"I let it go. It's like swimming against the current. It exhausts you. After a while, whoever you are, you just have to let go, and the river brings you home." ― Joanne Harris, Five Quarters of the Orange
Kurt made it all the way back to the car. Blaine hadn't followed him. No one had. Kurt had just been allowed to walk away, which, he thought, was a pretty definite signal that Blaine wanted Kurt out of his life. He blinked furiously as he unlocked the car door, silently making excuses for Blaine in his head; namely that his friend had just woken up after trying to kill himself, Blaine would want to be there. However, he could not find it in himself to stop being angry at Blaine because how could he let Kurt just walk away like they had been nothing? They had been best friends, each other's first everything and soul mates, and that meant nothing to him? He could rationalise it out, and argue with himself and other people over it, but the bottom line seemed to be that Blaine didn't care about him anymore.
That had to be what being stabbed felt like.
He slammed his car door shut and turned on the engine, silently questioning the melodramatic and pointless nature of their whole argument. If Blaine would simply be honest with him then none of this would be happening, but – no – Blaine had to keep his secret even when Kurt knew about it, and when he was offering him a chance to fix things. There was no logic to his decision. What Blaine was doing was only going to hurt them both, but he was also completely beyond reason. Kurt could see that Blaine had made up his mind, and – the Gap Attack would attest to this – Blaine did pretty stupid things once he'd made up his mind.
Driving away from the hospital, Kurt decided that this was really going to be the last time that he came back to Lima; or at least for some time and when the purpose of his visit had nothing to do with his dad. He had nothing left back here apart from his dad, who could come up to New York if he really wanted to see Kurt. He was most certainly spending Christmas in New York because New York was his new home; he had moved which meant that his home was no longer here, but in the city that he'd gone to in order to chase his dreams.
He was heading home from a town that had torn him to shreds more than once. Lima was like a barren desert; to find an oasis was pure luck but if you wandered from it was gone – impossible to find again as you became lost in the mirages of misinformation and half-truths. Blaine, and the New Directions he supposed, had been his oasis, but he'd left and now it was gone. There was no point looking round for it again: he ought to press on and find a new source of salvation.
This ordeal had been nothing more than tiring and an utter waste of the time that could have been spent on preparing for his NYADA audition instead of having painful epiphanies thrust on him and being further isolated from his best friend and soul mate… He supposed he ought to stop thinking of Blaine as those things. That was the past; this was the present.
He fiddled with the radio to find something to distract him and, as bad luck would have it, found himself landing on a channel playing Katy Perry. It wasn't even Teenage Dream, but Kurt felt himself being overwhelmed by so many memories – Blaine's smile, the tears in his eyes, holding his hand, "I'm so sorry" – that he ineffectually hit the button to change station. When Wide Awake finally stopped playing, he had tears in his eyes for no other reason than it was Blaine, and he was gone, and Kurt was totally so not okay with that that he just wanted to turn the car around and tell Blaine that he'd do anything to get him back and that it almost didn't matter because Kurt's capacity to love Blaine far outweighed everything else.
But he didn't. He didn't because there was no point in him doing that. Blaine was okay with letting Kurt go, possibly forever, or quite possibly not if Blaine got into NYADA and Kurt did too. Still, their relationship – the entire thing – was over. It had imploded around Kurt and then just self-destructed even more. He had been misdirected and misinformed, and he was so through with that. It would just take some time to get used to it all. A lot of time. Forever…
He closed his eyes and shook his head because thinking like that wasn't going to get him anywhere at all. He was well versed in the ephemeral nature of love and life, and all he could do was press on. Just keep going. One foot in front of the other over and over again. He suddenly felt really tired.
Just yesterday everything had been so much more concrete and optimistic. He'd seen the possibility to turn around and move on, and suddenly that had all vanished. He had his resolution still nestled firmly inside of him, but he genuinely didn't feel like he could. It was like he was stuck where he was. Goddamn, this town and state, Kurt hated it so much. He would always love the New Directions, but they had all wanted to leave Lima, Ohio. That had absolutely been the right thing to do.
