn, since Kurt wasn’t talking to him.
Cooper came flying over the back of the sofa and landed next to him.
“Keep ‘em guessing!”
“You wouldn’t crash on the sofa if mom were here.”
“Well, she’s not. Her loss. More pizza for us.” Cooper picked up the remote and started flipping through channels. He grabbed Blaine with one arm and held him close.
By the time he’d gotten used to the weight of his brother around him, the doorbell was ringing with the pizza.
“Don’ you worry, girl. Silicone floats!”
Laughter pealed all around Kurt. Isabelle curled around his arm and walked with him over to a group of her friends. On the other side of the room, Rachel and Brody were back to their weird heterosexual mating games.
“Heeey. What can I get you, sweetie? Anything?” Isabelle asked.
“No, no, um... I’m okay. I’ll be okay.”
“Yeah, yeah. That’s what they all say.” Isabelle drew her lips to the side slowly. “Is this all too much? I thought it would be fun...”
“No, it is. Everyone’s singing, and laughing. I’ve never had a party where so many people came,” Kurt said.
“Oooh, girl!” a tall drag queen said.
“Oh, shoo, Tifa.” Isabelle waved her off. She looked up at Kurt’s face, her eyes creasing on the sides.
“Really. Thank you. The distraction is nice, and I don’t really get out to enjoy this kind of thing.”
“Well, why not?”
Kurt shrugged. “I work a lot.”
“Ooo! Was that a read?” she laughed.
“That’s not reading you. It’s a self-read. When I’m stressed, I focus. I hyper focus. I focus myself into the ground.”
Isabelle took his hand and petted it. “Well, I’m glad to have you, but take care of yourself, okay? The first big love is just so hard to get over. Give yourself the time to heal. You’ve earned it. And get back out there at your own pace. You’re just at the beginning of things! Did he...?”
“I told him we’ll talk about it at Christmas. And that... I’m trying. But I’m not there yet.”
Isabelle nodded. She started to speak again as a heavy beat started to pound out through their stereo:
She touched her ears, and motioned to the hallway. Kurt shook his head, lifted her hand and pulled her out into the open space to dance. She nodded and threw her arms in the air.
Give it everything you’ve got! Tryin’ to make it to the top! Never ever gonna stop! Even if you get the chop chop chop chop...
“You’re a good dancer, kiddo,” Isabelle said.
“No, no, I’m not. My ex was a muuuch better dancer than me.”
“Yeah, I’m sure he was a reeeegular Ginger Rogers,” Isabelle teased, rolling her eyes, and then she grabbed Kurt’s hands and pulled him back and forth in time to the music. He had to laugh.
At some point, Kurt thought he saw one or two of his neighbors drift in. The first for sure was Warren, from downstairs. He was yelling at the drag queens, but somehow he got sucked into the kiki. Shangela snatched his glasses off his head, and the next time Kurt spotted him, he was wearing a sparkly wrap and dancing like he wasn’t a hugely out of place dorkball.
It was surprising how many people could fit into one loft apartment with sparse furniture and blaring club music. This had to be some kind of hazard. Fire, probably.
“Bitch, where have you been!” one of the girls yelled. She wrapped her arms around a tiny girl with long, slightly curled black hair and an iridescent dress that looked like it had been folded meticulously from special Christmas wrapping paper.
“Girl! There was traffique!” The girl in the shining dress kissed either of her friend’s cheeks, and lifted her head to look around. Her skin was warm, golden, rosy; carefully contoured with make-up, thick eyeliner. Little jewels framed her large almond-shaped eyes.
Kurt suddenly felt tired. He touched Isabelle’s shoulder and pointed to the kitchen. She started to follow him, but he mouthed, “I’m fine, fine. Go dance!”
Her brow creased, but she let him go.
All in all, he felt lucky to have Isabelle. What other fairy had a godmother willing to throw him a kiki on Thanksgiving just because he was feeling down? He knew it wasn’t that Isabelle couldn’t find something else to do. She had all of the Glitterati to hang with, if she chose. Her friends had brought too much wine and food for this to be completely impromptu.
“Hi hi hi!” the girl in the shining dress chirruped, snaking her tiny body around Kurt to reach a bottle of wine. “Strawberry!”
“I think that’s blush,” he said.
Her lashes were thick, glued on, and her lips were pouty and full, but painted with a demure, pearly pink to let her eyes be the focus of the artwork she had created for the evening. They were large, hazel with a hint of gold. Kurt was imagining a design for a t-shirt featuring her eyes when she spoke again.
“Pink’s good enough for me.” She emptied the bottle into her wine glass. “This is a nice place for out in Nowheresville.”
“Not everyone can afford to live in Manhattan.”
She shook the bottle, then looked around, and tossed it in the recycle bin. “I know I can’t! But I do anyway.” She laughed and did a little wriggle with her shoulders and arms, then sipped the wine. “Mmm, plush blush. Baby Bee brought good stuff.”
Kurt shrugged. “I don’t know who that is.”
“Ahh.” White-tipped pink nails circled around the rim of the glass. “She kai-kais with Tifa. The taaaaall one. Of course, everyone is tall to me. You been in the scene long?”
“Not at all, actually.”
“Really?” She looked him up and down. “But you’re cuuute. Don’t be shy! We’ll take you down to some of the good spots, sometime... Wear less, though. The boys’ll crawl all over you!”
“I could do without that, I think.”
“Oh no.” She leaned on the counter. “Don’t be saaad, pretty boy. I hate it when pretty boys can’t smile.”
She stuck her lip far out, and Kurt smiled a little at the overdone and clearly buzzed performance. He didn’t know if her bubbly personality was innate or due to inebriation. He looked more closely at her dress.
“That is Christmas wrapping paper!”
“You like!” she squealed. She twirled around. “I’m a prezzie!”
“I love. How did you get here in the rain?”
Kurt laughed. She wiggled again and emptied her glass.
“Dance with me, pretty!” She held out her hand.
It wasn’t until they were moving together to the music that Kurt realized that she was another drag queen. Something about having been taken in, having been fooled by someone else’s gender instead of his own being under inspection the way it had always seemed at home, lifted Kurt’s spirits immensely. There were so many different kinds of people here, people he’d never had had the chance to know before.
Kurt spent the rest of the night dancing and talking to fabulous divas of various genders. It was like the New York clubs had been deposited into his apartment. And Kurt decided that he really needed to stop mourning his life. He couldn’t force himself to forgive Blaine before he was ready, and he couldn’t force himself to be ready. He’d tried.
He just had to let things play out, and stop trying to control absolutely everything. Closing the door to a less than fairytale romance with Blaine didn’t mean he couldn’t have a happy ending. And it certainly wasn’t the end of everything for him. Kurt was in New York. It was time to choose to just live.