Cut the Cord

Chapter 32

It’s like he can’t catch a break at school when he goes to his locker that Friday only to find two jocks waiting for him, slushies in each hand. The four drinks drench him, one of them actually gets poured over his head, ensuring that both his hair and clothes are ruined before second period. He stands still for a moment, waits for the laughter to die out, and feels a tap on his shoulder. Wiping the horrible liquid from his eyes, he makes out Tina next to him, holding out a towel.

“Wow, what was that for?” She asks sympathetically, dabbing at his arm in a useless but well-meaning gesture.

“Do they even need a reason?” He mumbles back. “May I have this please? I think I’m going to go and change.”

He wrestles his spare clothes from the back of his locker and makes it to an empty bathroom, deciding he’ll just have to skip his second lesson.

It takes a good half an hour, but he manages to rinse the worst of it out of his hair. He decides to leave it gel-free for the rest of the day; it’s not like he’s got anyone to impress here, not anymore, and the bullies are going to make fun of him either way. He changes quickly and checks the time on his phone. Apparently he has a text from Kurt so he leans on the sink to read it.

Why am I hearing about slushy attacks from Tina?

Blaine can practically hear Kurt’s indignation bleeding out of the little black words and snorts.

Because I survived and didn’t want to worry you? Blaine texts back, checks his timetable as he waits for the reply. He has History which is one of those subjects he used to love in middle-school, but is now just sort of apathetic to. It doesn’t help that his teacher, Mrs Pickett, is definitely leaning towards homophobic and seems to favour the meathead athletes no matter how dreadful at interpreting historical documents they are. In fact, now that he thinks about it, maybe he doesn’t like history at all.

Do you want me to ring?

Blaine’s touched by the gesture because he knows Kurt must be busy with classes. Nah, I’m fine. Rain check til this evening?

Of course <3

Blaine takes a deep breath and eyes himself sceptically in the mirror; it’s not great but it’ll have to do. It’s not like Mrs Pickett is going to warm to him either way.

Slushy attacks aside, his life feels like it’s finally getting back on track. He’s catching up in his classes (although it’s a painfully slow process and he’s growing to detest math) and hanging out with his Glee friends again. And then there’s the fact that he and Kurt are comfortable once more. They talk to each other almost every night and Kurt is definitely working at listening, he nearly always asks Blaine about his day.

And then he and Kurt get into a sort-of fight. It’s kind of inevitable, really; the more comfortable they get with each other, the more time they spend talking, the more they get under each other’s defences. It’s good and Blaine wouldn’t have it any other way, but it‘s also clear that both of them are more reluctant to let their guards down this time around; they know what it’s like to be kicked from the inside. So even as they become more comfortable with each other, there’s an underlying tension fluttering just beneath the surface and it swells imperceptibly, becomes the house of cards in the room that neither of them mentions. The fight really is inevitable when Blaine thinks about it.

It starts when he gets home from school one Thursday afternoon after a day that feels heavy on his skin, clings to his pores when he tries to shake it off. He dumps his bag in his room, gets himself a drink and rings Kurt. He gets no response and that’s fine, he knows it’s a little early for their daily phone conversation. But Kurt doesn’t call him back all evening which is a rare event and this time he doesn’t even ping Blaine a text to explain. He just doesn’t contact Blaine. Which is fine, Blaine tells himself, resolutely ignoring the fluttering cards in his peripheral vision. Nothing is going to collapse on his watch, not this time.

The next day finds Blaine sat in Glee, mindlessly scrolling through his Facebook feed on his phone (he’s trying to stay engaged, he is, but there’s only so much melodrama over costumes a person can take). He’s grinning at a picture of Sam’s sister in a Darth Vader helmet when he sees it: a photo of Kurt and two other guys dressed in sweats and tank-tops, posed in what looks like a dance studio.

It’s not the picture that bothers him, Kurt looks happy and the shot is fun, but as soon as he goes to like it and sees the comment underneath, he freezes.

Looking cute, Kurt!

Blaine can practically hear the stupid British accent as he stares at Adam’s comment. And, yes, it could be construed as a friendly, offhand statement—Kurt does look cute—but Blaine can’t help the way his heartbeat picks up as he tunes out of Mr Schue’s speech completely. He’s not sad, or panicking, or self-destructing, he’s just…jealous. Jealous like he used to get whenever a guy got too flirty with Kurt — when he’d pull Kurt a little closer to him, kiss him for just a beat too long and Kurt would look at him with wide eyes, as if unable to believe that Blaine would get possessive over him. So Blaine doesn’t see red, but his vision is definitely tinted-green as he types out his own response.

Even cuter without the sweatpants, not that you’d know that…

It’s not a very Blaine-like comment and it’s sort of crude and Blaine feels guilty as soon as he posts it, but not guilty enough to delete it. Plus, it makes him feel better when he imagines Adam reading the comment, smug smile drooping off his annoying face. Mr Schue half-heatedly reprimands him for being on his phone and he slips it back into his pocket, happy to cross his arms over his chest and concentrate on the great blue vs purple dress debate.