"I have bad news for you," Kurt had snuck up on Finn, who was watching TV with a frown on his face, like he was focusing on something that wasn't the sitcom before him. Finn jolted and looked up at Kurt with a frown on his face. Kurt sat down next to him and turned off the TV.
"What…?" asked Finn, hesitantly, like he wasn't sure he could handle any more bad news after everything that had happened. Kurt sighed.
"Blaine's transferring to Dalton Academy." Finn stared at him blankly, like he was expecting Kurt to leap up and say "surprise!" before dropping his head against the back of the couch, emitting a very long groan. Kurt watched him with a mildly sympathetic look, knowing that it wouldn't help to point out that, because they'd lost Sectionals, they didn't technically need Blaine's voice anymore.
"When?" he demanded, after he had run a hand down his face and looked at Kurt with a mildly crushed expression. Kurt shrugged.
"I don't know…Monday, I guess." Finn groaned all over again, rubbing a hand over his eyes.
"Man, I know Blaine always hung out with those guys, and Sam said that he thought Blaine might have been thinking about it, but I didn't believe him…" he trailed off, letting out a giant huff of a sigh. "I mean, it's obvious that he's not happy, but I never thought he'd transfer…Is he doing it because we lost?" Kurt shook his head, after considering it for a moment.
"No," he said, finally. "I think he's doing it because of the boys in the Warblers, but not because he wants to compete with them…" He sighed, sinking into the sofa as his posture crumbled. "He said that he felt that he had to be there for Thad, but…I think he's probably doing it for Sebastian too…" Kurt shook his head, turning to look at Finn. "You should have seen them; Blaine was sleeping against his shoulder. I mean, if it was David or Wes I wouldn't think twice, but it's Sebastian…" he trailed off as Finn nodded because the fact that it was Sebastian explained everything: since when did Sebastian do anything like that?
"I guess…I mean, he transferred for you…" Kurt swallowed at that, looking away at the memory of warm happiness that had filled him up inside, the smile on Blaine's face, the joy and the feeling of being indescribably in love.
…"I came here for me, because I can't stand to be apart from the person I love."…
He shook his head, trying to get rid of the sound of Blaine's voice that was echoing in the happier echelons of his mind where he'd stored all the many good memories that he had of Blaine. He had been studiously keeping his mind away from that area because it tended to leave him with a desire to cry over what he'd lost because he didn't have the chance to make any more of those.
"…so it's really not anything at all about the fact that we lost?" Kurt blinked and looked back at Finn. He turned his words over in his mind before shaking his head at Finn. He rolled his eyes; Finn shouldn't be worried about losing the rest of the New Directions – where would they go?
"No, it's really not on his mind." Finn nodded, rubbing a hand over his face.
"How was his friend?" Kurt sighed, considering the question carefully. He had no idea whether or not Thad was okay because he could still see the fragile looking boy lying in his bed with the marks of his suicide on his body, but then he remembered the way his family had scooped him into their arms and embraced him. He pulled a taut smile onto his face.
"I don't think…" he said. "I don't think he's alright at the moment; he'd cut his wrists and tried to hang himself, Finn. He looked like he was- he really looked bad, but…The Warblers are there for him, and his parents took it as well as anybody can take that kind of thing, but they're not rejecting him for being gay which is the important thing." Finn nodded in understanding and searched for something to say. "I said that you guys would be there for him, by the way." Finn nodded again.
"Okay, that's good…I mean, obviously everything else is crap, but, I mean, the rest is good, right?" Kurt rolled his eyes but nodded.
"Yes, I mean, he wasn't quite with it, but he's awake which I think is the only thing that really matters to any of them." He shook his head. "There was a very weird moment," he said. "when Sebastian lied about reading Thad's suicide note and, apparently, he- it made him cry." Finn stared at him in disbelief.
"Seriously?" Kurt nodded.
