When Kurt wakes up the next morning, he is full of hope. Yesterday, he’d stopped pretending and now he knows. He knows that Blaine isn’t ok, not even close, and it’s going to take more than a pat on the back and a cup of tea to make him better. A lot more. And that’s fine, because the more Kurt thought about it yesterday, the more he realised that he hadn’t exactly been a good friend to Blaine. And, yes, Blaine had cheated on him and Kurt had every right to be angry, but he should have reached out more, even if it was only through Finn or Tina, and made sure Blaine was actually ok. He shouldn’t have interpreted the radio silence as hurtful apathy. After all, Kurt hadn’t been the only one to lose his other half that night.
Looking back over those fateful few weeks beforehand, though, it’s suddenly very clear that they hadn’t been healthy for a while. In fact, it had felt like Kurt had been the only one in the relationship long before Blaine broke it. And he thinks maybe that was his own fault; he was so wrapped up in his own bubble of growingupnewyorkvoguebusyexciting that he’d forgotten Blaine had his own different and decidedly smaller bubble around him. Even when they had talked on the phone for an hour straight, they’d simply been talking at each other. Well, admittedly Kurt had done most of the talking, but still, the point remained that they hadn’t been healthy and neither of them had done anything to rectify that. Blaine might have smashed their relationship to pieces, but it was already so badly cracked that he hadn’t needed to hit it very hard.
He’s also realised that Blaine’s condition isn’t entirely to do with him; he has (somewhat self-centredly) been under the assumption that Blaine broke down entirely because of their break-up. But whilst break-ups make people feel sad, they most certainly shouldn’t prompt people to kill themselves, right? Surely there has to be more to it than that and, now that Kurt thinks about it, no one else from McKinley visited Blaine in the hospital (not to his knowledge at any rate). But, again, he doesn’t know anything for sure.
And that’s the other thing; he has to stop pretending he knows what Blaine is thinking and feeling, because he doesn’t—how can he? He wants to, desperately, but he has to wait for Blaine to tell him in his own time and in his own way. He has to be patient and he has to be there for Blaine without asking for anything in return. He can’t ask for Blaine’s love, or his friendship, and he definitely can’t ask him to get better. Because it’s not that simple and he knows that now. But he’s hopeful this morning because Blaine is coming round and they can do whatever Blaine wants to, or needs to, and for once he’s not going to make this day about himself.
He dresses a bit more comfortably than usual, no distracting zips or brooches, and puts a bit less product in his hair. He wanders down to the kitchen and finds his dad hunched over the stove and he clears his throat loudly.
“Morning, Kurt!” His dad says over his shoulder and then turns round properly at the look on Kurt’s face. “What?” He asks defensively, palms held out.
“Bacon, dad? Really?”
“I just thought Blaine might like some actual food—and don’t give me that look, granola does not come under that category.”
Kurt wants to argue, he really does. After all, the doctors clearly said that his dad needed to watch his diet and fried breakfasts in no way constitute heart-healthy food. But then again, Blaine does love bacon. Sighing, he helps himself to his own bowl of granola (hey, he doesn’t have to sink to their level!) and sits down at the table. His dad joins him a moment later, plateful of bacon and eggs in hand.
“So what’re you kids gonna get up to then?” The question catches Kurt off guard; it’s takes him right back to those first few months of dating when his dad had been in over-protective father mode, wanting to know what Kurt and Blaine were doing 24-7.
“Just…stuff,” Kurt shrugs, unsure how to answer now he’s not attempting to lie about make-out sessions. “Whatever he wants to do, I guess.”
“Well, make sure you don’t push him, Kurt. Just keep things light, ok?” Burt holds his gaze across the table and it’s then that Kurt realises the over-protective father act isn’t for his benefit this time; it’s for Blaine’s.
“Dad, I know,”
“I know you do.” Burt goes back to his food, piling eggs on his fork. “I raised a good kid—apart from his granola obsession, but I’ve learnt to live with that.”
Kurt snorts. “Dad, come on, it’s not that bad.”
The doorbell rings then and Kurt abandons his cereal to go and open the door. Blaine is stood on the front porch in jeans and a hoodie, arms folded awkwardly over his chest. It’s funny because recently his face looks so much older, but the lack of bowties and suspenders paradoxically makes him look younger. Kurt wouldn’t have expected that in a million years.
Blaine still hasn’t gelled his hair either and it reminds Kurt of those rare times when they were home alone all night and he had spent hours persuading Blaine to wash the gel out because he loved the feel of the looser curls in his fingers. Blaine never believed him; Kurt had only succeeded once. And suddenly, he’s giggling because Blaine is voluntarily gel free.
“What?” Blaine asks, his arms tightening around his torso and Kurt doesn’t mean to make him feel self-conscious, he really doesn’t, but it’s just so funny.
“I’m—I’m not laughing at you—it’s just—” He breaks off as another laugh takes a hold of him. “Sorry, it’s just your hair—it’s gel free.”
“Oh,” Blaine says, his forehead creasing as he tries to work out what’s so funny. “I’ve stopped bothering.”
