Cut the Cord

Chapter 28

Blaine dozes for the rest of the night, flitting in and out of consciousness and blearily searching for the clock on the nightstand each hour. The little red numbers mock him through their reluctance to change, and Blaine grows increasingly frustrated that isn’t morning already; it’s not like he’s going to get any more sleep. Not the deep, restful kind anyway.

Kurt is breathing heavily next to him, not snoring exactly, just puffing out little breaths through his nose. Blaine envies his ability to sleep like that, senseless to the world, and wonders why he can’t. He had sort of expected that lying in such close proximity to Kurt would allow him to drift off, just like he used to, lulled by the solid security that only having another body next to him can provide. Yet, here he is, unable to sleep despite the groggy tiredness. Maybe it’s because he isn’t actually touching Kurt, they’re not cuddled together like days gone by, and the warmth radiating from the other side of the bed is tapered by the gulf between them.

He remembers the Christmas Eves of his childhood, when he would spend all evening proclaiming that he was way too excited to sleep, and then pass out on top of the covers just before eleven, Cooper or sometimes his father tucking him in on their way up to bed. The following morning, he’d jump up at dawn and wake the whole house up, infectiously enthusiastic at the prospect of opening presents and the traditional family game of Monopoly.

Kurt snuffles next to him and he blinks his eyes slowly, trying to clear his head of the stupid memories. He wonders why he lost that excitement when he turned twelve, but deep down he knows it had nothing to do with discovering Santa wasn’t real; Christmas was not the only thing that changed. Cooper was finishing college and his dad was growing more distant, working longer hours and only spending time with Blaine if a big game was on the television or, later, when he wanted help doing up an old car. It was around this time that Blaine started being teased by his classmates, cutting jibes aimed at his height and appearance, alien words thrown at him which he looked up when he got home.

He remembers the time his mother found him on the big computer in the study, saw the Google search open, and quickly asked him a question about dinner, her tone overly bright as she ignored the definition of ‘faggot’ on the screen. He remembers his parents having whispered arguments when they thought he was asleep, his dad becoming even more aloof, not getting home until after ten each night. He remembers how his perfect grade cards and extra-curricular achievements never impressed his father, how his mother brushed them off with forced smiles and asked him whether he was going to try out for the football team this year, how much his father would like it if he did.

He remembers keeping it to himself as the bullying got worse, not able to stand disappointing his parents further. If I don’t start the battle, there can’t be a war, that was the mentality he adopted as he inched further inside his own head with each locker shove. He remembers how the aftermath of the Sadie Hawkins incident hurt a lot more than the beating itself. His father had smiled that tight smile, eyes flicking passed him to his mother, connecting with an ally and leaving Blaine wondering when he became the enemy in all of it.

He remembers trying to side-step the post-traumatic stress, but instead holding countless memorials inside his mind for what was lost; marking his sacrifice year after year as everyone else looked on politely, their sympathetic expressions telling him to let it go. So he suffered in silence, hand grenade of memories fiddling in his palms, a gift to himself as he smiled and side-stepped in time with the music.

He remembers the nightmares and how his father told him that it needed to stop, that it was unsettling his mother; he started boarding at Dalton not long after that. He wonders why his father accused him of not trying hard enough when Blaine was bending forwards for him, always one step ahead as he was accused of lagging behind. Sometimes he’d be close to giving in and spilling it all out for his dad to see, but every time he’d pause, remind himself that if he didn’t start the first battle, there couldn’t be a war. It was all pointless really; he felt like he’d been shot down regardless sand the bullet hole never quite closed up.

“Mmm…” Kurt stretches, rolling into Blaine, his face smushed against Blaine’s shoulder. Blaine freezes, marvels at how quickly a touch seems foreign as his muscles tense. For a moment he thinks Kurt is still sleeping, but then he feels fingers clench around his forearm as Kurt blinks blearily up at him. “Wha’ time is it?”

Blaine’s always found Kurt’s tired slurring adorable; he’s usually so articulate and there’s something vulnerable about him before he’s regained his mental fierceness.

“Six-forty-two,” Blaine informs him after a quick glance at the derisive red numbers.

“Ughh…early…” Kurt’s eyes are sliding shut again and Blaine wants to scream at him to stay awake. Don’t leave me alone in the dark, please, I hate listening to my own thoughts so much.

It takes Kurt a moment, but he seems to eventually realise that what he’s cuddling against may as well be a stone for how tense Blaine is.

“…s’matter?” He asks and Blaine cringes; Kurt doesn’t want to listen to more of Blaine’s whining, he did enough of that earlier. He shakes his head, turning it away from Kurt on the pillow and forcing his back to relax into the mattress. Kurt uses the hand on Blaine’s chest to push himself up, squinting at Blaine through the gloom. “Seriously, what’s wrong?” He sounds more alert now and Blaine kicks himself for waking him up.

“Nothing—I’m just being stupid.”

He may only be able to half-see, but he can feel the look that Kurt gives him.

“I’m just…thinking about life.” He corrects half-truthfully.

“Care to share?” Kurt has settled back down again, a little close for Blaine’s liking—or maybe the problem is that he likes it too much.

“No, it’s fine. It’s nothing you don’t already know, not really.”

“Ok.” And Kurt lets it go, just like that; he always proves Blaine wrong in one way or another. “D’you want to get up then? Or—” He pauses, almost catching himself, but not quite quick enough to stop the idea infiltrating him. “Or I can give you one of those backrubs that help you sleep?”

It shouldn’t feel like transgressing a boundary, but it does. Blaine sort of wishes Kurt hadn’t hesitated; he really needs one of them to be resolute right now. He suspends himself in freefall for a moment and then the realisation hits him: he can be the resolute one, if only in the smallest of ways.

“I’d really like that.” It’s quiet, but it’s certain and he feels Kurt smile against his shoulder.

He rolls over, wiggling until his neck is comfortable and he can breathe properly, for once not thinking about how easily the pillow could stop his air intake for good. Kurt starts to trace patterns over his pyjama top, brushes of the fingertip slowly morphing into a harder, more massage-like pressure. Blaine focusses on the sensation and forgets that it’s Christmas Eve and his parents are free of him this year, forgets that it’s Kurt lying next to him, causing this feeling, forgets that life is the most infuriating thing in the world. He allows himself to float away into a skyline permeated by high-rise buildings and replicated dreams. It doesn’t feel scary exactly, more exhilarating, as he meanders into the darkness, safe from the wind, but far away from the chaos below him.

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