"Yeah, David said it, but Sebastian didn't argue about it so I took that to be a yes." Finn shook his head, clearly unable to believe that Sebastian had cried – Kurt was still struggling to process it, and he'd seen Sebastian's scared face…and him holding Thad's hand – and then ruffled up his hair.
"I take it that you're going back to New York today?" Kurt nodded, letting out a long sigh.
"Yes, I have to admit that I'm looking forward to it." The two of them sat side by side in silence for some time as Kurt allowed his mind to stray, unwantedly, onto Blaine once more. He thought of the Blaine that he'd seen in the hospital and knew he was remarkably – painfully – similar to the Blaine that he had fallen in love with; he showed the same care and love for another person. The only difference was that that love wasn't directed onto Kurt anymore. Naturally, and again he could not begrudge him for this, it was far more focused onto Thad. He supposed – if he was being balanced and he thought about it rationally – that that was what Kurt would want from Blaine because who would not want a boyfriend who loved other people and tried their best to look after them?
All this time, though, Kurt had simply been blinded to all Blaine's short comings; his ability to become jealous easily whilst being the one that was more flirtatious. The fact that he gave in easily to temptation and was easily susceptible to feelings that were nothing more than a fleeting attraction, but that he allowed himself to think – believe – that they were real. Blaine had his double standards and a tendency to overreact to small things that were inconsequential. Blaine also had a habit of not considering how Kurt would feel about a situation until after it had happened: Rachel – when Blaine had known how Kurt had felt about him – and the gay bar when he'd gotten drunk, and now, again, with this Eli.
Blaine regretted it, and he was sorry, but that also wasn't the point. The point was that he had gone looking for something; comfort, an attentive ear, love, and had likely not realised until after that he wanted Kurt. Kurt knew how that felt because it was why he had enjoyed the texts from Chandler, but at the same time Kurt had never looked for anything more than a feeling from him. He had only cheated on him in an emotional manner that he hadn't even been doing consciously; it had just been Blaine ignoring him because he was worried about this entire thing happening in – except it was Blaine that had destroyed their relationship.
"How was the kid?" asked Burt, and both Kurt and Finn jumped, breaking from their own brooding silence, and turned around to see Burt walking in to take a seat. Kurt shrugged.
"He's alive," he said, bluntly. "but it sounded like it was a close call…He's woken up too…and his parents are behind him." Burt nodded, crossing his arms and giving Kurt a look that silently asked about Blaine. Kurt stared back at his dad, not wanting to get drawn back into the conversation that they'd had yesterday.
There was an awkward silence as Burt and Kurt stared at each other, neither one prepared to back down over the matter. Finn looked between them in an apprehensive manner, like he was expecting some sort of explosion or for it to descend into fisticuffs, but silence reigned instead, which was, naturally, entirely preferable.
"That's good about his parents and all," said Burt, caving at last, which made Kurt relieved because he just didn't want to get into another conversation about Blaine. "though it makes you wonder whether, had the circumstances been different, they might not have been so good with it." Kurt nodded.
"Wes reckoned that the situation made them prioritise, and they both cried over the whole not-wanting-to speak-to-them-so-choosing-suicide-instead thing…" he trailed off, shrugging. "I mean, it's terrible that it happened, but, in the end, it is the situation – don't think that there's any point speculating over what might have happened." Burt nodded, and Kurt could see that his dad was giving him an appraising look.
"Did you talk to Blaine?" Kurt rolled his eyes and then shrugged once more.
"Not really. He was asleep when I got there, and they only woke him up when Thad started waking. He's moving back to Dalton though…Said that he was doing it for Thad." He knew that, from his tone of voice, his dad could tell that Kurt doubted the honesty of what Blaine had said to him. One look in his eyes said that Kurt had the right to do that.
"What do you think?" Kurt sighed, shrugging for want of anything else to do and because it gave him the chance to delay speaking.