“Mm, well, I like it like this.” Kurt composes himself and reaches out to lightly ruffle Blaine’s hair, not enough to actually mess it up, just touching it really. He sees Blaine’s eyes momentarily widen in surprise before the blank mask returns. It feels a lot like victory.
Kurt leads Blaine through into the kitchen, forcefully not noticing when Blaine doesn’t remove his coat or shoes like he usually would. His dad darts away from the stove, clearly having been sneaking back for seconds.
“I saw that!” Kurt says, pointing an accusing finger in his dad’s direction.
“Aw come on, it’s a Saturday. Blaine, back me up here: bacon’s better than his granola crap, right?”
Blaine merely shrugs in reply, his lack of response reverberating round the kitchen and hitting Kurt in the face. He works to school his expression (he’s meant to be understanding today, damn it), but his dad doesn’t even flinch.
“Right, that’s it, this calls for a taste test.” Kurt watches as he moves back to the stove, this time piling the fried food on a new plate, and then grabs Kurt’s cereal off the shelf, pouring a small amount into a bowl and messily splashing milk onto it. He places both dishes down on the table and holds a spoon and fork out to Blaine.
“Go on, try a bit of each and tell me which is better,” When Blaine doesn’t move, eyeing the fork like a rabbit facing oncoming traffic, Burt simply puts them down next to the food and then eases himself into the chair opposite. After a second, Kurt follows suit, sitting down next to the place set for Blaine. The place he always sits in whenever he comes for dinner.
Blaine stares at the wall for a moment and then sighs heavily, sagging into the seat and picking up the cutlery. He scoops up a forkful and then tips half the contents off again so that the final portion of bacon and eggs he puts into his mouth is minuscule. He chews slowly, gaze firmly fixed on the tablecloth and it takes him far too long to swallow (this is Blaine who, whether Kurt liked it or not, normally had a habit of shovelling food into his mouth Finn-style, especially something as greasy and disgusting as bacon). Kurt wonders whether his throat is still sore from the large amount of pills he swallowed and the resulting air tube that saved his life. This thought gives him the overwhelming urge to reach out and run his fingers along the expanse of Blaine’s neck, from under his chin down to his collarbone, stroking the skin he knows will be slightly scratchy at the top and so, so smooth further down. He has to physically sit on his hands to stop them performing the soothing gesture.
Once Blaine has finally finished with the mouthful of eggs, he moves on to the cereal, carefully laying the fork at the side of the plate before picking up the spoon instead and excavating a little heap of granola to balance on it.
“Nuh-uh,” Kurt says, gesturing to the spoonful. “You have to get milk with it or it isn’t fair.”
Blaine’s eyes twitch upwards slightly and Kurt thinks he might have been suppressing an eye roll, but he does dip the spoon back down and allow a bit of milk to seep onto the metal.
He chews a little quicker this time and Kurt’s dad sits back in his chair, a victorious grin on his face even though Blaine hasn’t yet spoken.
“So, Blaine, which one tastes better?” His dad asks, shooting Kurt a smirk.
Blaine is quiet for a long time, his gaze flicking between the two dishes, and in any other circumstances, Kurt would’ve found it funny how seriously he was taking the decision.
“The eggs.” When he finally speaks, it’s in a quiet, measured voice and he looks up at each of them in turn, briefly catching their gazes before dropping his eyes back to the table and tracing the flowery pattern of the tablecloth with his index finger.
“Ugh, I should’ve known you’d take his side!” Kurt says playfully, mock-glaring at his dad. “Don’t blame me when you’re all dying from heart attacks before you’re even sixty.”
Kurt had meant it as a joke, hadn’t really thought through the implications of his words, but Blaine’s answer makes the smile drop right off his face.
“Nah, trust me, you don’t,” Burt replies before the silence can get awkward and Kurt is eternally grateful for that. “Did you try the hospital food? No one would willingly expose themselves to that crap—not for any length of time anyway.”
Blaine shrugs, twisting his bottom lip into his mouth and continues to trail his fingers over the yellow arches of the flowers.
“Well, I’m just gonna pop to the garage for a couple of hours; Max said the delivery had arrived. Give me a ring if you need anything.” This last part is clearly directed at Kurt and for some reason panic starts to rise inside of him, unbidden, as his dad gets up and squeezes his shoulder before noisily leaving the room.
His stomach flips as he looks at Blaine, so small where he’s wrapped inside his hoodie, and he wonders how he’s meant to hold a conversation with someone so unresponsive. Except it’s more than that, because it’s not Blaine’s quietness that makes Kurt’s stomach squirm. No, it’s the way he won’t look at Kurt unless it’s unavoidable because, in all the time he’s known Blaine, even when they were just friends, Blaine has always looked at Kurt. In fact, sometimes in those first few weeks, it had felt like Blaine was the only one in the world who looked at him, the only one to actually see him. But as Blaine runs a hand distractedly over his forehead, pushing stray hair out of the way, Kurt realises that maybe it’s his turn to do the looking. Perhaps Blaine isn’t after someone to talk to after all; perhaps he just wants someone to see him.