Kurt rings him up when he’s barely set foot inside his house (almost as if he has timed it exactly, as if he’s been waiting for Blaine to get home). Blaine grins, dropping his bag in the hallway and making his way to his room.

“Hey, Ku—”

“How dare you?” Kurt’s voice is sharpened to a point, slicing through Blaine as he stops on the landing.

“What?” He says stupidly even though he’s pretty sure he knows what this is about.

“You know exactly what I’m talking about. How dare you?” Kurt repeats, and Blaine imagines his eyes narrowed, glowering at the wall in place of Blaine’s face.

“Yeah, I—sorry. I just saw his comment and couldn’t help replying.”

Kurt coughs out a laugh, Blaine can hear the way it almost gets stuck in his throat. “And what a lovely reply it was. Do you think I want to be discussed like some sort of sex object?”

“Well, he started—“

“News flash, Blaine, we haven’t even slept together since last summer!” And there it is, isn’t it, the thing that Blaine has been afraid of, the thing that makes the jealousy flare up slightly stronger than before; he can no longer stake his claim on Kurt because he technically doesn’t have a claim, not anymore. “And even if we had, what makes you think I’d want you to post that disgusting comment publically?”

Blaine winces. “I’m sorry, okay? I just saw the post and he was right, you did look cute, and I guess I got a bit….jealous.”

“We’ve been through this so many times: Adam. And. I. Are. Not. Romantically. Involved.” Kurt’s voice is venomous and Blaine really should shut up right about now, but he can’t resist flapping at the air with his hands, giving the final push that makes the house of cards collapse.

“Yeah, but I love you, Kurt, and I don’t like other gay, attractive men calling you cute. Is that so hard to understand?”

There’s a tiny beat and he hardly has time to think don’t say it, please don’t say it before Kurt is speaking again.

“Blaine, are you even aware of how hypocritical you’re being right now?”

He is aware, he’s very aware when he says the words that he has no right to say them, but that doesn’t make them untrue. Yes, he cheated and, yes, that’s way worse than Adam having a stupid, unrequited crush on Kurt, but he can still be jealous. For a start, Adam is in New York with Kurt while Blaine is here, hating McKinley and counting down the days until graduation all by himself. Blaine is here with entire states between them, and as the silence drags on, it feels even further.

He feels the breath leave him as Kurt sighs, put-upon and fed up, and a familiar surge of guilt flows from his chest into his extremities.

“At least Adam’s mature about things.” Kurt says, and it lacks all of his usual finesse, but somehow the bluntness of it makes it hurt more. Blaine’s stomach drops.

And then the guilt is merging into anger and he hears himself whisper, “Fuck you,” before he hangs up, but he doesn’t feel his mouth move; it’s like he’s watching a film where the protagonist is nothing like him and yet so, so relatable at the same time.

He sits at his desk for a moment, hand over his mouth, not to keep sobs in, but because he can’t believe he just said that. Oh, God, he just said that to Kurt. But also, and perhaps more worryingly, he doesn’t regret it. Blaine shouldn’t have made the crude comment, but Kurt’s reaction shouldn’t have been to push Blaine away again, definitely shouldn’t have been to deliver the low blow that was his last statement. Blaine might have been immature, but Kurt wasn’t much better.

Kurt doesn’t call him back and for a few minutes Blaine remains perfectly still, stunned, feeling the angry fire inside of him surge and retract in little oscillations. It takes him a moment, but then it hits him that it’s his fire. He’s not feeding off of Kurt’s emotions, or anyone’s for that matter; this is just Blaine and his anger at the whole ridiculous fight. The thought excites him and the flames ignite further, making him laugh into the silent house. It might burn like hell, but Blaine doesn’t care because he just told Kurt to fuck off and he doesn’t feel numb; he feels alive.

He gets his breathing under control again and then picks up his phone once more. He finds Sam’s number and doesn’t hesitate before he presses the call button.

“Hey, man, what’s up?” Sam answers, somewhat distractedly.

Blaine could bitch and whine about the whole thing and Sam would be sympathetic in all the right places, even if he didn’t understand the specifics. Blaine could, but he doesn’t want to. “Do you want to come round and play video games?” He asks instead.

“Dude, I’d love to, but I’m about to head to Kitty’s party thingy. You know, the bring-your-own-alcohol-my-parents-are-out-of-town thing she’s hosting?”

Blaine doesn’t know, obviously hasn’t been invited, but he nods along anyway. “Sure, yeah, no worries. Maybe some other—”

“You should totally come with!” Sam interrupts enthusiastically, a loud thunk in the background. “Shit. Just tripped over the stupid…” His voice trails off as he presumably checks for damages.

He almost declines, but then he thinks about how he doesn’t burn bridges, he just stops using them and lets them crumble away from disuse.

“Sam? You okay?” He waits until Sam grunts his assent before continuing. “I’ll come if you don’t think she’ll mind.”

“Kitty? Nah, just bring a bottle of something and she won’t care. I’ll see you in like an hour?”

“Sounds good, thanks Sam.”

He feels the little spark still ignited in his gut and knows he made the right choice, especially when his dad even offers to drive him and collect him later so he can have a few drinks. He’s not going to let anymore bridges fall down, even if he risks igniting them in the process.

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