"I don't necessarily think that that's not a reason…I just also think that it probably had a lot to do with Sebastian. He tried to explain but," Kurt shrugged once more. "at the end of the day it doesn't really matter; I'm not even in high school anymore so it doesn't matter where he goes to school. He can do what he wants with his life." He got disbelieving looks from both of the other men in the room. He rolled his eyes. "It's true. Besides, he tried to explain, but when I walked away he didn't follow – doesn't that say everything?"
There was a long silence. Finn looked away, clearly deciding that it was better to not get involved in the conversation, which, Kurt thought, was a smart decision because if someone said that he should have not walked away he would lose his temper. He heard his dad sigh, probably thinking that exact thing, and then get to his feet.
"You need a lift to the airport?" he asked, and Kurt supposed that that was certainly more convenient than taking a taxi. He nodded.
"Yeah, if you're not doing anything, that would be useful." Burt gave him a look that questioned what he could be doing that meant he didn't have time to take his son to the airport.
"Of course, whenever you need to go give me a shout." Kurt examined his watch and, considering that he had to get through check-in and security, that he should probably leave now. He got to his feet and let out a long sigh. Finn pulled himself to his feet, and Kurt looked up at him.
"I hope everything works out for you," he said, and Finn nodded, ruffling up his hair so that it stuck up even more at wilder angles.
"Yeah, you too with NYADA." Kurt nodded and reached up to embrace his step-brother tightly. He stepped back after a little while, and Finn once more ruffled up his hair. Kurt cast him a disapproving look.
"Tame your hair, Finn," he commented. "It looks like an absolute mess." Finn grinned and then ruffled up his hair even more. Kurt frowned at him and pretended to wince and look away in pain. Finn laughed and patted his shoulder.
"I'll see you around; let me know how it all goes." Kurt nodded as he made his way to the door where his dad was standing having retrieved the car keys.
"Yep," he said, nodding as he reached the door and put on a small smile even though he had no intention coming back to Lima any time soon. He had a feeling that Finn knew it, going by the rather sad look in his eyes. He knew that Finn had wanted to leave Lima just as much as he did – he definitely felt like a failure because he'd had to come back and, somehow, managed to lead the glee club to their first loss at Sectionals. Kurt wanted to say something about it all, but he had nothing to say. He couldn't say that it was all going to be okay because there was no way for them to get back in the competition.
"Ready?" Kurt nodded as his dad opened the door, and they made their way outside. Finn was standing on the door step, leaning against the door as he raised his hand in farewell. When he was at the car, he spun around, looking back at Finn.
"Whatever happens, don't let the New Directions end. I know that you guys are alright now, but if they get down, don't let it end; it was the only good thing about high school." Finn nodded.
"I won't." Kurt nodded, giving him one more smile before opening his car door and sliding in. Shutting the door again, he gave Finn one more wave before his dad reversed out of the drive. He folded his hands into his lap, waiting for his dad to say something.
However, there was silence as they made their drive towards the airport. Kurt supposed that his dad didn't want to seem too disapproving about Kurt's choices even though he disagreed with what he was doing. Kurt could understand that because his dad wanted Kurt to be happy, and everyone had seen how happy Blaine had made Kurt. Still, he had the feeling that his dad would understand, eventually, that this was much better for Kurt because it gave him a chance to be happy with other people.
Kurt shifted in his seat and glanced at his dad, who was staring at the road and seemingly completely absorbed with his driving on a very quiet road. He got the impression that his dad was waiting for him to say something, but what more did Kurt have to say? He'd made his points last night and this morning. He really didn't have anything to say. Not really to anyone – he was even thinking the same things about moving on and getting on with his life.
"Dad, you are okay with this, right?" he said, when he couldn't quite take the silence anymore. His dad looked at him and frowned.
"What do you mean?" Kurt sighed, shaking his head.
"Just- you don't seem to…" he trailed off, wondering he should really say what he was thinking. "you don't really seem to support what I'm doing." Burt looked at him with a frown, looking shocked that Kurt would think that. Kurt winced at the hurt look on his face because he felt horrible saying that, especially after what his dad had said to him in the morning, but he somehow felt that his dad had simply said that because that was what Kurt had wanted to hear, not because that was what he actually felt.
"Kurt," he said, seriously. "it's not that, okay." He let out a deep breath, frowning and looking highly serious. "It's just- I really think that you should, you know, not give up. That's all. I thought- I thought that you got that." Kurt sighed, looking out of the window so he didn't have to look into his father's eyes.
"I know, but…I just- I just had this thought that you were saying it just for the sake of it. It's nothing I just-" he broke off, rubbing his hand over his forehead. He shook his head again, retraining his gaze onto the road that was passing by.
"Kurt," pressed his dad, and Kurt sighed, shaking his head once more.
"It's really nothing, dad, I just have…bouts of cynicism, I guess." He snorted to himself. "I think after Blaine it's just a little bit hard to take anyone too seriously. I mean," he turned around so that he was facing full on. "there's something about them telling you something like that…It's not pleasant, I wish he hadn't done it, I lost my trust before I knew he was lying, but… He knew what would happen, most likely, and he wanted to be honest with me. He didn't want to lie to me, or so I thought." He shrugged. "It just changes things, you know?" Burt nodded in understanding.
"Yeah, that makes sense and all, but…" his dad trailed off. "Don't get too bogged down in it all," he advised, suddenly. "At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what he did or what he has or hasn't said; you love him – you know when you really love someone because you'll love 'em no matter what." There was a pause in the car in which Kurt sighed, not bothering to disagree with his dad because he was entitled to his opinion, and Kurt would be lying if he said that he didn't think that about them.
"I suppose…" he muttered, eventually, when it had become clear to him that his dad was only going to continue speaking after Kurt had said something back. His dad nodded in a satisfied manner.
"I think, if you want my opinion, Kurt, and I'm not sure that you do, that you really love that kid, and it is love…It's not something stupid – you throwing out that crap about being a teenager and not knowing is just deflecting, Kurt, 'cause," his dad turned to give him an intent look as they stopped at a set of traffic lights. "you're a smart kid, Kurt, you always have been. People might think that just 'cause you love fashion, Broadway, and you're chasing your dreams that you're head's in the clouds, but it's not. If there's one thing that I'm proud of, Kurt, it's that you have the ability to make real decisions; you chose to come out to me, you chose to face McKinley, you chose to be honest about who you were, Kurt, and you did that because you believed in it – because it felt like the right thing to do – and that's why what you had was never stupid, or throw away; it felt right. You can't argue with that, Kurt."
Kurt let out a long sigh, fixing his gaze onto the road, knowing that this conversation had the ability to just go round and round and round in circles. His dad didn't think that he should give up on Blaine, despite the fact that that's what they both wanted – or that's what Blaine wanted; Kurt was half doing it out of spite because of Blaine and Sebastian, and half doing it because he was too tired to fight it anymore. Blaine was pushing him away; his every choice and action designed to push them further and further apart, and why should Kurt have struggle against the tide one more time? Why couldn't he – just this once – sit back, like everybody else did, and see where it took him?
"Dad," he said, once he'd torn his mind away from the image of aimlessly meandering through life simply because he'd been cheated on and lied to by his high school sweetheart. "I'm not going to fight you over this. You said you would always respect my decisions – this is it, I've made my decision; respect it." He knew that it was an underhanded way to win the argument because his dad couldn't not say that he didn't want to support Kurt's choices because that was what was so special about their relationship; his dad had as much trust and belief in him as Kurt did in his dad. His dad almost saw him as an equal – undoubtedly there would always be the side of him that said that Burt had to protect him, and guide him, because he was his son, Kurt wasn't going to complain about that – and that meant that pressing it too much would look like he was trying to force Kurt into doing what Burt wanted as opposed to what Kurt, himself, wanted to do.
"Alright," grunted Burt, shooting Kurt a small smile that said he knew exactly what he'd done. "I can't fight you there." He chuckled to himself, and Kurt felt his lips turn upwards at the sound, liking the fact that there was something to laugh over. "You've been outsmarting me for years, but that was a smart move, Kurt; alright, I'll drop it." Kurt smirked to himself.
"Thanks dad," he said, looking over at him with a smile. Burt shrugged and shifted in his seat.
"So this NYADA audition of yours, you really got no idea what you're singing?" Kurt sat up a little in his seat, twisting his torso so that it angled towards his dad as he huffed out a sigh.
"No… Well, I have ideas, but nothing that stands out at me as a good idea. It's like every song that I've ever heard pops up in my head, and I vaguely entertain it until the next one barges it's way in…" he sighed. "She was impressed by performance, she said Hugh Jackman would have been impressed…" he shook his head. "What more can she possibly want from me?" Burt shrugged and shook his head, muttering;
"No idea," but Kurt got the impression that he was silently attempting to visualise Wolverine singing and dancing. He snorted to himself and then shook his head; typical. "What?" asked Burt, looking over at him with an expression that said he knew that Kurt was laughing at him. Kurt shook his head again.
"Nothing, just…I know that you're thinking about Wolverine and X-Men." Burt shrugged.
"What? You watch someone run around with metal claws being all aggressive it's a little hard to picture 'em singing and dancing." Kurt simply chuckled some more at his dad's indignant reply.
"Right, sure…" he said, rolling his eyes towards the car roof. His dad glanced over at him, partially amused, partially glad – no doubt because Kurt was smiling again. Kurt found that that made him smile some more.
"Alright?" asked Burt as he pulled the car to the stop outside the airport. Kurt felt a pang of nostalgia for the last time the two of them had been in this position when Kurt had been so full of excitement and hope. He took a deep breath. He had plenty of things to look forward; NYADA, Vogue.com, moving on and meeting new people, and he simply need to remember that. He exhaled heavily. He looked over at his dad with a smile.
"Yeah, I'm fine." He watched his dad cast a critical eye over him before nodding.
"Alright, Kurt, you take good care of yourself." Kurt nodded and reached forward to give his dad a hug. He was wrapped straight into his strong embrace. He held on tightly, trying that hold onto that feeling of being safe and loved.
"I will, dad, I promise." He opened the car door, and his dad put a hand on his shoulder, making him stop. He turned around, frowning at him. "What?" Burt seemed to swallow quiet heavily.
"Look, just…make yourself happy, alright? And call me when you get off the plane." Kurt rolled his eyes skyward but saw that his dad was completely serious about it.
"Alright, I'll call you when I get off the plane, and I've already said that I'll look after myself – that does include making myself happy." Burt rolled his eyes and shook his head.
"Okay then, give me a call if you need anything." Kurt smiled at his dad, rolling his eyes as his obvious, pointless, fretting over Kurt.
"I will," he said, sliding over the car and bending down so that he looked in. "as long as you look after your own health." Burt rolled his eyes and shook his head once more. Kurt glared him down. "I mean it, dad, all of my achievements mean nothing if you're not there to be proud of me and tell me I've done well." There was a silence between them, Kurt feeling a particular sting in his eyes as he looked at his dad. Seeing Thad in that hospital bed had reminded him so vividly of his dad in that hospital bed after his heart attack. It made his chest clench painfully, and he absolutely could not go through that again.
"I'm trying, kid," he said, honestly. "I want to be there when you graduate, and when you go on stage for the first time." Kurt smiled at him, feeling a couple of tears well in his eyes. "But, Kurt," he said, voice becoming even more serious. "I know that what happened to your friend is…" he searched around for a word as Kurt nodded. "…causing old memories to resurface, but I'm not giving up – I have everything; you, to live for." Kurt felt his smile widen at those words.
"Yeah, okay…" he looked around. "I really better go." Burt nodded, reaching across to catch the car door before it slammed shut. He closed it gently, but rolled down the windows. "I love you, dad."
"You too, Kurt," he said, raising a hand to wave goodbye as Kurt moved over to the doors, stopping once more to give his father a final wave. Then he turned around and stared at the inside of the airport, smile spreading across his face as he stepped confidently into the building: he was going home.